Thursday, April 28, 2011

Strawberry Mess {Eton Mess}

On my continuing quest to bring you some yummy English treats to celebrate the upcoming Royal Wedding, I introduce you to Eton Mess. If you haven't heard of this dessert or tasted it, let me just tell you that it is pure yumminess in a dish.  In true English style, the ingredients are simple but the taste is anything but. It is simply meringue cookies (or nests), whipped cream, and strawberries all combined together, hence the name "mess".

This dessert is absolutely perfect for this time of year when strawberries are coming into season. Also, in the summer if you don't want a really heavy dessert but crave something sweet, then this is a must-try! This dish was created at Eton College where Prince William attended school. It is said that this was one of his favorite desserts while attending school there and it is still one of his favorites today. And I have to tell ya that this is one of my hubby's favorites as well. Want some shortcuts to making this dish? See my time saving tips below!

Ingredients:
For the meringue cookies*: 
3 large egg whites
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
3/4 cup of white granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For the whipped cream*:
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 tablespoon granulated white sugar

Strawberries:
1 pound fresh strawberries
2 tablespoons granulated white sugar


Directions:
Meringue Cookies:  
Preheat oven to 200 degrees F and place the rack in the center of your oven. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In the bowl of your electric mixer, with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites on medium speed until foamy. Add the cream of tartar and continue to beat the whites until they hold soft peaks. Add the sugar, a little at a time, and continue to beat until the meringue holds very stiff peaks. Beat in the vanilla extract. (Note: The meringue is done when it holds stiff peaks and when you rub a little between your thumb and index finger it doesn't feel gritty. If it feels gritty the sugar has not fully dissolved so keep beating until it feels smooth between your fingers.)

Before placing the cookies on the cookie sheet, place a little of the meringue on the underside of each corner of the parchment paper. This will prevent the paper from sliding.  Then, using two spoons or a cookie scoop, place 12 equal sized mounds of meringue onto the prepared baking sheet. 

Bake the meringues for approximately 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 hours, rotating the baking sheet from front to back (about half way through) to ensure even baking. The meringues are done when they are pale in color and fairly crisp. Turn off the oven, open the door a crack, and leave the meringues in the oven to finish cooling. Makes about 12 - 2 1/2 inch meringues
So easy to make your own meringues.  And so delicious!

Whipped Cream:In a large mixing bowl place the whipping cream,vanilla extract, and sugar and stir to combine. Cover and chill the bowl and wire whisk in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. When chilled, beat the mixture until stiff peaks form. If not using right away, cover and place in the refrigerator. (The whipped cream can be made several hours in advance.) I like to use my stand mixer for this - makes the job much quicker.

Strawberries: Place about one third of the strawberries in your food processor and process until just pureed. Or you can just mash them with a potato masher or fork. Cut the rest of the strawberries into bite size pieces and place in a small bowl, along with the pureed strawberries. Sprinkle the granulated white sugar over the strawberries and stir to combine (can be made about one hour before assembling the Eton Mess).

To assemble: Break five to six meringue cookies (use more or less if you like) into bite size pieces. Then fold the strawberries and meringue cookies into the whipped cream. Place in pretty dessert bowls or long stemmed glasses. And for extra strawberry flavor, drizzle with strawberry sauce.  Serve immediately.
Makes 4 - 6 servings.
*Time Saving Shortcuts:  Meringue cookies are super easy to make but many grocery stores now carry them already premade. You can sometimes find them in the bakery section or cookie aisle of your store.   Don't want to make the real whipped cream? No problem, just use an 8 oz. tub of thawed Cool Whip!

Also, the components of this dish can be made a few hours in advance (the meringue cookies can actually be made several days before and placed in an airtight container). But you don't want to assemble the final dish until right before serving. You don't want your meringue cookies to be mushy.  Also, this is absolutely excellent with raspberries as well or try combining raspberries with the strawberries - yum!

Enjoy!


