Not many desserts spell summer like Eton Mess. Crunchy meringue, whipped cream and strawberry sauce is a winning combination, best served al fresco. And it’s one that can be prepped in advance and then assembled when ready to eat. Children love joining in at this stage too – prepping – and eating that is.
The meringue can be bought but why when they’re SO easy to make and much nicer homemade I think, with a marshmallowy centre, rather than the brittle overly sweet shop bought version. It always makes me smile when I make meringue because when I was young I didn’t even know what they were, let alone how to pronounce meringue. I used to read it in my Enid Blyton books as Mering-yoo. And how was I to know any different? A dessert made with egg whites didn’t feature in my indian diet growing up. Having said that, my British mother in law who was a little girl during the war, said that she pronounced them Meringyoo as a child as well. Eggs were rationed in the war so things like Meringue were a luxury she didn’t know until after the war had ended. So there you go.
4 large egg whites
240g castor sugar
500g strawberries, hulled and chopped
500ml double cream
- Heat oven to 120C/100C fan/gas 1 and line a large baking tray with parchment paper.
- Whisk the egg whites in a clean bowl using an electric whisk or tabletop mixer until they reach stiff peaks, then add the sugar in 3 lots, re-whisking to stiff peaks every time.
- Then place bowl over childs head. If beaten egg whites don’t fall onto said child’s head, you’re on the right track! See pic above. My son loves this bit.
- Spoon dollops of the mixture onto the baking parchment, cook on the bottom shelf of the oven for 1hr – 1hr15 mins until the meringues are completely hard and come off the paper easily. Leave to cool.
- Blitz 1/3 of the strawberries to make a strawberry sauce. In a large bowl whisk the cream with the icing sugar until it just holds its shape.
- Don’t overwhisk or the cream will get too thick and dry, it needs to still be a bit creamy and wet. Don’t place this bowl over child’s head!
- Roughly crush ¾ of the meringyoo and tip them in with the chopped strawberries and stir, then swirl through the strawberry sauce.
- Dollop into bowls then crush the remaining meringues, sprinkling the pieces over the top and garnish with chopped peppermint.
For the twist I add a bit of rosewater to the cream and the strawberry sauce. I actually had this in Dishoom – a 1930s Bombay style cafe in London, and it works. A hark back to the days of the Raj I think, when the memsahibs brought this British pud recipe to India and the servants gave it a heady scent of rose by adding a dash of rosewater.
You can, if you like, also add blueberries, mango, passion fruit or kiwi fruit chopped up. My kids love decorating their meringue with an assortment of fruit.
A very sociable pudding if you have guests as you can rope them or their kids into decorating the meringue!