It's a kind of Eton Mess
On exactly this day last year I read a post that caught my attention and has been in the back of my mind ever since. My friend Monkey Gland at Jam Faced was writing about Eton Mess, a traditional English dessert named for the public Boys School, Eton College, where it is served on June 4th for the annual prize giving picnic that celebrates the birthday of King George III, the most beloved of the school's Royal patrons. [A 'public' school is actually a 'private' fee-paying school in Britain, there is nothing at all public about it, just in case you want to make yourself really confused].
The post surprised me because I hadn't actually ever heard of Eton Mess, perhaps because I am a bit of prole, I didn't go to public school and I grew up without all of the upper-crust trappings in life. In our family we had been getting our meringue fix by making the Antipodean Pavlova, a similar but far more beautiful dessert, named for the Russian ballerina and somewhat reminiscent of a fruit-laden tutu, instead.
I can't help but wonder if Eton Mess was actually born of a failed Pavlova? Either way, the pairing of meringue, fresh fruit and cream in both desserts is a match made in heaven. Eton Mess is traditionally made from strawberries which are at their best, in England, in June, when the dessert is served. Conceivably you could use any other delicious, seasonal fruit of your choice. Last week, inspired by Maki I made a version that included homemade amaretti as well as meringue, amaretto whipped cream, handmade peach jam, sliced peaches and toasted flaked almonds.
This week, I decided, since they are my favourite summer berry, to try a raspberry version of Eton Mess. Here follows the method I developed, but once you've mastered the meringues, you can be as creative as you want with the creamy party of the dessert. By adding cornflour and vinegar to the meringue, the result will be crispy on the outside and soft, gooey and chewy in the centre.
4 egg whites
1 cup of bakers or castor (fine) sugar
2 teaspoons cornflour
1 teaspoon white vinegar.
- preheat the oven to 300F
- whisk the egg whites until they form stiff peaks
- gradually whisk in the sugar, the misture should be glossy and smooth
- gently fold in the sieved cornflour and vinegar until well blended.
- spoon blobs of the meringue onto a baking sheet lined with a silpat.
- (this recipe yields 20 dessert-spoon sized meringue blobs)
- Put the tray in the center of the oven and immediately lower the temperature to 250F
- After 35 minutes, turn the oven off completely and leaving the meringues in place until the oven has completely cooled down. [I actually cook them just before I go to bed and leave them over night].
2 punnets of raspberries
zest of half a lemon
sprinkle of sugar [to taste]
a glug of framboise liqueur
1 cup of chilled whipping cream
-wash raspberries and put in a bowl with lemon zest. Sprinkle with sugar to your taste and splash with some raspberry liqueur.
- leave in the fridge for half an hour
- whip the cream until thick
- just before serving stir the raspberries into the cream.
- Crush 10 of the meringues into the cream and raspberries and stir gently to mix.
- divide into 10 bowls and then top each dessert with a remaining meringue blob.
- Serve immediately.
Please note this yields 10 modest servings. Eating twice this amount would not be a hardship to anyone, so you can adapt the serving sizes easily according to how many people you are feeding. Remember, meringue is very light and not too fattening, should you need an excuse for eating greater quantities of it!
Links, Resources and Further Reading
Framboise Liqueur | from St George Spirits
Happy Eggs | from 3 Wise Hens
|Archive Alert! On this day in 2005: Utensibility Shopping Trip|
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