recipe: eton mess

no one ate the cute little meringues from the party, probably because they were store-bought, and readily available, unlike some of the other desserts. there's only one thing i know what do with leftover little meringues: eton mess.

the story goes that this dessert originated from some crazy picnic those scholarly lads from eton were having by the river; they were send down with punnets of strawberries, whipped cream, and meringues, but whoops someone tripped, and this luscious concoction was the result.


i don't know. to put it politely, it all sounds very dionysian--young boys cavorting 'round a bucolic river, playing games and frolicking whilst devouring ripe berries dipped in rich, heavy, dripping cream...OKAY OKAY STOP it sounds like soft porn, right? i mean, puh-lease!

i'm told they serve the classic recipe (strawberries macerated in port, cream, meringues) at awards day at eton, but never having met an alum, i wouldn't know.

i had some raspberries i had frozen from a previous experiment with nigella lawson's slut red raspberries in chardonnay jelly (what is it with these brits?), so i used those along with cointreau, an orange liqueur, as my steeping liquid of choice. fresh fruit is standard for this, but i find good frozen berries work just as well. experiment with steeping liquids, too--you can go non-alcoholic with fruit juices (oranges, clementines...mango?), or try kirsch or some lovely aquavit.

place raspberries in bowl and pour a generous amount of cointreau on top. smash about half the berries along the side, keeping the rest whole. whip any amount of cream in another bowl, but leave unsweetened, as even though the berries may not be sweet enough, the meringues certainly will be. crush meringues roughly, place in serving bowl. add the raspberries with a little of the liqueur, then gently fold the cream into the other ingredients; you are looking to create a 'ripple' or 'marbled' effect, not get some pinky mush. drizzle the rest of the steeping liquid over the top if desired.

i am a big fan of pavlovas, but often can't be bothered to bake the meringue base; this is similar, and almost as lovely.