Have I ever told you how much I love meringue? Especially those lovely individual meringues that are just barely sweet, crispy on the outside, and still a touch sticky in the middle – yumm!
My meringue love affair started during a year I spent living in Moscow, Russia. If my memory serves me, pretty much every bakery there carries individual, expertly cooked meringues, called beze in Russian. Of course, they make the perfect, slightly sweet accompaniment to a strong cup of Russian tea. I think I must have eaten a beze a day!
Fast forward a couple years (actually, a couple decades 😉 ), and I still love meringues – and anything made with meringue, for that matter. So imagine my delight when I discovered the oh-so-simple, meringue based dessert, Eton Mess.
This is a dessert from England, and the story goes that it originated at Eton College where it was served at the annual cricket match against the pupils of Harrow School. A lovely embellishment of the story says it was invented when a dog, specifically a Labrador, happened to sit on a strawberry pavlova during a match, crushing the meringue. The cricket players didn’t care a bit, and happily ate the crushed meringue and strawberries! Whatever the true story – it’s delicious!
Traditionally, Eton Mess is made with crumbled meringues, strawberries, and whipped cream – how can you go wrong with a combo like that! Today, Eton Mess has branched out from its original strawberries and cream roots, and you can find all varieties from apple and cinnamon, to caramel and nuts, to chocolate and cherry.
The video and recipe here are for the traditional variety of Eton Mess, but you can make it with any combination of crumbled meringue, fruit, and a sauce or cream. If you scroll down the page a bit, you’ll see a variation I came up with using a prepared lemon curd (which was delivered to my door from the fine folks at Try The World), crème anglaise, and pomegranate seeds. You can make yours with whatever your heart desires!
It’s a shame that here in the US, meringues aren’t particularly common. Fortunately, they are easy-peasy to make. I’ve included a basic recipe for you to try, but if you happen to have a source for good quality, store bought meringues, you could whip this dessert up in just a few minutes.