A Five Minute Dessert – Raspberry Eton Mess:
Proper cooks would make their own meringues, but I seldom make dessert and when I do I generally want something I can put together really quickly. While home made meringues can be wonderful, they take two to three hours to ‘cook’. Personally I’m quite happy with the shop bought version in this recipe; broken up with a lot of cream, fresh fruit, and if you are feeling wicked a spoonful or so of liqueur or brandy I really can’t tell the difference. Most of the major supermarkets sell packs of ready-made meringues and, if you are lucky, you might even pick up a broken pack – perfect for making Eton Mess because you are going to break the meringue up anyway.
There are a couple of legends about the origin of Eton Mess. One, that a frisky labrador sat on the picnic basket of some of the spectators during the annual cricket match at the college. The strawberry pavlova looked ruined, but spooned out into dessert bowls tasted great. A second legend is that one of the cooks tripped on her way to serve dessert at the college. Once again the broken pavlova was served up – and nicknamed Eton Mess.
However Eton Mess originated, it’s a lovely, simple to put together dessert with infinite variations. Most commonly made with strawberries, I prefer the tartness of raspberries and in any case I have rather a bad allergy to strawberries.
If your preference is for strawberries, I’d suggest garnishing the dessert with a few sprigs of basil. But really it’s all about personal taste.
Don’t try making this too much in advance, it’s best put together at the last minute. If you are entertaining and want to keep time in the kitchen to a minimum, just prepare everything up to mixing the ingredients together.