June is here, and time for some lighter summer desserts. If you are wondering what an Eton Mess is, it is the best kind of mess. Bits of meringue, whipped cream and fresh fruit (usually strawberries) make up a delightfully airy dessert with all those textures balancing out into the perfect bite. How this British concoction came about is a bit of a debate. The most accepted version involves an Eton v Harlow cricket match in the late 19th century and a dropped meringue/strawberry/cream pudding All I know for sure is that it is quite scrumptious. And easy, and the perfect summer dessert.
From AnkarsrumUSA recipe developer, Carmi Adams:
There are three components to this dessert. First up, the meringues. These whip up quickly in the plastic whipping bowl with the balloon whisks. I used the kind of meringue I prefer: very easy, near impossible to mess up, and a bit like pavlova, since the exterior gets nice and crispy and the interior is still a bit marshmallowy.
These don’t get whipped for very long, which is why I use baker’s sugar/ultrafine sugar, so it can dissolve as quick as possible.
Since the meringues are going to get crushed up, there is really no need to try to make them look spectacular. I just aim for approximately the same size so they bake evenly, and don’t worry about the rest.
The meringues need to bake and then cool in the oven. This step is very important, since they will continue to cook as they cool.
While the meringues bake and cool, the other two components can be made up. The strawberries don’t require much effort: slice up, mix with a little sugar and some jam to thicken the juices that will release as they sit. You can just cover and let sit at room temperature for a few hours until ready to use.
Last but not least is the cream. This dessert is supposed to be made with double cream, which has a butterfat content of 42%. That can be hard to find in the USA though, so the next best thing would be heavy whipping cream (not ultra-pasteurized), which has a butterfat content of around 36%. I gave the whipping cream a creamier, slightly thicker texture by adding in some mascarpone.
To assemble, my preferred method is to break 3/4 of the meringues into pieces and fold into whipped cream with just a few spoonfuls of the strawberries. Then spoon into individual bowls or goblets and top with remaining strawberries and crushed meringues.
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Inactive Time: 1 hour
3 egg whites
pinch kosher salt
6 g (1 tsp.) lemon juice
5 g. (1 tsp.) vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract
175 g. (1 cup) ultrafine sugar
452 g. (1 pound) fresh strawberries
5 g. (1 tsp.) sugar
57 g. (2 Tbsp.) strawberry jam
1 container (226 g./8 oz.) mascarpone, room temperature
28 g. (2 Tbsp.) vanilla sugar (or 28 g. regular sugar and 2.5 g / 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract)
345 g. (1 1/2 cups) heavy whipping cream
Preheat oven to 275º F. Line two half sheet pans with parchment paper.
In the plastic whipping bowl with the balloon whisks, whip the egg whites, salt and lemon juice on medium high speed (4 o’clock) until frothy. Add vanilla bean paste. Turn mixer back on and slowly begin to add sugar. Once sugar is all added, turn up speed to highest setting and let whip approximately 3 minutes until peaks almost fully hold their shape. Test by lifting balloon whisks out of bowl. Peak should only slightly fold over at the very top.
Spoon 2-3 tbsp. batter per each meringue onto prepared pans, leaving 2 inches between meringues.
Bake for 45 minutes. Turn oven off and crack oven door 3-4 inches. Let meringues cool for 1 hour in oven. Once cooled, remove from pan and use immediately or store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week.
Remove stems and cut strawberries into uniform pieces. Gently mix in a medium bowl with sugar and jam. Cover and let sit at least one hour so strawberries can release some of their juices. Can be made 4-5 hours in advance.
For whipped cream:
In the plastic whipping bowl with the balloon whisks, whip together the mascarpone and vanilla sugar on medium speed (3 o’clock) for 1 minute. Scrape down sides.
Add the heavy whipping cream and begin whipping on medium-low speed (2 o’clock). As mixture begins to thicken, increase speed to 6 o’clock. Whip until just past soft peaks, or to desired consistency.
To assemble: Break 3/4 of meringues into pieces and place in a large bowl. Gently fold in whipped cream mixture and a couple spoonfuls of strawberries. Spoon into serving bowls. Crush up remaining meringue and top desserts, along with rest of strawberries. Serve immediately.