Eton Mess

“Eton ____; pudding of whipped cream, broken meringue and strawberries, said to have been invented when a Labrador sat on a pavlova at a school open day.”

Kate Mepham crossword in The Daily Telegraph

 

 

I am very keen on contrasting textures in food (see snappy-earthy green salad) and there is no better example of this than the crunchy and simultaneously creamy Eton mess.

 

Substitute fruit for strawberries

This eponymous pud was originally served at the Eton College ‘sock’ (tuck) shop in the 1930s as a mix of strawberries or bananas with cream or ice cream. The meringue was added later. Now people add or substitute all kinds of other fruit – raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, kiwi fruit, mango and peach. At Pollen Street Social they make it with blackcurrants – if you experiment with this you could add a bit of British cassis into the mix. 

 

You can cut the cream with….

And you can mix in fromage frais and strawberry (or whatever fruit is appropriate) yoghurt into the mix. Phil Vickery adds a rose petal sauce made with rose petals, lemon juice and icing sugar, and you can give it an even more middle eastern flavour by adding chopped pistachios and basil. But Life really is Too Short – the beauty of this pudding is that it is something you can throw together literally in seconds. 

 

The meringue

You can, of course, buy ready made meringues but honestly, they taste like polystyrene (well, at least what I imagine polystyrene to taste like, I’ve never actually tried it). And in the ‘old days’ it was tempting to do if only so as not to be flooded with egg yolks and forced by guilt into making mountains of mayonnaise. However now you can buy packs of egg whites on their own. Two Chicks is good (a 500g pack is equal to 15 egg whites, two tablespoons of it equals one egg white).  If you have an AGA the main challenge is not to forget all about the meringues cooking slowly in the bottom-left. Once made however they keep for ages in an air tight container.

 

Recipe for Eton mess

 

for four people then, you would need about:

  • 500g/1 lb 2 oz of fruit
  • ¼cup/50g of sugar
  • ½ teasp vanilla paste
  • 2 cups/500 ml double cream
  • about 8 meringues of about 2″/5 cm diameter or perhaps a couple more

 

  1. sprinkle the sugar over the fruit
  2. whip the cream in the bowl you want to serve the mess in, together with the vanilla paste
  3. slice the fruit into smallish pieces (small enough to eat without cutting) and similarly break the meringue into bite size pieces
  4. mix all together and serve immediately. You can prepare all three elements ahead of time, but don’t mix until the last minute or it will all go soggy.

 

 © 2014 Saucy Dressings

 

 

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