Our easy Eton mess, a delicious Summer dessert, with berries and meringue. One of the easiest desserts to make, serve it in a jar and head out on a picnic.
Eton mess is one of the easiest desserts you will ever make. Using the best of the sweet Summer strawberries, and in this particular recipe, raspberries, this light dessert can be made in no time at all. It’s far less cooking, more of an assembly job, using simple and tasty ingredients. Furthermore, most of the elements can be store bought.
Anytime I make Eton Mess I always think of Michelle and have a giggle. This is a quintessentially British dessert and being Canadian Michelle had never heard of it until coming to the UK. We were talking about this dessert and I noticed she called it “Eating Mess”. She honestly thought that was what it was called. Now to be fair this particular dessert does look like a mushed up mess. I explained that it had originated at Eton College, hence the name. We have laughed about this ever since, and now we always call it “Eating Mess”, just not when anyone else is around and would think us idiots!
Where does the recipe for Eton Mess originate?
Eton Mess is believed to originate from Eton College, England, where it has been served at the annual cricket match between the pupils of Eton College and Harrow School.
Eton mess is an English dessert, traditionally made using fresh cut strawberries, strawberry puree, crushed meringues and thick, whipped cream.
It is made using the same ingredients as a strawberry pavlova, only this version is all messed up! I have often wondered if that’s how it came about, somebody dropped the pavlova then scooped it up into a bowl and served it anyway?
I have made a small addition to this Eton Mess and added raspberries to the mix. We are very lucky as we have such great raspberries growing locally here in the North East of Scotland. Indeed in the past I have used blueberries and blackberries too. In fact I use whatever berries I have to hand as I like to add a mix of berries.
Scottish soft fruits:
Scottish soft fruits are well known for their taste and sweetness. We are very lucky to live in an area where the best of these fruits are available to us right on our doorstep. If you can get your hands on Scottish berries we do recommend using them, they are truly delicious.
A combination of the soil and climate (and some highly experienced growers) means that Scottish berries are sought by many in the food trade. I look forward to berry season every year and there is no greater joy than picking up a box of local berries. Although if my children are in the car with me I need to ensure there’s an extra box to devour on the short trip home!
In fact our berries are so good that I rarely eat strawberries or raspberries out of season. Imported berries lack any taste and most often are a disappointment. I prefer to eat these delicious berries when they are in season and at their sweet, fragrant best!
Perfect for picnics:
I like to picnic all year round and packing a sweet treat is high on my list. In the Winter months it’s often a Chocolate & Pecan Brownie. However, in the Summer I like to pack a proper pudding, like a chocolate or lemon mousse; a pannacotta; or this Eton Mess.
I like to layer these simple desserts into jam jars, popping the lid on and packing them into my cool bag. If you’ve not got too far to travel they are an ideal treat and never fail to put a smile on everyone’s face. However, should they tip over, don’t fret. After all, as the name suggests, these desserts look messy to start with!
This recipe fits into 4 jam medium sized jam jars, or 6 smaller jars if feeding more people. Perfect sized sweet treats.
Keep things simple:
The whole point in a quick dessert is that you keep things simple. Do not go making your own meringues if you don’t have time, I don’t. Instead, I buy a pack of good quality, ready made meringue nests from the Supermarket and these work just fine.
In fact I prefer to use shop bought meringues in this dessert as they are harder in texture than homemade. I find homemade meringues lighter and therefore they have a tendency to dissolve into the cream. Whereas, the harder shop bought meringues keep their shape, even when crushed up, bringing a much needed crunch to this soft, creamy dessert.
This recipe asks for double cream, however, it’s worth mentioning that whipping cream will do the same job.
How to make a simple berry puree?
This recipe uses a berry puree or sauce to layer up the dessert. I find that a shop bought puree or coulis works just fine for this. However, it’s also very simple to make a berry puree!
Using a stick blender blitz up some extra berries then pass the liquid through a fine sieve. Check for sweetness, I find that berries don’t need any sugar added. However, if the puree is on the sour side, add a little icing sugar and mix through.
Bear in mind however, that the whole point of any picnic is not to spend hours preparing food, but to get out into the great outdoors enjoying the sunshine.
Can I make this dessert ahead of time?
Eton mess is a dessert that needs to be made and eaten the same day. If left overnight the cream has a tendency to split and the meringues will turn to pure sugar and melt through the cream.
Great gluten free dessert!
This recipe is one of my go-to recipes when feeding family and friends who are Coeliac. Meringues are great for anyone following a gluten free diet.
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Easy Eton Mess
- 300 g double cream
- 4 meringue nests – crushed
- 200 g strawberries – hulled and sliced
- 200 g raspberries
- 180 ml berry puree or sauce
- In a large bowl, whisk the double cream to form stiff peaks.
- Add the crushed meringues, sliced strawberries and raspberries to the cream and gently fold through.
- Next layer the ingredients into either serving dishes, or jam jars if you are planning a picnic. First spoon in some cream, then pour over a drizzle of berry puree. Repeat this process another couple of times so that you have nice layers of both the cream mixture and the berry sauce.
- Once finished either cover and place the dishes in the fridge. Alternatively if filling jam jars, pop on the lid, place in your cool bag and head out for your picnic.
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