I made a bunch of meringues the other day and worked them into two desserts. One was mini pavlovas with lemon whipped cream and berries, and the other was this Eton Mess. Traditionally Eton mess is made with whipped cream into which you fold broken pieces of meringue and top with macerated strawberries. I adapted the ingredients to what I had in the fridge and today it was raspberries and blackberries. I also made rhubarb and berry sauce to use as a base because I love sweet and tangy flavours, not just sweet. I think the sauce “made” the dessert.
Eton mess is associated with Eton College in the UK, found in 1440 by King Henry VI. It’s an all boys school where they played an annual cricket game and at the end of the game they served meringues with strawberries and whipped cream. Legend has it that a dog crushed the meringue on the way to the celebration and rather than discard it, the cooks folded the broken pieces into the whipped cream and a tradition was born. In any event, the recipe has some historical significance and is classically British.
You don’t have to make your own meringue for this, buying it at a good bakery is just fine, as the meringue plays a secondary role and gets broken and folded into the whipped cream. If you want to make a classic Eton Mess, use strawberries instead of the other berries.
Note: you can prepare all the components of the desserts in advance and assemble just before serving. It’s best to fold the meringue into the whipped cream at the last minute so it stays crisp.
1 basket berries or mixed berries
2 cups broken meringue (buy at a bakery or see how to make meringue here)
1 cup whipping cream
2 teaspoons sugar
Rhubarb-berry sauce (recipe below)
Whip the cream with the sugar until it is nice and fluffy.
Fold in the broken meringue including the powdery bits,
Spoon about a quarter cup of the berry sauce into dessert bowls or glasses.
Top with the meringue whipped cream.
Scatter a few berries on top.
4 stalks rhubarb
2/3 cup sugar (or less)
1/4 cup water
2 cups red berries (raspberries, strawberries)
Cut the rhubarb into 1 inch pieces and place in a pot together with the sugar and water.
Bring to a boil, then lower heat to a simmer and cook, uncovered, until the rhubarb is softened, about 10 minutes, watching not to burn it.
Add the berries and continue cooking until the sauce thickens, another 5 minutes or so. The sauce will thicken as it cools.
You will have more sauce than you need for this dessert. Keep it refrigerated and use leftover sauce to top cereal, pancakes or ice cream.