The Cookbook

A collection of favorite recipes

Eton Mess

Posted by Sylvia on 27th July 2008

Eton mess is a dessert of English origin consisting of a mixture of strawberries, pieces of meringue and cream, which is traditionally served at Eton College’s annual prize-giving celebration picnic on the “Fourth of June” (actually celebrated on the last Wednesday in May). One anecdotal story is that the dessert was invented when a Labrador accidentally sat on a picnic basket in the back of a car on the way to a picnic. According to Recipes from the Dairy (1995) by Robin Weir, who spoke to Eton College’s librarian, Eton mess was served in the 1930s in the school’s “sock shop” (tuck shop), and was originally made with either strawberries or bananas mixed with ice-cream or cream. Meringue was a later addition, and may have been an innovation by Michael Smith, the author of Fine English Cookery (1973). An Eton mess can be made with many other types of summer fruit, but strawberries are regarded as more traditional.

From Wikipedia’s entry on Eton Mess

When we had left over meringue from Connor’s fourteenth birthday cake (meringue disks sandwiching vanilla ice cream and lemon curd), Yvonne immediately volunteered to make Eton mess. We bought the last of the Spanish strawberries and some whipping cream and she dragged Connor into the kitchen to make it.

We had it at dinner time and everyone had a healthy portion. The next day Yvonne wrote down the details for me.

Eton Mess

Fresh strawberries – at least 1 pound
Double cream – at least 1 pint
Meringue – you can cheat and use ready made ones.

Wash and hull the strawberries. Chop about half of them into quarters (or smaller if very large fruit).

Puree the rest in a blender, then pass through a fine sieve or muslin to remove pulp and pips.

Whip the cream until it’s fairly firm (just beyond the soft peak stage).

Break the meringue into smallish pieces and fold through the cream.

Fold the chopped fruit into the cream mixture.

Gently fold some of the sauce into the mixture to give a marbled affect.

Place in the fridge for about an hour before serving, although you can serve immediately. (Note from Sylvia: Cliff said this was even better the second day)

Pour the rest of the sauce over the top prior to serving. Serve in either individual pretty dishes or martini glasses for more effect.

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