Eton Mess is a traditional English dessert, which is typically a mixture of strawberries or bananas, pieces of meringue, and cream. It was a traditionally served at Eton College’s annual cricket match against the students of Harrow School. The word mess likely refers to the appearance of the dish, or a dish made from mixed together ingredients. Messy or not, this is a perfect dessert to make for the U.S. Memorial Day holiday. Red, white, and blue – and easy.
At it’s simplest, Eaton Mess is a pudding which is made by combining chunks of baked meringue, with cream and fruit. It’s been a dish that vegans couldn’t eat – until now, thanks to aquafaba (that is bean water) meringue. This meringue is vegan, stable, easy to make, and delicious. No, there is no taste of the bean in this meringue.
According to the author of Recipes from the Dairy who spoke to Eton College’s librarian, Eton mess was served in the 1930s in the school’s tuck shop, and was originally made with either strawberries or bananas mixed with ice cream or cream. The meringue was a later addition, and may have been an innovation by Michael Smith, the author of Fine English Cookery. Whatever is factual, this is a great spring and summer rather-instant dessert.
An Eton Mess can be made with many other types of summer fruit, but strawberries are considered the most traditional. A similar dessert is the Lancing Mess, which uses bananas, and is served throughout the year at Lancing College in West Sussex.
I’ve eaten been eating a lot of chickpeas and white beans, more than usual lately, as I re-tested some different ways to make the most stable and easiest aquafaba meringue. Meringue can be made using a hand mixer but having a stand mixer, like my reliable and beautiful Kitchen Aid, makes for a faster process. I wrote in my Vegan Meringue Cookies blog post last year that I no longer reduce the bean water, and that I add the almost powdered vegan organic cane sugar slowly to the meringue-cream of tartar mixture after just a few minutes of beating. Today I am going to revise those views. I do reduce the bean water, but not everyone does.
The previous methods are not wrong and will give you a good meringue, but for one that is sturdier, and still firm after 24 hours in the refrigerator, follow along here.
Follow the recipe for meringue in last year’s blog post but try these differences:
The Bean Liquid
I reduce the typical 3/4 cup of chickpea water from a can to 1/2 cup. Simply pour the chickpea water into a saucepan and reduce over medium heat about 10 minutes, or until it reduces to 1/2 cup. Chill before using.
Today I reduced the almost powdered sugar from 6 ounces to 4 ounces and it was enough. You decide if 4 ounces is sweet enough for you, but for whichever amount you choose to use, grind cane sugar until almost powdered in a spice grinder or high-speed blender. I did not sweeten the fruit as the creams are sweet enough.
The Eaton Mess Unrecipe:
- You’ll need:
- A dish or bowl
- Chunks of baked meringue, big pieces as well as smaller ones, too.
- Vanilla Custard Cream
To Make the Eton Mess
- Fold pastry cream, to taste into the aquafaba. Don’t mix thoroughly, it is ok to see the swirly differences.
- Spoon cream into a serving bowl.
- Add chunks of meringue.
- Add fruit, lots of it.
- Serve immediately or hold for a few hours. The meringue will soften into the cream and get chewy like marshmallow.
You can also serve on a plate with a nod to Pavlova.
- Spoon a round of cream on a plate.
- Top with a large meringue
- Mash some raspberries with a fork and cover the meringue.
- Top with cream and lots of fruit.