What a mess

Wel­come the on­set of spring with this slightly deca­dent dessert

Life & Style Weekend - - TASTE - with Mag­gie Cooper

ETON Mess is the de­light­ful name given to a de­li­cious dessert that is thought to have orig­i­nated as a post-cricket treat in the “sock shop” (tuck shop, or can­teen) of the fa­mous boys’ school in Eng­land.

This sim­ple-to-make dish is not un­like a de­con­structed pavlova and is a fab­u­lous way to cel­e­brate the start of spring.

The tra­di­tional in­gre­di­ents are straw­ber­ries, whipped chan­tilly cream and crushed meringue.

The straw­ber­ries are a nod to healthy eat­ing but the rest of the in­gre­di­ents let it down rather badly.

I now sub­sti­tute unsweet­ened Greek yo­gurt for half the cream, and add more fruit in the form of rasp­ber­ries or what­ever is in sea­son to make it a lit­tle less gasp-wor­thy, so this recipe is more Mag­gie’s mess than Eton’s.

My phi­los­o­phy these days is en­joy what you eat; if you feel guilty there’s no point.

If you eat a small por­tion of an in­dul­gent dessert oc­ca­sion­ally, just go for a good long walk af­ter­wards and avoid sweet treats for the next week or two.

You can forgo the sugar when whip­ping the cream but it helps to sta­bilise it. If you do use the sugar you can pre­pare the dessert a few hours ahead but leave the meringues out un­til you’re ready to serve.

If I have time I make my own meringues, but you can buy the minia­ture vanilla ver­sions in most su­per­mar­kets.

Un­like a pavlova, a meringue is cooked right through so will stay fresh stored in an air­tight con­tainer in a dark cup­board for many months. Once added to the dessert though, serve im­me­di­ately while still crunchy or they will dis­solve.

Mag­gie’s mess

Serves 4

IN­GRE­DI­ENTS: 200ml pure cream 2 tbs sugar 250g pun­net straw­ber­ries 125g pun­net rasp­ber­ries 150ml plain thick Greek yo­gurt 12 mini vanilla meringues

METHOD: Chill cream and mix­ing bowl be­fore start­ing.

Whip cream with sugar un­til soft peaks form; do not over­beat. Hull straw­ber­ries and wash along with the rasp­ber­ries.

Pat dry with a pa­per towel. Slice straw­ber­ries in half, or quar­ters if large.

In a clean bowl, gen­tly mix cream, berries and yo­gurt un­til just com­bined.

Lightly crush meringues into chunks and gen­tly fold through the mix­ture. Di­vide among four bowls. Serve im­me­di­ately.

Vari­a­tion: Fold the pulp of pas­sion­fruit through the mix­ture. Con­tact Mag­gie at mag­gies.col­umn@big­pond.com


Mag­gie's mess is a rich dessert based on an old English favourite.

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