Blueberry Eton Mess

BlueberryEtonMess

 

There are some things that simply should not be messed with.  Just ask the Coca-Cola Company.  In 1985 they decided to take the formula for Coca-Cola that had made them a fortune since Atlanta drugstore owner John Pemberton develoed it in 1885 and tweak it as a centenary celebration – on other words, they decided to mess with it.  They tweaked a little here and tweaked a little there, and came up with “new” coke – and the public hated it.  Within three months, they had to re-release the old recipe Coke as Classic Coke.  Lesson learnt?  If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

 

Similarly, there are some recipes that just should be left alone.  Caesar salad is a good example.  It is the height of simplicity, relying purely on good ingredients to create a classic and umami-rich dressing for lettuce, enlivened with croutons and anchovies.  I recently had an example where the creator had seen fit to “improve” on the classic recipe, with the addition of (wait for it) caramelised onions and goat’s cheese.  WTF??  Or take the French classic peasant dish, cassoulet.  No, you cannot make a reasonable approximation using baked beans; or cheap pork sausages; or anything that can be called a “quick” cassoulet. Juet because it has pork and beans in it does not make it a cassoulet; and any attempt to make it fat-free or vegetarian is just plain wrong!

 

NielsenMasseyVanillaEdited

 

And then you get the classic recipes that are crying out to be customised and messed with.  The purists may want to shoot me, but I love making tarte tatin with all sorts of things other than classic apples – and it works beautifully.  Pear and cardamom; nectarines and ginger; even a savoury yellow pepper version.  All are wonderful incarnations of the original – not a replacement, but intriguing alternatives.

Another classic that can take a lot of messing about with and still come out on top is Eton mess.  This classic English summer dessert is so named because a) it is traditionally served at the eponymous school’s annual prizegiving; and b) because it looks, well, a mess!  Strawberries are mixed with whipped cream and crushed merigues before servig – delicious but messy.  The original version was made with strawberries, but nothing stops you from trying versions using other berries.  I have made it with blackberries before, and at the recent Plate to Page workshop in Somerset, we made a wonderfully tart raspberry Eton Mess, which got me thinking about other berries that I could use.  Having a few guests around recently for a summer barbecue gave me the perfect opportunity to test my theory that blueberries would work well too – and they do!  It’s a less exuberantly colourful version, and also slightly less strongly flavoured, but provides a lovely, subtly sweet end to a meal – and seeing as blueberries are packed with antioxidants, you can even kid yourself that you are having a healthy dessert :)

 

BlueberryEtonMessFinal

 

BLUEBERRY ETON MESS (serves 8)

Ingredients:

500g fresh blueberries
600ml double cream
1 tsp plus 1 heaped Tbsp caster sugar, divided
1 tsp vanilla essence (I used Nielsen Massey one of the very kind sponsors of Plate to Page)
8 small meringue nests (store-bought is fine)

 

Method:

Rinse the blueberries.  Take about 50g of them and place in a small saucepan with 1 tsp of caster sugar and a little water.  Heat over gentle heat until the blueberries can be crushed with a fork to form a chunky coulis.  Leave to cool.

Whip the cream together with the remaining caster sugar and vanilla essence until soft peaks form. In a separate bowl, crush the meringues.

In a pretty glass bowl, mix the whole blueberries, the whipped cream and the crushed meringues.  Swirl the coulis through but do not mix too well – you want to see swirls of colour.

Serve immediately, garnished with a few fresh blueberries.

 

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  1. says

    It seems a global problem this thing of tweeking stuff even though people are happy with it. But people just don’t seem to get that fixing stuff that aren’t broken should not be done.

  2. says

    Love Eton Mess and the raspberry one we made at Meare Court was divine. I made one last weekend using both strawberries and raspberries simply because I could not decide. I have to try the blueberry version too!

  3. says

    I made eton mess with strawberries and blueberries this weekend in an attempt to include Jubilee colours, but as you know the blueberries just make it go pink! Tasted absolutely divine though so know your version would be equally as delicious :-) I didn’t include any sugar and thought it tasted lovely, but I guess it depends how juicy the fruit is.

  4. says

    Love the colours in your photographs!
    I can’t believe that I’ve never made Eton mess before – it seems to be such an English thing. I’m going to have to try it when our strawberry season starts again. We usually have pavlova with strawberries and I guess this is just an unstructured pavlova… perhaps something to rescue the situation when you accidentally drop the pavlova on the way to the table!

  5. Kim Adie says

    Blog pages need to have a like button! I just love your page! and your recipes. I’m a fellow SA/Zimbo now living in beautiful Burgundy, and I used your recipes for bobotie, sosaties etc for numerous dinner parties! Thanks for the great blog.

  6. says

    I think I am in Eton Mess madness here. Like you I believe that some recipes should be left alone, however my ever wandering mind always makes me mess with recipes to see if there might be a way to get a different flavor level. Love blueberries but the raspberry Eton Mess in Somerset was unbeatable – maybe because we were all together and there are fond memories attached!