Spring 2022

Easy Eton Mess Recipe

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Eton with Pack


175g Egg whites

350g Caster Sugar

1 tbsp Lemon juice

Pink food colouring, optional

200g Strawberries, sliced into halves or quarters

250g Strawberry coulis or jam

600ml Double cream

50g Icing sugar

Pinch of Maldon Salt

1 tbsp Vanilla bean paste

Edible Gold leaf, optional

Edible Flowers, optional


What is Eton Mess?

Eton Mess is a classic British dessert, consisting of meringue, whipped cream, and fresh strawberries or strawberry sauce. The elements are layered and served together before resembling a delicious ‘mess recipe’. This dessert is ideal for serving when strawberries are in season in the UK (April – July) and is typically known for being a relatively easy dessert to make for your dinner guests.

Eton Mess origin

The classic Eton Mess supposed origin dates back to 1893 from Eton College. This is where a decadent strawberry pavlova was made to celebrate a cricket match against the opposing Harrow School. However, it’s believed there was an accident and the pudding was crushed! However, the students didn’t care about the mess that was made, and thus the famed ‘Eton Mess’ was born from that day onwards.

Conversely, the first written mention of an Eton Mess was found in 1893 when Queen Victoria has attended a party for her eldest son, and was served a dish called Eton Mess aux fraises which translates to ‘Eton Mess of strawberries‘.

How to make Eton Mess

  1. Preheat the oven to 100C.
  2. Begin by making the meringues. Add the egg whites to the bowl of a stand mixer and turn the whisk attachment on to high. Whip the egg whites until they form stiff peaks and then turn the speed down to medium-low. Slowly add the caster sugar, a teaspoon at a time, allowing each addition to be properly incorporated before adding the next. You can also add a few drops of vanilla extract for a gentle sweetness. You need to make sure the caster sugar is dissolved after each addition. The best way to check this is by rubbing a little bit of the meringue between your thumb and forefinger. The mixture should feel smooth and not grainy. If it is still grainy then continue to whisk until smooth and all the sugar has been added.
  3. The meringue should now form stiff peaks, be voluminous, and glossy. Add the tablespoon of lemon juice and whisk again to incorporate. The lemon juice helps to stabilise the meringue.
  4. Alternatively, you can buy store brought meringue from various UK supermarkets, however homemade meringue tastes much better and fresher!
  5. Once you have made your meringues, line two large baking sheets with baking sheets or parchment paper, and use a little of the meringue mixture on the corner of the baking sheets to stick it to the pan / tray. With our recipe we have chosen to bake some large meringues to crumble throughout the Eton Mess but also some smaller, meringue kisses to decorate the top – but this is optional.
  6. To make the pink and white meringue kisses, use a a piping bag with a small nozzle attached, then paint pink gel food colouring up the inside of the piping bag with a food safe brush. Then, simply spoon some meringue mixture into the piping bag and pipe small kisses onto the baking tray. These small kisses take roughly 45 minutes to bake.
  7. With the larger meringues, you can simply spoon these straight onto the baking sheet. We left some of ours white. Then with the remaining meringue mixture we marbled some pink through by folding pink food colouring through, stopping before it was fully mixed. Then we spooned this onto the baking sheet in the same way. These larger meringues take approximately 1 hour to bake. The best way to tell if the meringue is baked is if they lift very easily off the baking sheet or parchment paper.
  8. Once all the meringues are baked, remove from the oven, and allow to cool. Once the meringues are cooled you can assemble the Eton Mess. Lightly crush the large meringues and leave the kisses to garnish.
  9. Pour the double cream into a clean bowl and add the icing sugar. Use an electric whisk to beat this to soft peaks. You can whisk this by hand, it just takes longer and a little more elbow grease! Finally add the vanilla extract (or vanilla bean paste), and Maldon Sea Salt flakes before folding through gently. Adding Maldon Sea Salt is both a delicious and vital element as it helps cut through the sweetness of the dessert and enhances the flavours of the strawberries and vanilla.
  10. In a large trifle dish, you want to start layering up – there is no correct way to do this, hence why it’s named a ‘Mess‘. Simply alternate between layering the softly whipped cream, strawberries, crushed meringues pieces, and strawberry sauce. If you want to make your own sauce, try our delicious homemade fig jam that works perfectly with the sweetness of the meringue. Finish the top of the layers with some soft peaks of the whipped cream.
  11. Finally, garnish with the meringue kisses (we decorated ours with little flecks of gold leaf), strawberry halves and edible flowers. Serve immediately.

Can you freeze Eton Mess?

Yes, you can freeze Eton Mess! Make sure you store the Eton Mess in an air-tight container before placing in the freezer. You can freeze for up to 1 month.

However, you must be very careful when defrosting Eton Mess as you do not want the dessert to absorb any moisture as this will soften the outside the meringue, ruining it’s delicious crispness! To thaw or defrost the pudding, remove from the air-tight container and put it onto a wire rack. It shouldn’t take more than one hour to completely thaw and should be consumed immediately after!

How long does Eton mess keep in the fridge?

Although Eton Mess is best served immediately after assembling, we recommend storing the dessert in the fridge for up to 2 days. After the second day, the meringue will start to soften and the fresh strawberries will start to go squishy and unpleasant.

How far in advance can you make Eton Mess?

You can certainly make a Eton Mess in advance! For example, the cream can be whipped an hour earlier and stored in the fridge. Additionally, if you made your own strawberry sauce or coulis instead of store bought, then making the sauce from scratch can be made up to two days in advance, ensuring it’s covered in the fridge!

What is the difference between Eton Mess and Pavlova?

Although both puddings have a meringue base, whipped cream and topped with fruits or a sweet sauce, the main difference between an Eton Mess and pavlova is how they are presented. Eton Mess is assembled in a way that resembles a ‘mess‘ (pun intended!). It has broken pieces of meringue, folded up or mixed altogether before being presented in a glass. In contrast, a pavlova is an unbroken meringue, topped gently with whipped cream and fresh fruits.

What is the origin of the Pavlova?

The meringue-based dessert originates from either Australia or New Zealand in the early 20th century, with the two countries still debating to this day where it’s true origin came from. The name ‘pavlova’ derives from the Russian ballet dancer Anna Pavlova, who toured in Australia in the 1920s, in which the country is believed to have celebrated her through patisserie. However, Helen Leach of the University of Otago revealed a paper stating the a recipe for pavlova appeared in New Zealand in 1929.

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