Don't forget to check out the rest of my recipes from the Royal Wedding Series:


26 comments:

Siggy Spice said...

I love, love, LOVE meringue cookies! As a child, we would go to a German Bakery that made them fresh everyday and out of all the pastries, I always picked the "cloud cookies"! Now I just buy the vanilla meringues from Trader Joes, lol! I am totally making this, it sounds A-MAZING!!!

Gloria said...

I lov e Eton Mess and this look georgeous!! gloria

Haley @ The Girly Girl Cooks said...

Fun! I'm making an eton mess tomorrow along with a cottage pie!

Melynda said...

I have really enjoyed the posts on English foods. Not knowing much about the cuisine of that country, I am finding it refreshing. Thanks.

Pretend Chef said...

If I had the heavy whipping cream. Sigh. This looks so delicious. Anything dessert with fruit, especially strawberries, makes me feel less guilty. Yummy!

Holly said...

Mmmmmm This sounds so light and refreshing!

Ang said...

Thanks for the bit of info. I have never actually made my own meringue before, but it seems it should be pretty easy. Either way, this dessert looks so refreshing.

Lark (SparkyLarky) said...

Oh this sounds divine.
Perfect for my Girl Lunch Date! ;)

Thanks for sharing.

Brooks Walker said...

My word, dear Brandie...this looks lovely! It resembles a trifle, perhaps lighter, more luscious? Nonetheless it's dreamy to me. I'll be filing this one under "get on it!"

Lois Arnold said...

Oh yum! Like a meringe torte only using cookies. I like!

Patti said...

These look "bloody" great! Well done dahling!

Evan B said...

I love meringue, but sadly it's been too humid in our house to make them recently :( As soon as we start using the AC this mess is all mine!!

Veronica Gantley said...

I have had this many times. I am lazy and usually buy the cookies.

Carolyn said...

First I ever heard of Eton Mess was in Ina Garten's new cookbook. I think it's hilarious, and probably pretty darn tasty too!

celia said...

Totally cool. Glad to find someone else getting into Royal Wedding cookery. Eton mess always reminds me of a lightened-up trifle: yours looks so fluffy and lovely!

Jill Colonna said...

Brandie, this looks delicious and haven't had this in years! True, it's far from a mess, eh? Never understood why the Brits have to be so different and confuse everyone between the public and private schools...

Kristen said...

I have never had Eton Mess, but it's been on my list for quite a while. Your version looks simply scrumptious!

Sandra said...

Wonderful dessert, and I have never tried to make meringues myself:))
But I love how you did it!
Have a wonderful evening!

scratch-made wife said...

I want to make meringue cookies so bad. I have no idea why - I've never eaten them. I guess I just think they look cute. So why, oh why, do I never buy cream of tartar?

Lizzy said...

Brandie, these would be a hit at Chez Berg! All my favorites messed up together...brilliant and delish!!

spcookiequeen said...

Never heard of an Eton Mess, but I'd like one. Anything with whip cream, strawberries and cookies has to be good. All these English treats is getting me in the mood for the wedding.
-GIna-

thecompletecookbook said...

The Royal wedding preliminaries are on the telly while I read your post.
Eton Mess is lovely - simple and tasty.
:-) Mandy

Cheryl and Adam @ pictureperfectmeals.com said...

Meringue, and whipped cream and strawberries! What more could you possibly ask for on a spring evening? Yummy and perfect for this time of year...

Siggy Spice said...

Words cannot express the party in my mouth tonight. This was FABULOUS! Seriously AMAZING!

Mama J said...

Oh this looks so good! Can't wait to try it!!! Thanks for reposting it on Facebook- I'm not sure how it slipped by me the first time! :)

Marcia Duggan said...

Your dessert looked really delicious! When I separated the eggs for the meringue I looked at those yolks and thought about incorporating them somehow into the recipe as well. I made a vanilla pudding with them. Then I realized that I now had the makings for a pretty awesome trifle! Just the thing to break in my new trifle bowl! Awesome! Thanks for the inspiration!