Whistler's Araxi is famous for its refined use of the local ingredients that B.C. is so well-known for. Now, with chef James Walt's new cookbook, Araxi: Roots to Shoots, you can bring home those flavours with its approachable recipes.
In this dessert recipe, chef James Walt suggests using just a small smount of dried lavender. If you find fresh lavender, you can hang it upside down in a dry place for a few weeks to dry that out.
Set the racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and preheat the oven to 250°F. Line two large baking trays with parchment paper and have ready a stainless steel bowl that fits over a medium saucepan.
Fill the saucepan one quarter full with water and bring to a simmer on medium heat. Crack the egg whites into the metal bowl and set it over the saucepan. Swirl the egg whites in the bowl until barely warm to the touch, about 3 minutes, then pour them into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Add the salt and beat at high speed until the egg whites hold soft peaks, 4 to 5 minutes.
Turn down the speed to low, gradually add one and a half cups of the sugar, then increase the speed to medium-high and beat until the meringue holds stiff, glossy peaks, 4 to 5 minutes.
In a small bowl, stir together the remaining one quarter cup of sugar, the cornstarch and the lavender. With the mixer running at low speed, add this mixture to the meringue and process until well incorporated. Fold in the vinegar.
Spoon 4 mounds of meringue, each about 2 inches high and about one half cup in volume, onto each lined baking tray, leaving about 1 inch around each one.
Place the baking trays in the oven and bake for about 30 minutes. Switch the position of the baking trays (moving the tray on the upper rack to the lower and vice versa) and bake for another 30 to 45 minutes, until the meringues are crisp but still soft inside. If the meringues are still not crisp after 1 hour and 15 minutes, turn off the oven and allow them to cool inside for 30 minutes.
Once the meringues are cool enough to touch, transfer them from the parchment paper to wire racks to cool. (They may stick if cooled completely on the parchment paper.)
Combine all of the ingredients, except garnishes, in a small saucepan and bring to a boil on medium-high heat. Stir constantly to ensure the berries do not burn. Turn down the heat to a simmer and cook for about 5 minutes, until the blueberries just start to break down. Remove from the heat, transfer to a bowl and refrigerate immediately until cool. Remove and discard the vanilla bean pod.
To serve, arrange the meringues on individual plates or on a large serving platter. Spoon a generous amount of berry compote into the centre of each one and then top with a spoonful of whipped cream.
Garnish with fresh blueberries on and around the meringues and top with a mint leaf (or two).