Why It Works

  • Briefly macerating the strawberries with sugar attracts out the fruit’s juices, leading to extra flavorful fruit layers.
  • Lemon juice and zest add a pop of acidity to offset the sweetness of the cream and meringue.

In July 2013, cooks in London created what was supposedly the world’s largest Eton mess, the traditional British dessert of berries, whipped cream, and meringue. Assembled and served from an unlimited martini glass, the confection weighed a whopping 368 kilos. To serve the dessert to 2,000 hungry passersby, a chef perched on a ladder, scooping out parts of the dessert little by little till there was none left. Had I been there, they most certainly would have served just one particular person: me.

Okay, it might be a little bit of an exaggeration to say that I may single handedly sort out an Eton mess of that measurement. However it actually is my favourite solution to take pleasure in candy summer season berries. And with heaps of whipped cream, ripe berries (usually strawberries, however some iterations embody raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries), and crisp meringues which can be simply starting to melt, it’s every thing you need in a lightweight summer season dessert. It’s straightforward to assemble, and even simpler to eat—and no one in my husband’s British household can cease at only one serving.

Critical Eats/Amanda Suarez


In keeping with food author Helen Saberi, writing in The Oxford Companion to Sweets, the dessert was first talked about in historian Arthur Beavan’s 1896 guide Marlborough Home and Its Occupants. In a chapter detailing “notable balls, fêtes, and backyard events” on the royal residence, he notes that “Eton Mess aux Fraises,” or Eton mess with strawberries, was served at an 1893 backyard social gathering that Queen Victoria attended. Many, nonetheless, attribute the creation of the dessert to Eton Faculty, the luxurious boys’ college in Windsor, England. There are iterations of Eton mess all through the nation, and Saberi mentions {that a} model with bananas—referred to as Lancing mess—is served at Lancing Faculty in Sussex. 

Although strawberries are historically used to make the dessert, I’ve seen it served with an assortment of berries. What berries you incorporate and the way you assemble the dessert is fully as much as you; some smush every thing—the whipped cream, meringues, and berries—collectively in a bowl, then spoon it into particular person bowls to serve. Others rigorously layer the elements to create a parfait of some type.

Right here, I go for a mix of raspberries and strawberries; some recipes name for mixing the fruit to create a juicier combination, however I discover it a lot simpler—and simply as scrumptious—to rapidly macerate the fruit with sugar and a little bit of lemon zest. I choose layering the dessert in particular person glasses, however in the event you’re brief on time or just can’t be bothered, you may assemble the entire thing in a big serving dish. And whether or not you select to make your individual meringue cookies or use store-bought is fully as much as you; eaten as an entire, it’s possible nobody will discover in case your meringues weren’t made out of scratch. 

Critical Eats/Amanda Suarez


Past the mandatory inclusion of berries, meringue, and whipped cream, there aren’t any onerous or quick guidelines on the best way to serve Eton mess. A very powerful factor is that you just make it earlier than berry season is over—as a result of whereas grocery store fruit will suffice, the dessert is probably the most scrumptious when made with berries so ripe they give the impression of being as in the event that they’re about to burst.


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