A traditional British dessert that is as easy to make as it is impressive.
What Is Eton Mess?
Eton Mess is the cool, laid-back friend type of dessert, this recipe for Eton Mess uses homemade meringues. Feel free to use store-bought meringues, which makes it one of the easiest summer desserts out there. But no one has to know.
This British pudding brings an alluring combination of flavor that’s sure to impress. There are some things that evoke a perfect summer’s day, and whipped cream, crunchy meringue and sweet berries are one of them. The meringues will soften as they sit, giving just the right amount of texture.
Where Does Eton Mess Come From?
Ahh. The Eton Mess History. Well,
The generally-accepted story is that the strawberry, meringue, and cream pudding was dropped at an Eton vs Harrow cricket match in the late 19th century. However, there is an alternate version, involving a labrador and a picnic in the 1930s. Whatever the history, this Eton Mess strawberry recipe is public property now.
A dessert that is quick and easy to make and makes great use of ripe strawberries at the height of summer. I recommend not using frozen or tinned strawberries as these simply do not work. It is the freshness and summer ripened fruits that make this dessert so special.
Ingredients In Eton Mess
Why is this three-ingredient recipe worth so much devotion? Because it stands for everything I want in a dessert: preparation in less than 30 minutes, a range in textures, and being able to sincerely say, “Oh this? It was no big deal. Really, it was nothing. No, really. Have another one!”
Let’s break it down:
- Strawberries. The sweetness.
- Meringue. The crunch.
- Whipped Cream. It’s beautiful. Moving on
Serve immediately. Preferably without dropping, and away from excitable labradors.
Meringue To Stiff Peak Stage
For the meringues (or 6 shop-bought meringue nests)
- 3 Egg whites At room temperature
- 1/2 tsp Lemon juice
- 1 Pinch of salt
- 150 g Caster sugar
- 1/2 tsp Vanilla extract
For the cream
- 200 ml Double cream
- 1 Tbsp Icing sugar
For the strawberry coulis
- 500 g Ripe strawberries
- 1-2 Tbsp Icing sugar
- 50 ml Water
- 250 g strawberries, cut into quarters
- Start with the meringues, if you’re making them. Preheat oven to 100°C (215°F).Place the egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Add the lemon juice and start whisking on medium speed until you see soft peaks. Slowly start to add the caster sugar a tbsp at a time, incorporating completely before adding the next. Whisk until all the sugar has been added and the whites are glossy, then, increase the mixer to high speed. Add in the vanilla and salt.
- What you're looking for is the "stiff peak" stage. What I mean by that is, the peaks should stand up nice and straight when holding the whisk upright. The whites will be glossy and smooth. If you rub the mixture between your fingertips, it should feel silky smooth (meaning the sugar has completely dissolved.)
- Line a baking sheet with baking paper (use a small blop of meringue in each corner of the baking sheet to 'glue' your baking paper). Use 2 spoons to scoop large, rustic meringues.
- Bake for 60 to 90 minutes or until the outside is crisp and the inside is dry yet chewy. Meringues might puff up a little bit and color ever so slightly golden.They should feel light and hollow. You can tell when they're ready when they come away without anything sticking to the bottom of baking paper. Turn the oven off, crack the door open, and let the meringues cool completely in the oven.
- Firstly, cut 250g strawberries into quarters and place them into the pan on medium heat. (We use the leftover 250g to assemble).Add the icing sugar and water. Cook for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally to avoid the mixture sticking. It should be lovely and shiny with a syrup-y consistency. Place your strawberries into the blender and blitz. Remove the seeds with a sieve.
- Place the cream and sugar into a bowl and whisk until you have soft peaks. Chill before assembling.
- Break the meringue into a large mixing bowl. Try to keep the pieces quite large as they will break down further when mixing.Mix the cream into the meringue. Be gentle.Split into 6 glasses/bowls, followed by the strawberries cut into quarters and the strawberry coulis.Repeat the process, you'll get 2 layers.
Bananas are the traditional alternative to strawberries. Top with roughly chopped pecans or walnuts. And a splash of rum!
A drop of booze in the macerated fruit turns this into a more adult dessert – triple sec or cassis are nice with strawberries.
Add spices to the whipped cream:
Black pepper for strawberries
Crushed cardamom, cinnamon or nutmeg for banana
Ginger for stone fruit such as plums.
Don’t assemble this Eton mess recipe until you’re ready to serve.
Serve this dessert in chilled trifle glasses, or if you’re hosting a party, simply set out a buffet with a large dish of your meringue/cream mixture, a bowl of crushed meringue, and a bowl of the berry sauce. Let your guests assemble their own Eton mess dessert.
Making In Advance And Storing
While you can make all of the elements of Eton mess in advance, I do not recommend assembling or preparing these desserts until moments before you are ready to serve.
Meringue: Bake up to a week in advance and store in an airtight container at room temperature.
Strawberries: You can macerate your berries and make the sauce as far as a day or two in advance, keep them in an airtight container in the fridge.
The whipped cream: Made up to 24 hours in advance (store in an airtight container in the fridge), but do not fold your meringue into the cream or assemble the ingredients until just before serving.
- Can you freeze Eton Mess? That’s a big nono, the cream would dissolve the meringue and the fruit would go really squishy
- Can I make Eton Mess in advance? Yes, to a certain degree. As aforementioned, you could always have the cream already whipped and the fruit already chopped in the fridge so it’s purely an assembly job.
- Difference between Eton Mess (meringue) and Pavlova A meringue is a mixture of whisked egg whites and sugar, these meringues are baked at a low heat for a long time and effectively they are dried out rather than necessarily cooked. A pavlova is a type of meringue. Pavlovas have a marshmallow-like centre. They have cornflour (cornstarch) included in the mixture as this helps to give the centre its soft texture and they are usually cooked at a higher temperature for a shorter time.
If you make this recipe for Eton Mess, please let me know! Leave a comment below or take a photo and tag me on Instagram with #WhatsUpDoughBakes.