It was time to return to France. Too much fun visiting family in Scotland had to come to an end – although I thought it had, after being hanged at the Edinburgh Dungeons! It could have been messy after these extra couple of kilos of Lucas’ ice cream, Tunnocks Teacakes, baked potatoes, cheese scones and Stornoway black pudding.
As Spring has sprung later this year, we luckily hadn’t missed our traditional French muguet, or Lily-of-the-valley, which is traditionally given to family and friends as a good luck symbol. It was a week late in our garden. Brilliant!
Not so brilliant was that I (known in the family as ‘the French Police’) had returned to the kitchen. I’d forgotten that it wasn’t just a public holiday on our arrival on Wednesday, but also yesterday too. Shops? Fermé. Shut. But do you know what? I somehow get a kick out of using up leftovers in the fridge. Antoine (French hubby person) had kindly left us the fruit he was supposed to eat while we were away. To my surprise, they were still ok but not exactly bursting with flavour.
There were 3 lemons, 5 strawberries, 2 kiwis and a tired pineapple just looking for a tasty makeover. Without thinking on my arrival, I’d taken out a jam jar of egg whites to defrost from the freezer. Don’t ask me why. That’s what mad macaron people do, ok? So I thought up this dessert while zesting the lemons for a lemon cream. Why not make up some meringue nests, fill them with a zingy lemon cream and top with the fruits? The strawberries were simply resurrected by tossing them in some strawberry syrup. Et voilà!
Lemon Pavlova (Gluten Free) Recipe
Preparation Time: 20 minutes
Cooking Time: 1 hour + 15 minutes
Chilling Time: 1 hour
2 egg whites (about 75g)
few drops vanilla essence
1. Whisk the egg whites at high speed using a hand or stand mixer. Gradually rain in the sugar while continuing to whisk, adding the essence last, until the mixture is firm and glossy. It should form a peak (or bird’s beak, bec de l’oiseau) on the whisk.
2. Spoon out 4 large heaps of the meringue on to a baking sheet lined with baking paper. Press them down and scoop out a cavity that you can fill later.
3. Bake for 1 hour at 110°C. Meanwhile, make the lemon cream.
Crème au citron (Lemon Cream)
3 egg yolks
3 lemons (untreated)
knob of butter (unsalted)
4. Whisk together the yolks and sugar in a saucepan. Add the cornflour, zest and lemon juice then the water. Mix together well.
5. Over a medium heat, whisk until the cream thickens then take off the heat and mix in the butter. Set aside to cool.
6. When the meringues are ready, leave to cool then spoon in the lemon cream into each meringue nest and chill in the fridge for an hour.
Just before serving, top with a mixture of fruits. Just look what my daughters put together for the decoration. Lucie loves pineapple – you can tell by this double decker! I love leftovers. Now, I best get to the shops before mint meringues pops on the menu for our main course!
At least this means I’ve got more egg whites on the go for making macarons soon.
Happy sunny May time!
P.S. As with all my recipes, I use grams. Please don’t be mad, ounces lovers. However, if you’re mad about macarons, you’ll need digital kitchen scales – much more reliable to bake in weight rather than volume. Most digital scales have the option of switching from ounces to grams so this will make your life much easier.