Every year on June 4th, Eton College, the private British high school for boys, serves something called Eton Mess. Eton Mess is a strawberry-and-whipped-cream dessert. It also includes meringues, broken up into the mix. Perhaps this is why they call it a “mess”.
If you’re not familiar with Eton College, you should be — at least, if you are an Anglophile.
Which I am. My favorite TV show of all time is Absolutely Fabulous, but of course I was raised on Monty Python. One of the funniest movies I’ve ever seen is Withnail & I. One of the funniest books I ever read was Bridget Jones. But my favorite author is, hands down, William Shakespeare.
But back to Eton. Ian Fleming, author of the James Bond series, attended Eton, as did Prince William and Prince Harry. Eton also spawned nineteen British Prime Ministers. Shakespeare in Love was also partially filmed at Eton.
I just had my first strawberries erupt in the backyard last week. The timing is perfect.
Time to celebrate Eton, celebrate England, and celebrate perfect spring strawberries, whilst enjoying a delicious and very traditional (not to mention healthy) British pudding.
If you are on the GAPS or SCD diet, use date sugar for the sweetener and coconut milk instead of heavy cream. The date sugar will make the cream tan-colored instead of white, and the coconut milk won’t get quite as airy as the heavy cream, but it will still be delicious.
Palm or maple sugar — or substitute date sugar (1/2 cup + 1 TBS)
Eggs, ideally pastured, or free-range organic (3)
Strawberries, organic (1 pound)
Heavy cream, grass-fed, organic, raw if possible — or substitute coconut milk (1 pint)
Silpat or parchment paper
Food processor or blender
Cheesecloth or fine mesh strainer
Wire whisk or electric mixer
1. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.
2. Put the sugar in a food processor or clean coffee grinder and grind until it becomes a fine powder.
3. Place 1 tablespoon of the sugar in a bowl and set aside. Take the other 1/2 cup sugar and set it in another bowl.
4. Crack the eggs and separate the yolks from the whites. Place the whites in a large bowl (or use a stand mixer) and whisk until they form soft peaks.
5. From the bowl that has the 1/2 cup sugar in it, add about one tablespoon at a time, and continue to whisk until all of the sugar has been thoroughly whisked in.
6. Line the baking tray with a Silpat mat or parchment paper.
7. Take rounded teaspoonfuls of the mixture and place them in rows on the baking tray. Place the tray in the oven on the middle shelf, turn the heat down to 275 degrees F and let the meringues bake for 1 hour.
8. Turn the oven off and leave the meringues in the oven to dry out overnight, or until the oven is completely cold.
9. When you are ready to make the pudding, rinse and dry the strawberries. Set aside half of the strawberries in a bowl.
10. Take the other half of the strawberries, remove the stems, and place in a food processor or blender with the remaining 1 tablespoon of powdered sugar.
11. Blend to a puree, then pass strawberries through a cheesecloth or fine mesh strainer.
12. Chop the remaining strawberries coarsely and set aside.
13. Whip the cream with a wire whisk or electric mixer until soft peaks form.
14. Break the meringues into roughly 1-inch pieces, place them in a large mixing bowl, add the chopped strawberries, then fold in the whipped cream.
15. Next, gently fold in the strawberry puree, reserving 2 tablespoons, to give a marbled effect.
16. Divide the mixture among 6 serving bowls, or better yet, wine, martini, or margarita glasses. Spoon the rest of the strawberry puree over the surface of each and serve immediately.
Photo credit: tom_bennett on Flickr