You have to love any dessert that has “mess” in its title. Doesn’t have to look perfect? That’s right up my alley! Take a bunch of components, throw them all together in a bowl, and serve it. LOVE this concept! Granted, if you take a little time to layer the components, the presentation will be so much nicer. But it will all just end up in a jumble before it reaches your belly anyway. No need to stress here.
Eton Mess is traditionally served at Eton College‘s annual cricket game against Harrow School in June (and if you understand anything in that link, please translate for me!). In its basic form, it is made up of layers of fruit, meringue pieces, and whipped cream. Strawberries are most common, but just about any fruit can be used. (If you browse Pinterest, you’ll see a lot of kiwi Eton Messes–reminds me a bit of the pavlova I had at the Australian Tourism luncheon!).
You can use store-bought meringue cookies, but it’s really not that hard to make your own. Keep in mind, however, that in hot, sticky, humid weather, it will take longer for the egg whites to whip up to stiff peaks AND the meringues will take longer to dry out. In my case, we’re talking hours longer. I fell asleep at 2 AM, giving up, and restarted when I woke up the next morning. Or a few hours later, because it really wasn’t the “next” anything at that point. At least having the oven on at 200 degrees Fahrenheit doesn’t seem to make a noticeable difference to the ambient temperature.
Wouldn’t these be so pretty at a picnic? Place the lids on for travel and you won’t have a mess in your car. Just make sure you assemble the same day you’ll be serving them–or your Mess could be an even bigger mess!
- 3 large egg whites, cold (not from a carton!!!)
- 2 pinches fine sea salt
- ⅔ cup organic sugar
- 4 cups strawberries, washed, hulled, and sliced
- 2 Tablespoons organic sugar
- 1 Tablespoon Triple Sec
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ⅛ teaspoon fine sea salt
- 2 Tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
- Preheat oven to 200 degrees Fahrenheit. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites and salt until they are foamy and getting white–about 2 minutes.
- Gradually beat in the sugar, beating it in in 3 additions.
- Beat on high until glossy stiff peaks form. This could take a while if it’s hot and humid.
- Using 2 spoons, scoop out lumps of meringue and scrape onto the prepared baking sheets, spacing 1 inch apart (they won’t spread, but you’ll want to give them some room for air circulation).
- Bake for 2 hours, rotating sheets in the middle. **This could take significantly longer if your meringue mounds are quite large or it’s quite humid. Keep baking until they are no longer tacky on the surface.**
- Turn the heat off and prop the oven door open with a wooden spoon, letting the meringues dry out entirely in the oven.
- About an hour before you’re ready to make the Eton Mess, slice your strawberries and combine them with sugar and Triple Sec. If the strawberries aren’t very sweet, add more sugar to taste (I intentionally left mine not too sweet to balance out the sweet meringue cookies).
- Cover and let macerate on the counter for 1 hour.
- When ready to assemble, combine the whipping cream, vanilla, salt, and confectioners’ sugar in a large mixing bowl.
- Using a hand-held electric mixer, whip until light and fluffy.
- Take out 4 half-pint jars and set aside.
- Roughly chop half the meringue cookies; you can reserve the rest for another use.
- Spoon some of the macerated strawberries in the bottom of each jar.
- Spoon some chopped meringue over the top of that.
- Spoon some whipped cream over the top of the meringue layer.
- Repeat, topping with a slice of strawberry.
- Serve immediately; the meringues will soften the longer it sits.
What kinds of meringue desserts have you made?
Next month for First on the First, Kate and I will be pickling. Cucumbers are a great start, but they’re not the only veggies (fruits!) you can pickle. Take your summer harvest and put it up for the winter! If you’d like to join us, check out the First on the First tab above for more details on how to participate.