Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Tastes like summer: Eton mess

Oooo yeh. Not only is this a very traditional English recipe that can (ingredient-wise) be pretty easily replicated anywhere, it is also simple yet DELISH and always tastes like a July afternoon outside with friends. 

First of all, the recipe relies on really good, homemade meringues. This is the only bit that takes any real time or effort.

You need:
An oven, preheated to 150c or 300f - you need to not be planning to use the oven for a few hours (and preferably overnight) as the meringues stay sitting in it to cool and to dry out on the outside, and this makes all the difference. 
 3 fresh eggs at room temperature
175g or 1 cup caster sugar

1. Separate the eggs and whisk the whites until they form soft peaks, then whisk in the sugar a bit at a time.
2. Cover a baking tray with greaseproof paper/baking parchment and put soup spoonfuls of the mixture, in well spaced rows out on the paper.
3. Turn the heat in the oven down to 270f or 140c, and put the meringues in for one hour. After that switch the oven off and leave the meringues in there at least until the oven is totally cold. If possible, leave them overnight. 

The next step is both easy and delicious. Just before you want to eat, break up the meringues, chop up 1lb/450g/3.75 cups strawberries and mix the two together. 
Then lightly whisk 1/2 pint (also known as 280ml or just over one cup) of double cream (also known as thickish table cream) until it is soft and peaky then fold that in, too.

Serve as soon as possible to keep the textures fresh and not soggy. YUM. 

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