If you haven’t heard of Eton Mess, you’re in for a real treat! It’s an English dessert, served in the food hall at Eton College, and is a mixture of strawberries, broken meringue and whipped cream. It’s so easy to make and a perfect dish for those novices wanting to try baked meringue…and don’t worry if the meringue collapses or weeps – no one will notice once they take a bite. This dessert is perfect for entertaining as it only needs to be assembled at the last minute. I made the Eton mess on Saturday as we had friends over for a barbecue. Our back deck overlooks a small field that has a dozen or so apple trees. The blossoms inspired me to create a simple, easy-going meal followed by a casual yet simply delicious dessert.
strawberries, hulled and chopped
2 tablespoons sugar
store-bought or homemade meringue (recipe below)
softly whipped cream
Homemade Meringue –
3 large egg whites
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
3/4 cups superfine white sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
In a large bowl beat the egg whites (using a whisk attachment) on medium speed until foamy. Add the cream of tartar and continue to beat the whites until they hold soft peaks. Add sugar, a bit at a time, and continue to beat until thick and glossy. Fold in the vanilla extract. The meringue is done when it holds stiff peaks. Pinch some of the meringue between your thumb and finger and rub it. It should feel silky not gritty. If it feels gritty the sugar has not fully dissolved so keep beating until it feels smooth between your fingers.
Spoon mixture inside the circle drawn on the parchment paper. Working from the center, spread mixture toward the outside edge. Bake for 1 hour. Turn the oven off, open the door ajar, and allow meringue to cool in the oven.
While meringue is in the oven, toss strawberries with sugar and allow to sit at room temperature. You may need to adjust the amount of sugar depending upon how sweet the strawberries are.
To assemble, crumble meringue in a dish followed by whipped cream and strawberries.
The Culinary Chase’s Note: This dish is so light and airy. Its presentation doesn’t need to be fussed with whether you fold in the ingredients or layer it. If you have any leftover meringue, it will keep in an air-tight container for several days. Enjoy!