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Eton Mess

April 23, 2012

A truly English classic dessert.. who can't help but love fluffy
meringue, silky whipped cream and sweet, sweet strawberries?
... not me!

This dessert is always a crowd pleaser, it's so simple and can be prepared in advance for a special meal then, literally!, thrown together in minutes. You will need to make your meringue the day before you need it as it should be left to dry out in a warm oven over night.

Recipe-

This would easily make 4 nice dinner party portions or 2 very greedy Monday night in portions

For the meringue-

6 egg whites, i used the whites from the eggs used in my Carbonoli recipe, I whipped up the meringue on the day then kept it in an air tight container until I needed it
300g caster sugar

For the mess!-

small tub of double or whipping cream
1 punnet of strawberries
2 tbsp caster sugar
a small handful of mint leaves.

Put the oven onto a very low setting, about 100c.

To make your meringue, which you can do days in advance, you will need a very clean and dry bowl. As I explain in a previous recipe, egg whites need to be whisked in a very clean and grease free bowl or they will not fluff up. Use an electric hand whisk or you will be whisking for ages and end up with a very sore arm, begin to whisk the eggs, when the bubble become smaller about the size of cous cous, pour in about a third of the sugar and continue to whisk. when the sugar has been mixed in add another third and repeat until all the sugar is gone. Continue to whisk the whites until they become a very thick, stiff, glossy foam.

You should be able to turn the bowl upside down without the whites dropping from the bowl, however if you bowl is make from a very smooth shiny material like china or metal they may slide so be careful! To be sure that they are ready pull the hand whisk beaters up out of the foam vertically creating a peak in the whites, the peak should stay standing.

Tip the meringue out on to a tray lined with greaseproof paper and smooth with a spatula. You can make mini individual meringues but for an Eton mess I make a large meringue so that the inside becomes all chewy and soft, then when I crumble it for the mess there is a real mixture of textures.

Pop the meringue into the oven for about three hours, I usually bake the meringue in the evening then when the three hours are finished I turn the oven off but leave the meringue in the oven to continue to dry out as the oven cools.

When your meringue is completely cooled you are ready to make your mess, I cut 2 inch rounds out of the meringue to act as a base for my Eton mess, this is not necessary but helps to keep it a bit neater if that's the look you're going for.

Crumble the rest of the meringue so you have a good range of sized pieces with the largest being no bigger than a 2p coin.

In a pestle and mortar pound the caster sugar and mint leaves until the sugar is a beautiful emerald green colour and the leaves have completely dissolved.

Choose four of the less pretty of your strawberries, chop them roughly then put in small bowl with the minted sugar, stir so that the strawberries are coated then leave to stand whilst you chop up the rest of the strawberries. Return to your sugary strawberries they should have become a bit squashy now and a fork will easily mash them into a coulis.

Whip your cream until it is dollopy and puffed, then fold in your meringue and chopped strawberries, give the mixture a few folds until its muddled but still quite erratically mixed. Pile the mix onto one of the meringue circles cut out earlier or straight into a bowl then drizzle over your coulis so that is streams down through the folds of the cream mess.

Enjoy as a truly indulgent treat on St George's day!




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