Delia

Eton Mess

This recipe, inspired by the strawberry-and-cream dessert traditionally served at Eton College on 4 June, is great for nervous meringue makers – because the meringues are broken up, it simply doesn't matter if they weep, crack or collapse. So, you can practise making them over and over with this dish until you get them perfect and, at the same time, enjoy this amazingly good summer dessert. Don't forget, though, to make the meringues the day before you want to serve the pudding.


Serves 6

This recipe is taken from How to Cook Book Two and has also appeared in Sainsbury's Magazine (Dairy Collection).

Eton Mess
Ingredients
 6 oz (175 g) golden caster sugar
 3 large egg whites
 1 lb (450 g) fresh strawberries, hulled
 1 rounded tablespoon unrefined icing sugar
 1 pint (570 ml) double cream
 Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 2, 300°F (150°C).
Equipment
You will also need a baking tray measuring 11 x 16 inches (28 x 40 cm), lined with non-stick silicone paper (parchment).

Method

First, have the caster sugar measured out ready, then place the egg whites in a scrupulously clean bowl and whisk until they form soft peaks that slightly tip over when you lift the whisk. Next, add the caster sugar, about a tablespoon at a time, and continue to whisk until each tablespoon of sugar has been thoroughly whisked in.

Now simply take rounded dessertspoonfuls of the mixture and place them in rows on the lined baking tray. Place the baking tray in the oven on the centre shelf, turn the heat down to gas mark 1, 275°F (140°C) and leave the meringues there for 1 hour.

After that, turn the oven off and leave the meringues in the oven to dry out overnight, or until the oven is completely cold.

When you're ready to make the pudding, chop half the strawberries and place them in a blender together with the icing sugar. Whiz the whole lot to a purée, then pass it through a nylon sieve to remove the seeds.

Now chop the rest of the strawberries and whip up the double cream to the floppy stage. All the above can be done in advance, but when you are ready to serve, break up the meringues into roughly 1 inch (2.5 cm) pieces, place them in a large mixing bowl, add the chopped strawberries, then fold the cream in and around them.

After that, gently fold in all but about 2 tablespoons of the purée to give a marbled effect. Finally, pile the whole lot into a serving dish, spoon the rest of the purée over the surface and serve as soon as possible.

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