It’s finally warm enough to sleep with the windows open and let the scent of lilacs drift in on the breeze.
That inspired me to try something that swept through social media last year: lilac sugar.
Lilacs are edible and taste like they smell: They have a floral, almost bitter citrus flavor. But the real reason to use them is their aromatic and aesthetic properties.
The sugar is easy. There are two ways to infuse lilac into the sugar. You can layer sugar and lilac flowers (stems removed) into a clean jar with a tight lid. Let the jar sit for a day, shaking every once in awhile. Or blend the flowers into the sugar. Put equal parts flowers and sugar (by volume) together in a food processor. Pulse until flowers are broken down. Let the sugar dry. Add a few fresh flowers for style points.
I prefer blending the flowers into the sugar, so the sugar takes on a purple tint. The sugar smells amazing, and tastes like you’d expect, but with a slight flowery, plant flavor.
Use the sugar within a few days. The longer it sets, the less it smells like lilacs and the more bitter flavors come through.
I decided to make pavlovas to make use of the sugar. A pavlova is a meringue dessert with whipped cream and fruit on top. The crunchy sweet meringue is balanced by smooth cream and tart berries. I loosely followed a British recipe I found online, then topped them with blackberries and fresh lilac flowers.
The lilac flavor only came through as an aftertaste in the back of throat, bitter and floral.
But they turned out beautifully. An Instagrammable outcome, perfect for sundresses and garden teas.
1 cup sugar
1 cup lilac flowers, stems removed from stems
Put equal parts flowers and sugar (by volume) together in a food processor. Pulse until flowers are broken down. Let the sugar dry, stirring occasionally to prevent clumping. Store in an airtight jar and use within a few days.
Lilac Blackberry Pavlova
3 egg whites
2/3 cup lilac sugar
1 pint whipping cream
2 tablespoons lilac sugar for garnish (optional)
fresh lilac flowers
Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a bowl, whip egg whites until stiff peaks form. Slowly add in lilac sugar one tablespoon at a time. Dollop egg and sugar mixture onto baking sheet, using a spoon to shape into little bowls. Bake for one hour. The meringues will start to brown and easily lift from the sheet. Let cool. Whip cream and add sugar if desired. Top meringues with whipped cream, then the blackberries and lilac flowers.