Well, this dessert is exactly what it sounds like: a hot mess.
I had never heard of Eton Mess until learning it was our First on the First challenge for this month! Turns out it’s just a messy, easy, crowd-pleasing dessert full of strawberries, whipped cream, and meringue, a throw-together version of one of my favourite (gluten-free!) desserts, Strawberry Chocolate Meringue Torte.
Being slightly anal about things, I personally prefer the look of the elegant, round torte, but let’s face it, when you cut meringue you just get a crumbly mess anyway, so this dessert allows you to skip the step of watching your beautiful creation crumble under the knife.
A trifle dish or individual cups is the prettiest way to present this layered dessert, reminding me I need to get my hands on a trifle dish one of these days :) I love these flavours together, and this is a perfect fresh, light summer dessert – just make sure you assemble it very shortly before you plan to eat it or the meringue will lose it’s crunchy exterior, which contrasts perfectly with the creamy whipped cream and juicy strawberries. Perfect for strawberry season, yes?
How convenient that it happens to be red and white on Canada Day! Happy Canada Day to all my fellow Canadians!
I used the meringue recipe from my mini pavlovas, but any meringue cookie will do – I think it would be really great with these chocolate meringue cookies crumbled in there, since chocolate and strawberries are really meant for each other, and the cocoa cuts back the sweet factor just a bit. So yes, there will be a next time for this recipe! Check out the other Eton Messes from the rest of the group below :)
- 3 egg whites
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
- ¾ cup granulated sugar
- 500mL carton heavy/whipping cream
- ⅓ cup powdered sugar (aka confectioner's sugar or icing sugar)
- Pinch of salt
- 2 lb strawberries, washed and sliced
- Preheat oven to 275 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or foil (this is a necessity if you want to get your nests back off!)
- Place egg whites in a large bowl and let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes. (You can also just place your eggs in warm water for 5 minutes before separating if you don't feel like waiting).
- Add the vanilla and cream of tartar to the egg whites and beat on medium speed until soft peaks form.
- Beat in sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, on high, until stiff peaks form.
- Drop meringue into ten mounds onto prepared baking sheet. Shape into approximately 3″ cups with the back of a spoon, creating a dip in the middle (like a nest!). These will not spread much with baking so feel free to put them very close together.
- Bake at 275° for 45-55 minutes or until set and dry. Turn off oven and do NOT open door; leave meringues in oven for 1 more hour.
- Crumble into random pieces and store in airtight container in fridge or freezer until ready to assemble dessert.
- When ready to assemble, whip cream with icing sugar and pinch of salt until it holds soft peaks.
- In trifle dish, sundae glasses, or large bowl, layer whipped cream, meringue, and strawberries, doing two layers of each.
- Serve immediately and refrigerate leftovers.