Eton Mess is a traditional old English dessert combining strawberries, meringue and cream. Its name, which first appeared in the 19th century, refers to the famous school – Eton College – where it was served at the school’s annual cricket game. Apparently, it started out as plain old strawberries (or bananas) and cream; the meringue component being added in much later. Whatever the history, this luscious, quintessentially summer dessert has long been a family favourite and, as simple as it is, never fails to delight.
This particular recipe comes from New Zealand’s Taste magazine (March 2014, Issue 99). What I like about it is the addition of a strawberry coulis along with the fruit, ensuring a more intense fruit flavour. In this recipe the coulis is drizzled over top of the dessert, though you can of course swirl it through the mixture, creating a pretty marbled effect.
You’ll find that yoghurt is combined with the cream in this recipe – an increasingly common trend, especially when paired with something as sweet as meringue. To be honest though, I’m not sure I’m a fan – it makes the cream a little too tart for my liking, and it seems to me that the strawberries already provide natural tartness. I guess I’m just an old-fashioned girl when it comes to strawberries and cream – if it ain’t broke, don’t go fixing it. Having said that, I’ve left the recipe as is so you can decide for yourself.
By the way, I heartily recommend you make your own meringues rather than buying store-bought ones. They really are more delicious than those chalky commercial brands and, what’s more, these meringues have chewy marshmallow centres – need I say more?
- 1 Blender
- 3 egg whites
- 6.2 oz caster sugar (superfine)
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 2 tsp white wine vinegar
- 1 Tbsp cornflour (corn starch)
For the topping:
- about 2 cups strawberries, fresh or frozen (or use a mixture of different berries)
- 2 Tbsp icing sugar (confectioner’s sugar)
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 1 cup thick Greek style yoghurt
- Preheat oven to 150°F (300°F). Line a baking tray with non-stick paper.
- Beat egg whites in a clean bowl until they form soft peaks. Add the sugar a spoonful at a time, beating between each addition. Once all the sugar is mixed in (test by rubbing some mixture between your fingers – you shouldn’t feel any grains) fold in vanilla, vinegar and sifted cornflour.
- Take a dessertspoon full of mixture and place it on the baking paper in a small mound, leaving a bit of room between each. Repeat with remaining mixture and place tray in the oven. Turn down heat to 120°C (250°F) and cook for 1 hour. Turn off oven and leave the meringues in the oven overnight or until completely cool.
- To make berry coulis, mix half the berries with the icing sugar in a saucepan. Cook on medium heat until soft. Whizz in blender and leave to cool.
- To assemble dessert, chop the remaining berries into halves or quarters, depending on their size. Whisk cream until it forms soft peaks (it’s important not to over-whisk as the cream needs to be soft and gloopy). Fold together cream, yoghurt and berries and break meringues into mouthful-sized pieces and mix in gently.
- Serve in bowls or glasses and drizzle with coulis (I dolloped one big spoonful of mixture into each dish, then drizzled over some coulis, followed by a second dollop and more coulis over top, in effect creating a more layered parfait).
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