Kiwi Lime Pie Popsicles

Welcome to #Popsicleweek!!  Creamy, non-dairy kiwi lime popsicles with a graham "crust" and torched meringue topping.

Kiwi Lime Pie Popsicles with torched meringue.  Non-dairy

You know you are an adult/mom when you go out and buy yourself a blender for Mother's Day.  It's not because Brett forgot to get me a gift nor am I complaining for the seemingly" unromantic" gift, it was something I requested months in advance.  My very first Vitamix!!  You guys, I am so in love.  Now I get it.  It's magical.  I was never really living before now.

It's easier to "justify" the hefty price tag on kitchen appliances when you work with food for a living.  But dang those blenders are pretty expensive.  Sure I use my Kitchen Aid mixer(s) daily (the two I have are still going strong after surviving my bakery days), but a blender?  I wasn't sure...

What I do know is how much this toddler of mine loves smoothies and how it's nearly impossible to get any type of vegetable into his growing body unless in liquid form.  So the questions was, how many green smoothies do we need to make with the new blender to cancel out all the $8 Caribbean Dreams from Whole Foods he pounds?  I didn't actually do the math, but I felt pretty good throwing the new "smoothie maker" (because that's really what it's for, right?) into the Costco cart.

Kiwi Lime Pie Popsicles with torched meringue.  Non-dairy

Okay, obviously a high-powered blender is much more than just a smoothie maker.  It makes popsicles too!  Especially these Kiwi Lime Pie Popsicles that I made with soaked cashews.  Soooo good, guys!

The inspiration behind these popsicles comes from an old Friends episode – the one where Ross mistakes Monica's Kiwi Lime Pie for regular Key Lime Pie and ends up in the hospital with an allergic reaction.  He's afraid of needles and asks the doc if they could use the needle like a squirt gun to administer the meds.  Does anyone else remember this?  Are Brett and I the only couple that watches Friends on Netflix on a loop?  Like, when the last episode finishes, we just start over again?  Admittedly, we might have a problem.... even Everett knows when to clap during the intro...

Anyways, Kiwi Lime Pie Pops!!  The problem I always have when making homemade popsicles, as well as muffins, is that I always try to make them too healthy.  As a result, my pops are usually icy from not using enough sugar and my muffins are always dry and bland.  But not this time, folks!  I decided to blend soaked cashews with coconut milk to make the pops extra creamy.  Can you believe my non-dairy pops turned out creamier than any other milk or yogurt-based popsicles I've made in the past?  I was afraid the coconut flavor would overpower nearly any other ingredient, so I decided to add sweet yet tart kiwis and loads of fresh lime juice.  After pouring the blend into the molds and chilling for a couple hours, I simply crushed up some cinnamon graham crackers and sprinkled them into the bottom of the pops as the "crust."

Kiwi Lime Pie Popsicles with torched meringue.  Non-dairy
Kiwi Lime Pie Popsicles with torched meringue.  Non-dairy

I think I first saw torched meringue on a fudgesicle to make the ultimate s'more pop done by Donna Hay last year.  I chickened out on making my own then, but have since seen tons of different variations around the web.  This year, I wanted to give it a try.  Even though the idea is not totally new, I can't ever seem to pass up using my culinary torch.  The meringue is actually super easy to add onto the frozen pops and stays soft and chewy in the freezer.  Just torch and place them back on a sheet pan in the freezer and cover until ready to eat.

Be sure to head on over to Wit and Vinegar for the official POPSICLE WEEk round-up!  There should be like 120 participants this year.  So as Everett would say (we just taught him this), "Stay cool, my baby!"

Kiwi Lime Pie Popsicles
adapted from Minimalist Baker
makes about 10 popsicles

1 cup raw cashews, soaked 4 to 6 hours
1 cup full-fat coconut milk
juice from 3 large limes (about 1/3 cup)
3 ripe golden kiwis, skin removed or 4 regular kiwis
1/2 cup honey or agave nectar, or to taste

1 cup crushed graham crackers

2 large egg whites
2/3 cup sugar

Place the soaked cashews, coconut milk, lime juice, kiwis, and honey in a high-powered blender.    Blend on high until creamy and smooth**

Distribute evenly in the popsicle molds and freeze for about 1-2 hours,  Sprinkle in the graham cracker crumbs and press them gently into the "batter."  Insert the sticks and freeze until solid.

When ready (once the pops are frozen), place the egg whites and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer.  Fill a saucepan with a few inches on water and bring to a simmer.  Lower the heat and place the mixer bowl on top to create a double-boiler.  Whisking intermittently, heat the egg white mixture until 160 degrees on a candy thermometer.

