My husband and son returned from a once in a lifetime trip to Ireland recently, full of stories of castles and falcons, Guinness and rain. They witnessed women spinning wool from the sheep inside their sheds, flew drones over ancient ruins, and met the brother of Harry Potter's owl Hedwig. Aside from these moments, they couldn't wait to show me photos of their favorite dessert on the trip: the Eton Mess. Like so many recipes, this one gets its humble start from leftovers (think: bread pudding, panzanella). Rumor is it was first served in the dining room at Eton College, an English boarding school. Some intrepid cook put together the extra meringues, some fruit and cream and mixed it all together, serving to growing boys 13-18. I imagine in a drafty stone school, far from home, this was an instant hit, just as it was with my boys far from their home.
It's amazing how simple it is while still being ridiculously delicious. I'm serving it here in a coupe glass, but don't be put off. This is a dessert that can be dressed up for guests or eaten out of your favorite cereal bowl. It's light and sweet, but not too sweet. The meringues provide just the right amount of crunch though to make this addictive. And the macerated strawberries say Spring is Here to me!
This is my contribution to a seasonal collaboration with dozens of other food bloggers & Instagrammers that I've been participating in since last summer. Check out the hashtag #strawberriesarethejam. I have listed many of the participants below. You'll be overwhelmed with inspiration by their posts.
4 Meringue Shells
1 Pint Whipping Cream
1 tsp Sugar
2 lbs fresh Strawberries
1/2 -3/4 C. Sugar (depending on sweetness preference)
1 TBSP Lemon Juice
4 chocolate wafer cookies, or other chocolate bakery cookies, crushed
Add 2/3 of the strawberries, trimmed and quartered, sugar and lemon juice into a medium heavy pot over medium heat. Stir to combine and allow the strawberries to become soft and syrupy, but still holding their form. Completely cool in the refrigerator. Congratulations, you have macerated the berries.
Chop the remaining strawberries into bite size pieces and keep cool till ready to assemble the dessert.
When you are ready for dessert, add the meringue shells to a medium to large bowl.
Using your hands, break them into nickel and quarter sized pieces.
Whip the cream into soft peaks, adding the little bit of sugar at the end of the beating. Add to the meringue pieces.
Mix the Whipped Cream and Meringues together.
Fold in the macerated strawberries, swirling but not mixing it all together. You want streaks, but not pink whipped cream...Unless you do. You don't have to use all of the strawberry sauce. You can pour that over ice cream or on toast tomorrow if you don't use it all now.
Add the fresh chopped strawberries. Turn over once more.
Gently distribute between your serving plates, bowls or glasses. Garnish with one whole strawberry and top with a sprinkle of Cookie Crumbs
Eat with glee!
For more #strawberriesarethejam inspiration: