Eton Mess

Strawberries make a last appearance in this week’s recipe, but if strawberries have had their day, you can use any soft berry in season – raspberries are delicious.

Ripe berries, cream and meringue are pretty much all you need for this summer-long standby, and if you’ve no time to make meringue, you can hop across the street from the market for gigantic meringues from Maison Villatte.

Think of this as a deconstructed Pavlova, but easier, and appropriately called “Eton Mess.”

Eton Mess

  • 1 lb. strawberries, halved or sliced depending on size (raspberries, other small berries, can be left whole)
  • 1 Tbs. confectioner’s sugar
  • A tiny pinch of salt
  • A squeeze of lemon juice
  • 1 ½  cups heavy cream, well-chilled
  • For the meringue:
  • 2 egg whites
  • ½  cup sugar

Start with the meringues, if you’re making your own. Preheat oven to 250 F.

Whisk egg whites till they hold soft peaks. Gradually sprinkle in half the sugar, whisking well after each addition. Add the rest of the sugar and whisk until the meringue is smooth, shiny and holds stiff peaks.

Place spoonfuls of meringue on a parchment-lined baking sheet, and flatten to roughly half-inch-high discs. Slide into preheated oven for an hour or until crisp, gently turn meringues over, then leave in the switched-off oven to finish drying.

Meanwhile, put halved or sliced strawberries in a bowl. Squash some berries to get their juices flowing, sprinkle with sugar, a pinch of salt, and a squeeze of lemon. Macerate berries for at least half an hour to let their juices run.

Finish the mess just before serving: whip cream until it’s thick and billowy. Break meringues (about 3-4 ounces) into large bite-size pieces. Fold meringue pieces into whipped cream, then swirl in berries and juice for a ripple effect. Some of the crisp meringue will start softening in the cream, becoming slightly marshmallowy.

Spoon the mess into glasses or bowls and eat immediately!

Serves 4 – 6

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