Carefully remove the mixer bowl and place it on a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment.  Whisk on high util stiff peaks and the mixture has returned to room temperature (about 8 minutes).  

Dip, dollop, and swirl the meringue on the frozen popsicles.  Place on a sheet pan and refreeze for 20 to 30 minutes.  Remove from the freezer and toast the meringue with a culinary torch!  Enjoy immediately, or place back on a sheet pan, cover and freeze.

 

**the seeds from the kiwis may make the mixture seem slightly grainy.  I ended up blending just a bit longer than normal to compensate.  You can try straining them out, but it wasn't worth the trouble for me.  Once frozen, you can hardly notice.

 

Chocolate Cherry Pavlova

Baked meringue provides a light and crispy bed for pillowy, almond-scented whipped cream, fresh cherries, and a shower of chocolate shavings.  A heavenly treat for summer!

Pavlova with almond cream, fresh cherries, and chocolate shavings.

That 16-hour plane ride to Sydney surely gives you a lot of time to build up expectations.  Thankfully, the trip did not disappoint – even in July (their winter). 

After I graduated from university, my family and I went way down under.  A trip to Australia!  How freakin' amazing is that?!?!?  I honestly didn’t know what to really except.  Would it be like cities in America or parts of Great Brittan but with a different accent?  Is it more tropical island-like with its many beaches and abundant wild life?  And why did we come during our summer – would it rain the entire time?  The trip was a decade ago this summer, so please forgive any lapses in my memory or ignorant generalisations. 

The best way I can describe the experience was that is was similar to going to a clean, modern, English-speaking country in Europe, where everything feels almost the same as home but then you turn the corner and see a peculiar food item or hear an unfamiliar phrase in an accent that is not your own.  Kind of like living in Vancouver and it feeling almost like any other major city in the US, until you spot the colourful Monopoly money or a bag of ketchup chips while hearing someone say "decal" instead of sticker, but pronouncing it de-kel instead of di-kal.  In fact, Vancouver reminds me of a mixture of Melbourne’s cosmopolitan city life and the scenic, waterfront of Sydney.  Both have similar climates, modern glass high-rises, and friendly locals, too!

Pavlova with almond cream, fresh cherries, and chocolate shavings.
Pavlova with almond cream, fresh cherries, and chocolate shavings.
Pavlova with almond cream, fresh cherries, and chocolate shavings.

I wish I could say that I saw a koala bear or a kangaroo in the wild, but most of our time was spent in the cites of Sydney and Melbourne.  Some of the highlights include: climbing the Sydney Harbour Bridge, taking a harbour boat tour, standing in awe in front of the opera house, attending a rugby match then running for the train after (as we learned that when the first train fills up, it may take forever until another arrives), hitting up the Lindt Chocolate Café, Bondi Beach (I snapped an awesome pic that was the desktop photo on my old computer for years!), the river walk in Melbourne, and more.  I know I didn’t even scratch the surface and mostly indulged in touristy things, but it was truly an amazing trip in a gorgeous country.  I’d go back any day – despite the longest plane ride ever (although I have to say that those Melona popsicle Kiwanis gives out mid-flight is a nice touch).

Food wise, I remember eating passion fruit EVERYTHING with reckless abandon.  Judging from this cake and these popsicles, you can probably tell that I have a thing for tangy passion fruit.  I recall going to a market for breakfast that was kind of like a fancy food court and ordering yogurt covered in fresh passion fruit pulp and my first ever flat whites daily.  

Pavlova with almond cream, fresh cherries, and chocolate shavings.

One of my favorite Aussie foods that I still enjoy baking today is the pavlova.  Some say it originated in New Zealand while other claim Australia.  All I know is that it is down right delicious.  The light and crisp meringue shell, sweetened whipped cream, and fresh, seasonal fruit – what is there not to love? When the cooler months have us craving more comforting treats laden with caramel sauce or decadent ganache, summer calls for something on the lighter side.  This recipe in particular calls for flecks of real vanilla bean, almond cream, fresh cherries, and a shower of chocolate shavings, but feel free to change up the flavor of the cream and use your favorite fruit.  There really is no reason why we shouldn’t be making these pillows of glory goodness all summer long!  Head on over to the West Elm Blog for the recipe.

