This quick and easy traditional English dessert is made from a mixture of whipped cream, strawberries, and meringue – either layered as a trifle or mixed together into a delicious mess.
Until just recently, meringues haven’t exactly been my cup of tea since they were too sweet for my taste as a standalone dessert. Every time I get a box of meringues as a gift (it’s quite a thing around here), I break them into pieces, and serve them (mostly to myself) with some strawberries and whipped cream. I had been doing this long before I had even heard of Eton mess because it just felt like the perfect combination. Apparently they thought the same thing back in the 1930s, when this dessert originated at the famous Eton school in England.
Sometimes, if I plan to make the dessert ahead of time, I’ll prepare my homemade meringues from scratch. But when I want to whip up a quick dessert for guests that are about to arrive, I’ll just go (i.e., send Erez) to my favorite bakery near my house and buy their beautiful meringues instead.
You can either serve this dessert in individual serving dishes or glasses, or in one large trifle bowl for anyone to take as much as they want. Just make sure that, in the case of the latter, you don’t invite me to your party. “As much as I want” usually means all of it.
You have two options in assembling this dessert. The first is to layer the ingredients, placing strawberries, broken meringue pieces, and whipped cream one on top of the other, then repeat the layering once more. The other option is to make it the more traditional way, which is folding the pieces of strawberry and meringue into the whipped cream. I already told you about the ‘Eton’ part of the name, so now you get the ‘mess’ part, too.
This dessert needs to be put together close to serving time, when the meringues are still crispy. You can prepare each of the dessert components in advance: whipping the cream, cutting the strawberries, and breaking the meringues. Store the whipped cream and strawberries in the fridge until you’re ready to use them. Once ready to serve, simply mix all of it together.
If you prefer adding more meringues or strawberries (or less, but… really?), then you are welcome to do so. You know I’ll be the last person to stop you.
If you want, you can make a simple strawberry sauce by processing about 150g of additional strawberries in a food processor with a bit of powdered sugar until pureed. Then, either mix it with the strawberries, swirl it into the cream, or pour it on top of the dish.
To dress up this dessert, I top each serving dish with freshly sliced strawberries, meringue pieces, or mini meringue kisses.
- 500g (3-4 cups) fresh strawberries
- ¼ cup (50g) granulated sugar, divided
- 100g store-bought or homemade meringues
- 2 cups (480ml) heavy whipping cream, chilled
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- Cut the strawberries into bite-size pieces, then place in a small bowl and toss with 2 tablespoons sugar.
- Break the meringues into different sizes for texture – large chunks, bite-size pieces, and dust.
- For the whipped cream: In a mixer bowl fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk together cream, vanilla, and 2 tablespoons sugar until soft peaks form. Avoid overbeating.
- To serve, choose one of the following options:
- Layer meringues, strawberries, and cream in a large trifle bowl or 4-6 individual serving dishes.
- Gently fold strawberries and meringues into the whipped cream and place mixture in serving dishes. Serve immediately.