Valentine Warner’s Lavender Meringues

Like the yummy Valentine Warner himself, these are classic but still slightly unusual. Don’t be put off by the idea of lavender – it actually comes out as a really subtle flavour, a bit sugary, a bit fragrant. Valentine actually sandwiches these together with cream, but as I was using them as part of afternoon tea, along with two other confections, I decided to keep them pure and simple, just like Valentine…

3-4 fresh unsprayed lavender stems, flowers only
2 large egg whites
3 1/2 oz caster sugar
Purple food colouring (optional)
5 fl oz double cream (optional filling)
1/2 tbsp icing sugar (optional filling)
1. Preheat the oven to 130C and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. Grind the lavender with a pestle and mortar for between 1 and 2 minutes, or until it becomes fragrant.
3. In a large bowl, whisk the egg whites into stiff peaks. If you’re an ultra domestic goddess like me, you’ll save the egg yolks to use for a nice lemon or passionfruit curd…
4. Gradually whisk in the caster sugar, a tablespoonful at a time, until all the sugar’s in and the mixture looks thick and glossy.
5. Sprinkle a tablespoonful of the lavender into the mixture and whisk until combined, then add your food colouring, if you so choose.
6. Alrighty then – you all know the saga of my poor, broken piping bag, so please excuse the following sorry excuses for what should be beautifully piped meringues. But you should manage better, just pipe away.
7. Look at them. Faces only a mother could love.
7. Pop them in the oven and reduce the temperature down to 100C, and bake your meringues for two hours, until they’re crisp but not coloured. Turn your oven off and leave your little beasts in there until it’s cooled. Then pop them in an airtight container and don’t give them another moment’s thought.
8. If they’re just not decadent enough, then whip the cream and sift in your icing sugar, then sandwich the meringue halves togther. Hey presto!

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