Generally speaking, when food is referred to as a “mess,” I get a little worried. But this Eton mess is a delicious “mess.” A classic British dessert named after the famed Eton College, the Eton mess is a simple and delicious sweet treat and I make it less messy by layering rather than mixing everything together. Trust me, it’s delicious either way, but on this particular occasion, I’m going for something a little more elevated. This layered Eton mess is as much a lovely surprise for a weeknight dessert as it is appropriate for a more formal dining experience. Regardless of the occasion, I love it.
Ok, a homemade dessert doesn’t get much easier than this. It’s a combination of shortcuts and scratch-made, fresh, sweet, and creamy. My shortcut is to use store-bought meringue cookies and my scratch-made is to make fresh whipped cream. The rest is pretty basic!
The next super difficult step – and I say this with very little seriousness – is to cut the strawberries and toss them in a little bit of sugar and lemon juice. While I usually use just sugar alone to macerate strawberries, the lemon juice will add a tartness and, dare I say, a vibrance to the flavor of the berries.
Store-bought meringues are a great shortcut, and they’re readily available at the grocery store. I do like to make the meringue, but here, it’s not necessary. I crush the meringues, but not to a powder; I still want to have some chunks there for texture. All of this comes together very quickly, making it an ideal make-ahead dessert.
To put this all together, I’ve chosen a clear glass so that I can show off the layers that I’ll build, with fresh whipped cream, a layer of crushed meringue, and then the macerated strawberries. It’s the layering that makes this version of an Eton mess look so special. And there you have it! An Eton mess, one mess that I will certainly enjoy cleaning up.
5m prep time
- 2 cups strawberries, quartered
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- ½ lemon, juiced
- 1 ½ cups heavy whipping cream
- 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Meringue cookies, broken into chunks
- Toss the strawberries with lemon juice and granulated sugar. Refrigerate the sugared strawberries for 20-30 minutes.
- Beat the heavy cream, adding the powdered sugar and vanilla extract. Continue to beat until the cream begins to stiffen, just to the point of becoming stiff peaks.
- Choose a serving dish that is clear so that the layers of the Eton mess are visible. Build the layers of the Eton mess by first adding a heaping spoonful of whipped cream to the bottom of the cup. Next, a spoonful of the crushed meringue followed by a spoonful of strawberries. Repeat this layering a second time.
- Refrigerate if serving later. These may be made 1-2 hours in advance, but not sooner as too long will make the meringue soggy.
Recipe adapted from Confessions of a Baking Queen.