Because we were so close, we thought it would be silly not to make our way over the mountains to Costa del Sol where it was a sunny seventy degrees and then over to Gibraltar. Leaving the warm sunny weather on the Spanish side of the border for the cold, cloudy and blustery chill on the British side gave us a giggle – Gibraltar was literally sitting under a cloud.
We took the six-minute cable car ride up to the top of the Rock of Gibraltar.
For me, it was all about those wild monkeys who live on the Rock.
The older ones with serious and wise faces and then the little young ones who behaved like mischievous children and seemed to be in nonstop play mode, only running to their parents for a quick hug on occasion.
And if you weren’t careful, this could happen…
…what a cheeky monkey he was!
After our fun excursion to Gibraltar, we began our trek back to the States via Seville, Barcelona, London…
…over Greenland to Denver.
Needless to say, we had the most fabulous time on our trip but it always feels so good to crawl into our bed after a long time away. Waking up to the cool mountain air, one of Ric’s steaming hot lattes with our dog and cat at the foot of the bed is pretty hard to beat.
A few days after we arrived home this happened…
…a foot of heavy snow fell. As Ric and I joked, in December, it was beautiful, at the end of April, we were so over it.
This lovely dessert is my final ode to our trip and England. Not that it is really considered an English dish, I believe the Russians and Aussies are still arguing over who invented it, but the Pavlova is a sweet that is served up a lot in England and it was the dessert I had most often while I was living there.
The combination of the crunchy outside of the meringue, soft light-as-air marshmallow like inside, whipped cream topping and fresh berries makes the Pavlova a little slice of heaven.
I use less sugar in my version of this recipe and I don’t mess with the fruit too much as I think it is the contrast of the slightly tart but sweet berries that gives balance to this dessert, however, I always use organic berries, my favorite being Driscoll’s organic berries.
- 4 extra-large egg whites, at room temperature
- Pinch of salt
- ¾ cup sugar for the meringue
- 3 teaspoons cornstarch
- 1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 cup cold heavy cream
- 2 teaspoons sugar for the whipped cream
- 1 teaspoon pure almond extract
- 1 ½ pints of assorted berries (I used Driscoll's organic strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries)
- 1-2 teaspoons sugar for the fruit (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 200 degrees F.
- Place a sheet of parchment paper on a sheet pan. Draw a 9-inch circle on the paper, using a 9-inch plate as a guide, then turn the paper over so the circle is on the reverse side.
- Place the egg whites and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment or use a handheld electric mixer.
- Beat the egg whites on high speed for 1-2 minutes until firm. Slowly add in the sugar while continuing to whip until the mixture is firm with shiny peaks, about 2 minutes.
- Sift the cornstarch onto the beaten egg whites, add the vinegar and vanilla, and fold in lightly with a spoon or spatula.
- Pile the meringue into the middle of the circle on the parchment paper and smooth it within the circle, making a rough disk. Bake for 1 hour and 45 minutes. Turn off the oven, keep the door closed, and allow the meringue to cool completely in the oven, about 1 hour. It will be crisp on the outside and soft on the inside.
- While the meringue is cooling, prepare the whipped cream by placing the cold cream in a bowl and whipping it with an electric mixer until it is thickened. Add the sugar and almond extract and continue to whip just until it holds peaks but don’t over-whip or it will curdle.
- Carefully remove the meringue from the parchment and place on a serving plate.
- Just before serving, very gently spread the whipped cream on the top of the meringue.
- Combine the strawberries, blueberries and raspberries in a bowl and toss with a little sugar if desired and then pile the fruit on top of the whipped cream. Serve immediately.