Eton Mess

Isn’t it unfortunate that a beautiful summer dessert would have such an undignified name?  Perhaps this traditional British dish started out as a “throw-together”, as many good recipes do.  But, whatever the name, it is a perfect example of a sweet, seasonal treat.  Bright, fresh berries (strawberries are the preferred choice), smooth cream, and crunchy meringues combine for a quick and easy-to-make dessert.  I just happened to have meringues on hand:  after making the lemon tart last weekend I baked the leftover meringue and stored the crunchy discs in an airtight container.

Store bought meringues would be just as good in a pinch.  So here is everything you need to proceed:

Eton Mess
for about 4-6 servings
1 1/2 to 2 cups diced strawberries (rinse, hull, and dice before measuring)
1 cup heavy cream, chilled
1 1/2 to 2 cups roughly broken pieces of crunchy meringues.
granulated sugar to taste (for macerating the strawberries)

Place the diced berries in a medium bowl, and add about 2 tablespoons of sugar (adjust this to your taste).  Let them sit for about 45 minutes.  Just before you are ready to serve the dessert, whip the cream to soft peaks in a large bowl.  Fold the strawberries and some of their juices, along with the meringue pieces, into the whipped cream.  Spoon the mixture into serving dishes and drizzle a little of the strawberry syrup over each serving.  Garnish with additional strawberry slices, if you like.

*Eton Mess can be made with your favorite summer berry.  If you have any leftovers, use them as a dessert topping for fresh fruit or poundcake.  The crunch of the meringues will be gone, but it will still be a delicious treat.

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