Surely I am not giving Australian or its cuisine much justice.  How much can you really learn and appreciate about a culture in such a short amount of time?  Two of my favorite dessert bloggers just happen to hail from Australia.  I strongly urge you all to go check out Sarah’s The Sugar Hit blog and Thalia’s Butter and Brioche blog. And please forgive me ladies for not doing anything remotely “cool” while I was there.  Next time, will you please show me around? 

 

Pavlova with almond cream, fresh cherries, and chocolate shavings.

Eton Mess Cake

Layers of light, fluffy sponge cake, sweetened whipped cream, crispy meringues, and fresh raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, and strawberries – this is a take on the classic British Eton Mess and Victoria Sponge Cake turned into one delightful treat.

Eton Mess Cake with layers of sponge cake, sweetened whipped cream, crispy meringues, and fresh berries.

One of my favorite pastimes is to read and collect cookbooks.  Even though I spend a majority of my time doing something food-related, I can’t help but scour over the delicious recipes, witty headnotes, and swoon-worthy images that make up the collection of cookbooks that line my shelves, are stacked on my bedside table, and fill any available storage space our little apartment can spare. 

I’d love to find more inspiration for my own recipes out in the real world, and I dread not having traveled more often when I had the freedom to do so.  Fortunately, I live in a blossoming international city that is overflowing with different cultures and fabulous food.  But for those times that I can’t get out to a restaurant of even a corner café for weeks, at least there are the dog-eared and bookmarked pages of my cookbooks for me to get lost in and inspired from. 

Eton Mess Cake with layers of sponge cake, sweetened whipped cream, crispy meringues, and fresh berries.

I have this huge thing for meringues.  Petite, piped stars and kisses in an array of colors to giant, cloud-like puffs nearly the size of my head – I love them all.  Sinking my teeth into the crispy exterior and letting the chewy middles melt in my mouth is almost as gratifying as that initial “crunch” when digging into crème bruleé.   Two of the most satisfying food pleasures, if you ask me.

Meringues are great on their own, but I love incorporating them into other desserts.  But beyond pavlova, I get a little stumped.  Thankfully the Meringue Girls wrote a whole book on desserts all involving meringue in some way, shape, or another.  Baked or used as a topping, these gals have come with more ways to enjoy meringue throughout the seasons than I ever dreamed possible.  Alex and Stacey have quite literally transformed a classic into dozens of new confections.  Based out of London, I love reading about their Willy Wonka desserts with a British influence and reminiscing about the my travels “across the pond.”  That being said, I especially love their twist on a British favorite: Eton Mess. 

A combination of crisp meringues, sweetened cream, and fresh berries, Eton Mess is a perfect balance of flavors and textures.  It was created with simplicity, versatility, and ease in mind – assuming you keep meringue cookies on hand (do Brits do that?).  Simply whip up some cream, throw in some seasonal fruit, crush up your baked meringue and VIOLA! 

Now of course, this doesn’t look like a traditional Eton Mess that is usually served in a dish, not slice-form.  In fact, it’s pretty far from traditional...  Going along with the British theme, I’ve been enamored with the simplicity of a Victoria Sponge Cake for some time.  Classic sponge, sweetened cream, and fruit jam – it was named after Queen Victoria who enjoyed a slice with her afternoon tea.  Now who wouldn’t want to adapt that tradition into their day to day?  Coincidently (or perhaps not a coincidence at all), Lily Vanilli’s Sweet Tooth and April Carter’s Decorated have some of the finest examples of Victoria Sponge Cakes in their books (both London-based authors/bakers) that I swoon over on a regular basis. 

Eton Mess Cake with layers of sponge cake, sweetened whipped cream, crispy meringue, and fresh berries.
Eton Mess Cake with layers of sponge cake, sweetened whipped cream, crispy meringues, and fresh berries.
Eton Mess Cake with layers of sponge cake, sweetened whipped cream, crispy meringues, and fresh berries.
Eton Mess Cake with layers of sponge cake, sweetened whipped cream, crispy meringues, and fresh berries.
Eton Mess Cake with layers of sponge cake, sweetened whipped cream, crispy meringues, and fresh berries.

For this cake, I took both the Eton Mess and the Victoria Sponge Cake and smushed them together!  I swapped the fruit jam for fresh berries and stuffed the crispy, baked meringue bits between the layers of sponge and cream.  Once assembled all together, the crispy meringue bits nearly melt into the cream - each bite a perfect harmony of texture and sweetness. 

Eton Mess Cake with layers of sponge cake, sweetened whipped cream, crispy meringues, and fresh berries.

For the full recipe, head over to The Cake Blog!