Hey, remember when I made that passion fruit curd? I posted about it, like, two days ago. Here’s a refresher:
Well, it turns out that passion fruit curd isn’t just good for layering in tiny glasses and topping with whipped cream. It’s also good for layering in GIANT glasses and topping with whipped cream, meringue cookies, fresh berries, and toasted coconut. And when we do this, it’s called an Eton Mess.
Eton Mess: It sounds so wrong, it tastes so right.
Food lore (and by food lore I mean a quick google search) tells me that the Eton mess has its origins in Eton College in England, where it started as a quick dessert composed of sliced fruit (usually bananas or strawberries) and whipped cream or ice cream. Nowadays, Eton mess is distinguished by layers of fresh fruit and whipped cream mixed with crunchy meringue cookies.
I think the meringue cookies are the silent heroes in this situation. They add a light, crispy crunch to the dessert, which would otherwise be too heavy on the creamy/gloopy side of things.
You may be saying to yourself, “Self, isn’t this a trifle in disguise, with meringue cookies instead of cake? WHEN WILL THE TRIFLING END?” Well, no. Okay, maybe just a little bit. Yes, both desserts share a fondness for wearing layers and the ability to jump from my spoon to my mouth in .00635 seconds, but a trifle is much more substantial. It’s cakey. It’s a bit heavy—awesome, but heavy.
The Eton Mess is ephemeral. The whipped cream, the curd, the berries, and the meringues all have a light texture and delicate flavor, and it can really only be enjoyed shortly after it’s made, before the meringues start to melt and disintegrate into the cream, leaving little sugary pockets behind.
I haven’t even mentioned the best part yet—it’s dead easy! Buy your favorite meringue cookies (I get mine from Trader Joe’s) and throw them into some lightly whipped cream. Add fresh fruit on top, and you’re good to go. I layered mine with passion fruit curd, because that’s what I had on hand, but it’s completely optional.
You could also go crazy—and very untraditional—by adding a little caramel sauce, chocolate sauce, or any other fun dessert-y things you have on hand. Nuts! Sprinkles! Cherries! Oh wait, now we’re making a sundae. But you get the idea. There’s a reason it’s called an Eton MESS—go get messy!
Eton Mess with Passion Fruit Curd and Fresh Strawberries
Yield: 4 dessert glasses
1 lb fresh strawberries, washed, hulled, and coarsely chopped
3 tbsp granulated sugar
16 vanilla meringue cookies
1-1/2 cups heavy whipping cream, chilled
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups passion fruit curd, completely optional
Toasted nuts or coconut to top, optional
Mix together the strawberries and the granulated sugar in a small bowl and set aside to get nice and juicy while you prepare the rest of the recipe.
Coarsely chop the meringue cookies until they are in small chunks. Keep them bite-sized, but don’t chop them too much and reduce them to powder.
Combine the heavy cream, powdered sugar, and vanilla extract in a chilled mixing bowl. Beat the cream until it holds firm peaks, but be careful not to overbeat and cause the cream to become grainy and curdled.
Add the chopped meringues to the bowl of whipped cream and gently fold them together.
Layer all of the elements in your desert glasses. Begin with a spoonful of whipped cream and cookies, then the curd if you’re using it, then the strawberries. Repeat the layering until you reach the top of your glasses. Top the desserts with a swirl of whipped cream and any toppings you would like. Serve immediately.