Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Eton Mess

Wikipedia's definition of Eton Mess is a traditional English dessert consisting of a mixture of strawberries, pieces of meringue, and cream. It is often served at Eton  College's annual cricket match against the students of Winchester College.

My definition of Eton Mess is a delectable English treat that consists of delicious, fluffy, marshmallowy clouds stacked on sweet, light, feathery snowflakes and intertwined with juicy, red strawberries that desire to be enjoyed with a magical harp playing softly while cherubs with the face of John Krasinski dance half naked around me, throwing rose petals, sunbeams, and sprinkled covered wishes my way.

This is seriously good stuff and the perfect dessert on a summer day. Although there is some debate as to whether a banana or strawberry should be used (apparently the creator of this dish used bananas as the fruit of choice), I decided to go with the strawberries and throw in a blueberry sauce. 

I'm such a rebel.

Adapted from The Joy of Baking

3 egg whites at room temperature
¾ cup superfine sugar (if you don't have superfine sugar, simply take granulated white sugar and process it for about 30-60 seconds in a food processor)
¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
¼ teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 200ยบ F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Beat egg whites with mixer until foamy. Add the cream of tartar and continue to beat the whites until they hold soft peaks. Add sugar, a little at a time, and continue to beat until the meringue holds very stiff peaks. Beat in the vanilla extract.  

Note: The meringue is done when it holds stiff peaks and when you rub a little between your thumb and index finger it does not feel gritty. If it feels gritty the sugar has not fully dissolved so keep beating until it feels smooth between your fingers.

Transfer the meringue to a pastry bag. I used a ziploc bag and a star tip to pretty it up a bit, but you don't need a bag or tip at all; you can use 2 spoons. Dollop onto prepared sheets. 

Bake the meringues for approximately 1½ to 1¾ hours, rotating the baking sheet from front to back (about half way through) to ensure even baking. The meringues are done when they are pale in color and fairly crisp. (The meringues will release easily from the parchment paper.)

Leave the meringues in the oven with door cracked to finish drying several hours or overnight. They can be covered and stored at room temperature for several days. 
Blueberry Sauce:

A pint of blueberries
3 tablespoons sugar
½ cup water
2 tablespoons orange juice

Place ingredients over stove and bring to a boil for about 7 minutes. Allow to cool for a few minutes. Be sure to de-stem and take out any wonky blueberries before placing on stove.

To assemble:
Start with a few meringues at the bottom of dish you will be using and begin the layering process of meringue, fruit, whipped cream, and blueberry sauce. Serve immediately.

Enjoy and Happy Baking!