I am having a little dinner party this weekend, and so fingers crossed it stays warm, because I really want to eat in our garden. And I really want to make the quintessential English dessert, an Eton Mess. So here is one of my best girlfriend’s recipes. I’ve made it before and its delicious. And so pretty too!
For the Meringues:
4 egg whites
225g caster sugar
(alternatively to cheat you can buy very nice ready made meringues from M & S)
For the rest:
Two punnets of strawberries (approx 800g), hulled and halved
600ml double cream
Tablespoon of icing sugar
1. If you are going for the non-cheating option then make the meringues first as it takes a bit of time. Preheat the oven to 140 degrees. Separate 4 eggs and put the whites in a spotlessly clean bowl (even a tiny bit of dust can stop the egg whites whisking properly.) Whisk until soft peaks form and then add the sugar one tablespoon at a time until you have a soft satiny peaks. (Nb. I always hate throwing away the egg yolks so if I am feeling very domesticated I make some lemon curd which needs plenty of yolks.) Then pipe or spoon the mixture into little domes on silicone paper and put on the oven. As soon as you have put the meringues in turn the oven down to 140 degrees. Bake for between 1hr and 1hr 30 (depending on how chewy you like the middle) and then switch off the oven. Then leave the meringues to cool completely in the oven whilst you do the rest of the prep. The longer they stay in the oven after it is turned off the yummier they will be. Once you take the meringues out of the oven break them into bitesize bits; too small and they will get lost in the mess.
2. Next make the strawberry puree. Using a hand held processor puree half the strawberries with the tablespoon of icing sugar. (If you can be bothered proper cooks say you should sieve the seeds out but I can never be bothered and have yet to have any complaints…)
3. Then whip the cream until soft peaks form (be very careful not to overwhip as it produces the most revolting consistency, it can sometimes be saved by adding some milk but once its gets grainy all is lost…)
4. In a large mixing bowl mix together the cream, the unpureed strawberries and the broken meringues. Then swirl in half of the puree. Once this mucky bit is done put the finished product in a pretty bowl (preferably glass to show the colours) and then pour the left over puree over the top.
Tip: It is best if this is mixed together just before serving as otherwise the meringue tends to sort of melt into the cream and you lose the lovely mixture of consistencies.
Serve in lovely little glass bowls.
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