- June 2010
- Serves 4-6
- Hands-on time 30 min, oven time 4 hours, plus cooling and overnight drying
What is Eton Mess? Well, this crowdpleasing trio of strawberries, cream and meringue is said to have originated at Eton College in the late 19th century after a pavlova-style dessert was dropped (or, some say, an over-excited labrador knocked the pavlova over…).
But, Debbie Major says, whether it came about by mishap or design, its timeless appeal is certain.
- Gluten-free recipes
- 36.2g (22.3g saturated)
- 30.9g (30.7g sugars)
For the meringues
- 2 large free-range egg whites at room temperature
- 135g icing sugar, sifted
For the strawberries and cream
- 500g small, sweetly ripe British strawberries, halved or quartered depending on size
- 400ml double cream
- 1 tbsp caster sugar
- Heat the oven to 100°C/80°C fan/gas ¼. Line 1 large or 2 small, sturdy baking sheets with non-stick baking paper. Put the egg whites in a large, spotlessly clean bowl and whisk using an electric mixer on a medium-high speed for 1 minute until thick and frothy but not yet forming soft peaks. Continuing on a medium-high speed, whisk in 1 tbsp of the icing sugar at a time, whisking for 10 seconds between each addition. Once all the sugar has been added, whisk for a further 15 minutes until the egg white is stiff, satin-smooth and glossy.
- Spoon about 16 heaped dessertspoonfuls of meringue onto the tray(s), spacing them well apart, then bake for 4 hours until the meringues are pale, dry and crisp all the way through. Turn off the oven and leave them inside to cool completely. Once cold, transfer immediately to an airtight container.
- Shortly before you’re ready to serve, put half the strawberries in a small bowl and crush lightly with a potato masher until some of their juices begin to flow – you’re not trying to create a purée. Break the meringues into pieces about the size of a brazil nut.
- Whip the cream with the sugar in a large bowl until the cream just begins to thicken and show signs of making soft peaks. Using a large metal spoon, fold in the crushed strawberries, meringue pieces and remaining fruit as quickly and lightly as you can until everything is only just mixed. Spoon into bowls or glasses and serve straightaway.
Use the egg yolks to make mayonnaise or stir in a pinch of sugar or salt,
put in a food bag, label and freeze for up to 3 months
Make the meringues at least the night before. Store in an airtight container in a cool place for up to 3 days. If your oven has a low setting, you can bake the meringues overnight at 60°C/50°C fan/gas ⅛ or as low as the oven will go.
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