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How to Make Eton Mess and the Best Berries and Cream Spring Dessert


It’s nearly strawberry season and strawberries and whipped cream remind me of my childhood in Italy. During the first week of June, my parents would take us to the sagra delle fragole (strawberry festival) in the small town of Nemi, Italy.Nemi was a short ride away from Rome and walking around the carless winding streets of the town away from the congested capital, was always a welcome treat. I remember the wild strawberries were small, juicy and super sweet. They were served as is, or with a dollop of panna fresca (freshly whipped cream) and nothing else. Simplified perfection. Eton Mess, a British dessert, delivers the same taste impact and is the ideal no-fuss refreshing spring/summer dessert. Whipped cream, marinated strawberries and a handful of meringues are all that is needed to make this super simple dessert. I always add a fresh strawberry or blueberry coulis to my eton mess but the recipe can be made without. Alternatively, you can just puree some of the marinated strawberries and use that to make colorful ribbons of deliciousness with the cream. I always have a box of good meringues in the house and have made eton mess as an ad hoc dessert for unexpected guests or even as a breakfast treat to entice my children to eat more fruit. It’s such a flexible dessert that you can use other berries instead of strawberries or equally delicious is a mix of berries. Play around with the amount of sugar in the cream and marinated strawberries or, simply go Italian ‘Nemi’ style and rely on the sweetness of the meringues only, either way Eton Mess is universally loved! As usual, use organic when possible.

Eton Mess

Serves 4-6

Prep Level: Easy

Ingredients:

1 pint (473ml) of heavy whipping cream + 1 tablespoon powdered sugar

2 pounds of fresh strawberries/blueberries/raspberries

¼ cup water

3 tablespoons sugar

2 tablespoons lemon juice

3 oz (about 100 grams or 4-6 large store-bought) meringues

How To:

In a medium-sized glass bowl, add the cream and sugar and whip. Cover the cream and refrigerate when ready to use. Divide the strawberries in half. In a small bowl, cut half the strawberries into quarter sized pieces, add 1 tablespoon sugar and the lemon juice, cover and let marinate in the fridge for 2 hours. Place the rest of the strawberries in a small pot, the rest of the sugar and water. Cook on low heat uncovered and stirring occasionally for 10 minutes. When the strawberries have cooled down a bit, puree them in a mini food processor and refrigerate till needed. Use whatever small dessert dish you have (or glasses) and start with a heaping tablespoon of cream followed by some strawberries, fruit puree and crumbled up meringue (about 1 crumbled meringue per person) and repeat the process. You can take a knife and swirl everything or leave as is. Alternatively, mix everything in the bowl of whipped cream, swirl/fold everything and divide into the dessert plates. The meringues will become soft and melt, so serve Eton Mess only when ready to eat!

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