Eton Mess

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

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!).

Eton Mess

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.

Eton Mess

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!

Eton Mess
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Author: Carrie @ poet in the pantry
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 4
Meringue Cookies
  • 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
Whipped Cream
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ⅛ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 2 Tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
Meringue Cookies
  1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees Fahrenheit. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. 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.
  3. Gradually beat in the sugar, beating it in in 3 additions.
  4. Beat on high until glossy stiff peaks form. This could take a while if it’s hot and humid.
  5. 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).
  6. 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.**
  7. Turn the heat off and prop the oven door open with a wooden spoon, letting the meringues dry out entirely in the oven.
  1. 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).
  2. Cover and let macerate on the counter for 1 hour.
Whipped Cream
  1. When ready to assemble, combine the whipping cream, vanilla, salt, and confectioners’ sugar in a large mixing bowl.
  2. Using a hand-held electric mixer, whip until light and fluffy.
  1. Take out 4 half-pint jars and set aside.
  2. Roughly chop half the meringue cookies; you can reserve the rest for another use.
  3. Spoon some of the macerated strawberries in the bottom of each jar.
  4. Spoon some chopped meringue over the top of that.
  5. Spoon some whipped cream over the top of the meringue layer.
  6. Repeat, topping with a slice of strawberry.
  7. Serve immediately; the meringues will soften the longer it sits.
You can halve the meringue recipe, but how do you get ½ an egg white? It’s just as easy to make all of it and save the leftovers for something else. Or increase the other components and make more.

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.

And now… let’s see the messes everyone else made!

  • Coconut Rhubarb Mess from Fried Ice and Donut Holes
  • Eton Mess from Suitcases & Sweets
  • Cherry Chocolate Eton Mess from Food Babbles
  • Eton Mess from Omeletta
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  1. I like the idea of throwing a bunch of things together and the outcome is something amazing!!! This sound absolutely delicious! Visiting from the SITS Girls FB page!

    1. Isn’t it great when a great big mess turns into something just perfect? 🙂 Welcome!

    • Alyssa D. {Suitcases & Sweets} on 1 July, 2013 at 12:24 pm
    • Reply

    Gorgeous! This was such an easy dessert to make and the variations are endless. I love the kiwi idea! Great challenge this month! 🙂

    1. I’m so glad you enjoyed it! This one is a real winner–so versatile!

    • Melissa on 1 July, 2013 at 12:33 pm
    • Reply

    Your mess turned out beautifully! Putting them in a mason jar is a brilliant idea for a picnic!! What a fun challenge this month! 🙂

    1. Yay! Sounds like this month was a huge success–thanks for participating! 🙂

    • Photog Cynthia on 1 July, 2013 at 1:52 pm
    • Reply

    This looks like the most fabulous dessert for a 4th of July picnic. Thanks. Found you via SITS. Off to read more of your recipes. Have a great day. It’s going to be a hot one here in California.

    1. Welcome! You’re right–while it’s a British dessert, it seems very fitting for 4th of July. Maybe add some blueberries for color?

  2. Don’t you just love when things come together so perfectly??? Love it!

    1. Looks like you’ve been layering, too! 🙂 Love the Layered Patriotic Drink you have on your blog right now, Ashley! It’s so festive!

    • Donna@ What the Dog Ate on 1 July, 2013 at 3:37 pm
    • Reply

    That looks beautiful and delish!

    1. Thank you, Donna! The kids fought over it–I couldn’t spoon it out fast enough!

  3. Love the idea of serving these for a picnic! I made mine in jars and didn’t even think about the portability factor. Great idea! And these messes look amazing. Yum!!!

    1. Thank you for the great idea of making this in the first place! I don’t usually make desserts in jars, but this one just lends itself to well to the idea. Now I just need more jars… 😉

  4. Carrie, these are so beautiful! I can’t wait to give them a try…I LOVE meringue! Your site looks gorgeous!

    1. Thank you, Caroline! 🙂 I hope you like it as much as the last recipe you tried!

    • Ruthy @ Omeletta on 2 July, 2013 at 3:03 pm
    • Reply

    I was totally with you on meringue troubles- mine would not dry out for the life of me! The perils of baking in June, I suppose! I love that kiwi idea- One of the things I liked most about this challenge was how many ways there were to switch it up.

    1. This challenge has to be one of the more versatile ones we’ve completed. On the plus side, once you do get the meringues to dry out, the extras store pretty well in sealed plastic bags. So if you always have a supply on hand, this is super easy to whip up for a last minute dessert.

  5. Haha, and for the me the “throwing it all together” totally threw me off, I’m a layers girl 🙂 Yours are lovely!

    1. In theory, you could throw it all together. But I know exactly how you feel. Thank you!

  6. Never even heard of this dessert, but it’s totally right up my alley–I LOVE meringue! I’m going to look into joining First on the First, it looks fun!

    1. Please do join us! It’s so much fun! Shoot me an email if you’re serious and I’ll give you the details.

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