Named for the venerable public school in England, Eton Mess is a delightfully untidy mixture of strawberries, crunchy meringue and whipped cream. As a foil to all this sweetness, I introduced raspberries to the strawberry mixture and added some crème fraiche to the whipped cream to give it a subtle tang. The result is a light, yet indulgent dessert that really captures the casual spirit of summer. If you want to simplify the process, feel free to use store-bought meringue kisses and jump right to Step #5.
Makes 4 to 6 servings
- 2 large (60 grams) egg whites, at room temperature
- 1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 1/2 cup (100 grams) granulated sugar
Saucy Red Berries:
- 2 1/2 cups (312 grams) ripe strawberries
- 2 tablespoons (15 grams) confectioners’ sugar
- 1 tablespoon (15 grams) freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 1/2 cups (170 grams) fresh raspberries
- 1 1/2 cups (348 grams) cold heavy cream
- ½ cup (121 grams) crème fraiche or sour cream
- 1 teaspoon vanilla paste
- 1/3 cup (38 grams) confectioners’ sugar
Make the Meringue Kisses:
- Position 2 racks near the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 225˚F (if you have a convection oven, by all means use it – set it to 200˚F). Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Fit a disposable pastry bag with a large open star tip (I used a ½-inch “French star” tip, Ateco #867) and fold the top of the bag over and down a few inches.
- Place the egg whites and cream of tartar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beginning whipping the whites on low speed, slowly increasing the speed to medium-high and whipping until the whites are frothy and just beginning to hold soft peaks. Now begin to add the sugar, sprinkling it in very slowly, a small spoonful at a time (this is important, because you want the sugar to dissolve completely, and this takes time – be patient). Once you’ve added all the sugar, beat the meringue at high speed until it is thick, glossy and holds stiff peaks. (You should be able to turn the bowl upside down without the meringue budging at all.)
- Fill the prepared bag with the meringue. Pipe a small dab of the meringue under each corner of the parchment paper on each baking sheet to hold the paper in place. Pipe kisses onto the prepared baking sheets, ranging in size from ½-inch to 1-inch in diameter, spacing them about 1/2 inch apart. Put the meringues in the oven and bake for 1 hour, then turn the oven off and leave them in the oven for at least 1 hour, or until dry to the touch.
- Reserve 6 nice-looking meringue kisses to garnish the desserts. Place the remaining kisses in a large, resealable plastic bag and seal the bag. Using a rolling pin, roughly crush the meringue kisses, so that you have pieces of varying sizes.
Make the Saucy Red Berries:
- Cut off the tops of the strawberries and rinse the berries. Put 1 cup (125 grams) of the berries (use the largest ones) in a food processor or blender and process until puréed. Transfer to a medium bowl and whisk in the confectioners’ sugar and lemon juice.
- Cut the remaining strawberries in quarters and add them to the purée, along with the raspberries, tossing them well to coat with the purée. (Cover and refrigerate if not using within the next 30 minutes.)
Make the Whipped Cream:
- In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the cream, crème fraiche and vanilla at medium-high speed until soft peaks just begin to form. Add the confectioners’ sugar and continue to whip until stiff peaks just start to form. (You can make the cream and refrigerate it, covered, up to 6 hours in advance.)
Assemble the desserts:
- Assemble the desserts right before serving: Spoon a layer of the berry mixture in the bottom of a serving glass (about ¼ cup). Top with a layer of the crushed meringue and then a layer of the whipped cream. Repeat layering, then top with a few berries and a reserved meringue kiss. Serve immediately.