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Posted on Tue, Jun 11, 2013 : 11:11 a.m.

Strawberry season is time to make an Eton Mess

By Kim Bayer


A perfect locavore dessert: Eton Mess with strawberries, whipped cream, and meringues

Photo by Bob Kuehne

I've been waiting for strawberry season to come to the Ann Arbor Farmers' Market so that I could make an Eton Mess, the "English dessert…which is traditionally served at Eton College's annual cricket game against the pupils of Harrow School." Even if it's an unlovely name, Eton Mess is an amazing dessert combining sweet berries, whipped cream, and crisp meringue that is simple to make and easy to fall in love with.

I was hoping for some of the amazing strawberries from Frog Holler Organic Farm, but heard I was about a week too early. Luckily, I bumped into Melissa on her first day at the market with her Sweet Dirt ice cream cart and she recommended the berries from a new vendor called Daisy Farm.

In the middle of "dead man's alley," the dirt lot where all the vendors with the least seniority get stuck, I found my quarry and peppered Mr. Daisy about what kinds of strawberries he grows and whether he had heard of the heirloom and endangered Marshall Strawberry. That man knows his fruit, and I came home with two quarts of big, beautiful Honeoye strawberries.

I was inspired to make Eton Mess from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's recipe for a strawberry-rhubarb version in "River Cottage Every Day." You can use other fruits in an Eton Mess (though berries and bananas are most traditional). But now that it's rhubarb and strawberry season, you'd be a fool not to make a Mess.

And I made the meringues for my Eton Mess with ducks eggs from Our Family Farm. Here's how:

5 ducks eggs, separated
1 cup sugar (superfine if possible)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 teaspoon vinegar
1/2 teaspoon almond extract

Strawberry-Rhubarb Compote
2 pints strawberries, cleaned
1-2 cup rhubarb sauce
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon orange flower or rose water

Whipped cream
1 and 1/2 cup whipping cream

Pre-heat oven to 250 degrees. In a stand mixer with a spotlessly clean bowl and beater, put in egg whites and mix until foamy. Add salt and cream of tartar and continue mixing until stiff peaks form. At the stiff peak stage, start adding the sugar 1 tablespoon at a time. Keep beating for about 5 minutes until grains of sugar are completely dissolved. Add vinegar and almond extract in the final minute.

Line baking sheets with parchment. Spoon mounds of meringue on sheets. Bake at 250 degrees for approximately 2 hours. Cool completely.

Strawberry-Rhubarb Compote
Cut strawberries in half or in thick slices. Add sugar and orange flower water. Let steep until juicy.

Whipped cream
Put cream into a chilled bowl and beat until thick.

To assemble
Break up cooled meringues, saving a few for the top. Mix together with whipped cream. Just before bringing to the table, gently fold in strawberries and rhubarb just until streaked through - not completely incorporated.

Serve with spoons.

Kim Bayer is a freelance writer and culinary researcher. Email her at kimbayer at gmail dot com.



Wed, Jun 12, 2013 : 4:44 a.m.

The lot isn't dirt unless you wrote this two weeks ago.

Vivienne Armentrout

Tue, Jun 11, 2013 : 10:44 p.m.

This sounds very much like the dessert I was served while living in Wisconsin which is called "Schaum tortes". In looking it up, I find it is also called "individual Pavlovas" (a similar dessert popular in New Zealand is called Pavlova). Apparently the German background of many Wisconsin natives contributed to this dessert. Schaum tortes are little nests of sweetened meringue that are cooked, then filled with fresh cut strawberries and whipped cream. They are, in my opinion, rather prettier than the "mess".

Joan Doughty

Tue, Jun 11, 2013 : 10:20 p.m.

Most of us don't have easy access to duck eggs. Would you mind posting the recipe with regular eggs? Or can we just substitute?


Tue, Jun 11, 2013 : 7:24 p.m.

We got berries from that same vendor (also courtesy of Mel). Really, really good. We also got some of the Sweet Dirt basil ice cream and that was scrumptious.

Steve Bean

Tue, Jun 11, 2013 : 3:40 p.m.

Sounds good. Maybe I'll try it. The "dead man's alley" is no longer dirt, Kim. I didn't notice it at first either. It's been smooth asphalt since at least the beginning of June.