Friday, 14 August 2015

Cheap thrills: Eton mess...

Eton mess or mashed up pavlova with extra cream, take your pick. It's tasty and simple, but it does need to be made in advance - at least 3 hours (!!) before you expect to eat it. 

Coming straight out of River Cottage Every Day, although altered somewhat because of Jimmy and taste testing, the Eton mess has been staring at me every time I flip through the fruit section, tempting me with visions of cream and raspberries and summer garden parties or high tea. So, with raspberries dropping to $1 a punnet (and strawberries $3/punnet), I figured it was time to act before berry season ended.

What you need to serve 6, and roughly what I ended up making:
  • 2 egg whites worth of meringue, dolloped onto clean baking trays lined with baking paper and cooked at a low temperature (say, 120 C or a little less) for about 2 hours (although mine only needed an hour and a half.
  • 1.5 punnets of raspberries and about 1 punnet of strawberries, washed, with the strawberries trimmed and halved - but you'll need a swift hand if you have the sort of kitchen helper I had. Combine the fruit in a bowl, add a tablespoon (or two) of sugar, mix by hand so that you can mash the fruit a little as you go. Place in the fridge for about 2 hours or until needed.
  • Cream. The heavy, made for whipping kind, lightly whipped with nothing added. I used the suggested 350 ml, but it was a bit much because I forgot to allow for Jimmy's fruit consumption and all the meringues we just had to taste...

Other fruit combinations to try are:
  • kiwifruit and strawberry
  • peaches and nectarines (raw or baked so that they are a little caramelised)
  • mango (possibly with banana, or peach).

About an hour before serving, break up the meringues and mix with the cream. Mix in the fruit, so that it is covered with the cream but stop before the cream is completely drenched in fruit juices. Cover and set aside (in the fridge if it is summer) until ready to serve. Eat that night.

Definitely toddler approved: simple enough for them to help in the prep; easy and tasty enough for them to gobble down. That said, Jimmy was more interested in the raspberries and strawberries than the cream or his prune (which was an afterthought), and he was more interested in finishing and having a bath than the meringue.

Michael and I may have had two helpings... which seemed a good idea, because the fruit and meringue are really light, but the cream makes it a little heavier and I was feeling very full. Oh I will be making this again, especially as it is really similar to pavlova in taste but so much quicker (and forgiving) in the preparation. Eton mess for the win.

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