Thursday, August 9, 2012

Let's make a mess - an Eton one of course!!

But why is it called Eton Mess? Because it is traditionally served at the Eton College annual cricket game against the students of Winchester College. The word mess I would suspect refers to the look of the dish which is very rustic and free form but that part cannot be confirmed through my Googling. Strawberries are the traditional fruit used in an Eton Mess, for it is England after all, but I have chosen to use raspberries as there were no decent strawberries to be had and then along came some excellently priced and highly desirable cherries so I mixed the two - and why not?

It is so simple, with three main ingredients, and disarmingly charming! ...and if you choose to use purchased meringues instead of making them well then it's also awfully easy - just a matter of whipping cream, macerating berries and assembling your mess!

Always read through the recipe first to know what you need, and what you need to do and when.

You will need the following for one large serving or two small - I ate the whole thing above top and am now sitting here feeling a little overwhelmed so I suggest, if you can control yourself, to make this for two people - or one person at two sittings :) Of course you can double, triple or more for a crowd and everything will work just as well.

1 cup heavy/double cream - buy the very best you can, whipped with a couple of tablespoons of sugar (less or more to taste, your choice) and a teaspoon of vanilla. Return to the fridge after you have whipped it.

6-8ozs of your chosen fruit - strawberries, raspberries, blueberries - cooked gooseberries if you can find them - and I used cherries because I love them so - tossed with a good tablespoon of sugar and macerated for a couple of hours until the juices run.

4 small meringues either made or bought - recipe follows if you want to make your own
This ingredient list is very loose you can have more or less of whatever you want and it will still taste marvellous!
Here are my cherries and raspberries macerating happily
MERINGUE RECIPE: Try to make on a dry day - humidity and thunderstorms can either effect the consistency of the beaten eggs or make them curdle - so the dryer the day the better - my day was a little humid and they turned out a little chewier than I personally like but they were still very good.
Set the oven at 250F – nice and low. Cover your baking tray with a sheet of parchment or greaseproof paper – no need to grease the paper.

2 egg whites at room temperature
4 ozs sugar...fine if don't want your meringues to be gritty - mine were a bit gritty because I use organic sugar from the Belfast Coop and it doesn't come in fine - and I am OK with a little grittiness in my meringues
1/2 teaspoon of vinegar
1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract

1. Whip the egg whites until stiff

2. Add sugar 2 tablespoons at a time and whip, whip, whip until all the sugar has been added and the result is glossy and dense and divine as the picture below.
After much whipping you end up with a lovely dense deliciousness about the consistency of really good mayonnaise.
3. Mix vinegar and vanilla together in a small bowl and then gently fold into the egg white and sugar confection.

4. Pile dollops of meringue onto parchment and spread out into rough and rustic rounds for this is called a mess and the meringues end up being broken apart so their appearance is not important!
This was the first batch I made - they looked great going in the oven but they just did not set up - they stayed bouncy and soft - took me a while to back track and eventually discover I had only put in half the amount of sugar I should have done - so if you halve or double recipes do make sure you get the quantities right!
5. Bake in a 250F oven for about an hour and a half then turn oven off and leave meringues in there to cool - this is for a meringue that still has some softness and chew in the centre - if, like me, you prefer a meringue that is like ceramic (and yes I know that is not fashionable because of French macaron everyone wants a bit of chew) then you can cook for another hour making sure that they do not brown - so check on them occasionally.

The second batch baked to perfection!

So you have sweetened whipped cream, your chosen macerated berries and your perfect meringues - heaven is just a short while away!

TO ASSEMBLE Choose an attractive vessel for your ambrosial delight - plop some whipped cream in the bottom, crush a couple of meringues over this, dollop half the fruit over that and repeat. And now you have an ETON MESS - to make it even more perfect I like to let the flavours meld a little - pop in the fridge for about an hour - take out, allow to warm a little and dig in!!

Please do let me know if you try this and what you think and if you make one why not post your pictures and thoughts on my Facebook page at

Here are some pictures of the day lilies blooming in my garden right now - aren't they the most wonderful colours and look at the red leaves on the two different individual ones - they are the opposite formation from one another!

Happy messing about everyone!

If perchance you like my jaunty little Union Jack design as seen in the top picture here's a link to many and varied items adorned with such at my CafePress shop. Cheers!


Nic said...

One of my favourite puds, great photos Patricia!

June said...

Yummmmm....I've enjoyed Eton Mess a few times while visiting England, but I've never actually made it here at home, as a treat for the hubby and myself. After reading this lovely and delicious and fun post, I think I'm going to give it a go. Those day lilies are stunningly beautiful, Patricia. Isn't nature absolutely awesome (in the real, original sense of the word 'awesome')? Thanks for sharing - both the mess and the beauty.