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Eton Mess, a Classic British Summer Dessert

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Traditional British Eton Mess

Eton Mess is an all-time classic British dessert and an Eton Mess recipe must be included in any list of strawberry recipes. The dish was traditionally served at Eton College but how it came to have the name is not clear. One story is a Labrador dog sat on a picnic basket in the back of a car and squashed a strawberry and meringue dessert.  It was thought the "mess" was really, rather delicious and the name stuck. Even if this is not true, it is a sweet story.

 

The dessert is quick and easy to make and makes great use of ripe strawberries at the height of summer when they are plentiful. Frozen or tinned strawberries simple do not work. It is the freshness and scent of summer ripened fruits which make this dessert so special.

The traditional Eton Mess is made with strawberries, but it is possible to use other fruits Rhubarb Mess is a great example, raspberries also work well but be careful not to squash them too much. To ring the changes you can also change the cream ,  to a flavoured one.

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 15 minutes

Yield: Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 300 ml / 10 ½ fl oz whipping cream
  • 1 tbsp caster / fine sugar
  • 100g / 3 ½ oz ready-made meringue
  • 450g / 1 lb fresh strawberries
  • 1 tbsp icing / confectioners sugar

Preparation:

Method
  • Place the whipping cream in a large mixing bowl, add the sugar and whip with an electric whisk until the cream is light and fluffy. Do not over whip - the success of the dish requires softly whipped cream. The peaks should stand up with the tips gently falling over for the correct consistency.
  • Break the meringue into large bite-size chucks and gently stir into the cream. Don't worry if some of the meringue crumbles just add this too; it will melt into the cream (yum).
  • Place half of the strawberries into another large mixing bowl and press gently with the back of a fork to break up the strawberries slightly and release some of the juice. Do not be too heavy handed with the squashing, you do not want a puree.  Stir the strawberries gently into the cream.
  • Halve, then quarter the remaining strawberries.
  • Place the cream mixture into a 18 cm /7" trifle or glass serving dish, top with the strawberry pieces, chill for 30 minutes in the refrigerator and sprinkle with the icing / confectioners sugar before serving. Alternately serve in individual size dessert bowl or glasses. With this dessert there is little need to serve anything else alongside, it is delicious as it is. 
  • Eton Mess should be eaten on the day it is made, if it is stored the meringues start to go soft fairly quickly. 


For home made meringue follow this  step-by-step guide from About.com Low Fat Sitehttp://lowfatcooking.about.com/od/dessert/ss/meringue.htm

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