Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Blueberry-Lemon Pavlova with a stroll through the Alpine Meadows

My all time FAVORITE dessert has always been Pavlova.  I love how the meringue just melts in your mouth.  I love the real whipped cream (who doesn’t LOVE real whipped cream). I love that it is so versatile.. changing the flavours ever so slightly each time you make it keeps the variations endless as you use whatever fruit is in season.  You can create any flavor combos you’d like, fresh fruit – canned fruit – chocolate –custards-whatever your heart desires, it’s still going to be a phenomenal dessert.  Since it’s Blueberry season (and I still have at least a year’s supply), I thought I’d mix mine up a bit, and instead of using just fresh whole berries/whipped cream, I’d make a super simple berry sauce to drizzle on top.  The results: a perfectly delicate-light-melt in your mouth dessert. Blueberry-Lemon Pavlova.
Pavlova reminds me of growing up, I can remember no matter how full I was (or one time how SICK I was) there was always room for at least a serving-or two.  I can remember my cousin making a huge one, piping delicate crisscrosses and weaves forming a gorgeous meringue shell in the shape of an over-sized birds nest, dolloping whipped cream and then topping off with pounds of fresh fruit, adding candles and serving it as a deluxe birthday cake.  Stunning.  There was another time where I can remember the road trips out to my grandparents for Easter, and with all the family around – that was the show piece worthy dessert.  Time goes by so fast! Those moments seem like ages ago!  It’s funny how certain moments in time just stick with you.
One thing my honey and I tend to do on our little trips around is take detours – mini-road trips.  I love the fact that he knows our beautiful province so well, and what could technically be the same boring drive every weekend, turns into a mini-adventure making another lasting memory.  A few weeks back, on what would typically be just our straight “commuter” drive home from the lake; we took “the long way” home and made a little detour… Creating a memory I’ll never forget.  It was just before sunset as we headed up a dirt road, full of steep, sharp switchbacks.  Winding our way up to “Alpine Meadows” which is located in Manning Park, British Columbia.  All I can say is WOW.  Breathtaking.  The lighting was perfect, the wildflowers in bloom (and mosquito’s were hungry) BUT the sights to see made it all worthwhile!
Pretty sure our GPS was a little confused… as we were  definitely NOT in a grassy green meadow, those were some STEEP cliffs! Duke Dog had a grin on the entire detour… not that he knew what we were doing… but didn’t matter…he was enjoying the ride J It felt like we were driving to the top of the world!
Once we parked up top, there are maps of trails – areas where you could literally get lost backpacking for days on end through the mountain ranges. YUP – add another thing to my bucket-list, hiking the trails up there. Then – there was the wildflowers.  Stunning colours, absolutely amazing how these delicate flowers and plants can grow in such a harsh and extreme climate.  We were probably about a week late for the full bloom, which I can’t even imagine what the alpine meadows would look like then!
The sun was setting which casted a warm glow over everything.  I could have stayed up there for hours playing with my camera, taking in the views.
These plants were kind of cool (I think anyways), looked like a bunch of “Cousin Its” just growing in the alpine.
The Thistle’s purple colour seemed to glow neon in the light, and they were huge, growing right along the rocky cliff side road.
As we left the Alpine Meadows, the sun painted the clouds above in reds, purples, oranges and pinks.  Definitely an evening I will not forget… quite possibly one of my new favorite places to visit now during the summer wild flower bloom.  xorxor honey!!
NOW - back out of dream land, and on to the YUM YUM's.... :)
Blueberry-Lemon Pavlova
·         4 Egg Whites
·         Pinch of salt
·         1 cup Sugar
·         1 tablespoon vinegar
·         Whipping cream (mixed, with addition of sugar to taste)
- Preheat oven to 275F, and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper
- Beat egg whites/salt  using the whisk attachment on your mixer until soft peaks form

- Gradually mix in sugar, beat well after each addition
- Add vinegar, and beat until stiff, glossy peaks form
- Using a spoon or spatula, mound the meringue into a circle on the cookie sheet that is lined with parchment
- Build up the circle forming a shallow birds nest.  Be creative here, to make it “fancy” you can put the meringue in a piping bag and pipe out designs.  BUT, back of a spoon/spatula works just fine here too!
- Bake at 275F for 1 ¼ hours.  Meringue should be creamy coloured (bake 15 more minutes if still sticky)
- Let cool in oven with the door slightly cracked open
Blueberry-Lemon Sauce
·         1 tbsp Cornstarch
·         ½ Cup Sugar
·         2 Cups Blueberries (fresh or frozen)
·         2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
·         Zest of 1 small lemon
·         1 tsp Vanilla Extract
·         Pinch of salt
- Add cornstarch and sugar into a small saucepan, whisk to mix

- Add blueberries, lemon juice, lemon zest, vanilla extract and salt, stir to mix well
- Using a potato masher – mash berries, bring berry mixture to a simmer over medium-high heat , stirring frequently
- Turn heat down, and let simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally
- Remove from Heat and let cool
Putting it all together:
- Carefully removed cooled meringue from cookie sheet and put on plate

- Spoon/pipe whipped cream into center of meringue shell
- Spoon Blueberry-lemon sauce on top of whipped cream, use back of spoon to swirl mixture in a little.
- I also topped with additional fresh blueberries for looks!
-Serve immediately!

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