Eton Mess

Berries, British, Desserts, Gluten-Free / Tuesday, July 26th, 2011

You’ve got to love a dessert that’s meant to be a mess.

When I was researching British desserts for our Harry Potter dessert table, I lucked up on Eton Mess, and even though it had nothing to do with Hagrid or Hermione, I had to try it.

This lovely, lazy dessert – traditionally served at the picnic following Eton College’s annual awards ceremony – is a simple but sublime riff on strawberries and cream. First, you chop and sweeten your strawberries (so less-than-peak ones will do). Then, you fold them into a pillow of vanilla whipped cream studded with crumbled vanilla meringue cookies, which add a little bit of crunch and extra sweetness.

It’s the sort of dessert you linger over. Scrumptious. Stunning. And you can whip it up in about five minutes flat.

Definitely a mess worth making.

Eton Mess

Adapted from Nigella Lawson’s “Nigella Express”

Feel free to swap the strawberries for chopped bananas or almost any other fruit.

Serves 4

  • 4 cups strawberries, hulled and chopped
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoons pomegranate juice or balsamic vinegar, to help the berries release their juices
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 meringue cookies, crumbled*
  1. Place the chopped strawberries, sugar and pomegranate juice in a bowl, and stir to combine. Set aside.
  2. Whip the cream and vanilla in a large bowl until thick but still soft. Roughly crumble in the meringue shells.
  3. To Serve Traditionally: Measure a half-cup of the chopped strawberries into a bowl, and set aside. Take the rest of the fruit mixture, and fold it into the meringue cream. Arrange on plates or in bowls or dessert glasses, and top each with some of the remaining macerated strawberries.
  4. To Serve as Parfaits: Layer the meringue cream and macerated strawberries in four tall glasses.

*Gluten-Free Tip: Make sure your meringue cookies are gluten-free.