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Lavender delights

My weekend treat is to wake up earlyish on Saturday morning, and watch cookery shows on BBC 1. This usually results in me making said cookery items, since I tend to watch these shows on an empty stomach. Without fail, each week I'm in the kitchen trying the latest recipes. Scrumptious fish pie by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, Jamie Olivers homemade pasta, onion rings by Rick Stein, and this week, lavender cream meringues by Valentine Warner.

If you could eat heaven, these little delights would be a close second. If you don't have an electric whisk {like myself}, it will take about 3 times longer to make the meringue. But the end result it well worth it.

I will make a note to follow Valentine's advise closely when he states the amount of lavender stems to use. I thought to myself the quoted amount of lavender couldn't possibly be enough, so I added a touch more. Mine turned out a bit stronger than they should have, but no complaints were made {to my face}.

In stead of serving mine like in the image on the right, I used the whipped cream as a dip, and dunked the little suckers right in. More lazy way / less preparation.

Meringue image credit: BBC website. The lavender image is all mine, care of the plentiful lavender bushes in our communal garden which I raid on a weekly basis when in season.

Should you like to try this recipe, I've included it below ...

Ingredients
3-4 fresh lavender stems, flowers only
2 egg whites
100g/3½oz caster sugar
1-2 drops of red food colouring, mixed with 1-2 drops of blue food colouring {optional - to make purple}
150ml/5fl oz double cream
½ tbsp icing sugar

Method
Preheat the oven to 130C. Line a large baking tray with baking paper. Grind the lavender flowers in a mortar and pestle until fragrant. In a large bowl, whisk the egg whites until stiff peaks form when the whisk is removed. Gradually whisk in the caster sugar, a tablespoonful at a time, until all of the caster sugar has been added. Sprinkle one tablespoonful of the ground lavender flowers into the egg white mixture.

Dip a cocktail stick into the food colouring mixture and shake off a drop into the egg mixture. Mix well, adding more food coloring until you get the color you want. NOTE: You may not need all of the food coloring. Spoon the meringue mixture into a piping bag {OR a zip-lock bag, and cut off one corner as I did}. Pipe small swirls of the meringue mixture onto the prepared baking tray.

Transfer meringues into the oven and immediately reduce the temperature to 100C. Bake the meringues for two hours, or until crisp but not coloured. Turn off the oven and leave meringues inside until the oven is cool. When the meringues have cooled, store them in an airtight container until needed.

No more than 30 minutes before serving, pour the cream into a mixing bowl and sift over the icing sugar. Whip until soft peaks form. Place a teaspoonful of the cream mixture onto the base of one of the lavender meringues, then sandwich the cream between a second meringue. Place onto a large serving plate. Repeat the process with the remaining meringues, then serve immediately.

Click here for a handy cooking calculator, should you prefer to measure in cups, mls, oz etc.

Valentine Warner's recipe can be seen in full here on his website. Bookmark it if you're hungry. Do it now.

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