Now there’s two days until the end of the month and I have two recipes left to try out from Jo Wheatley’s A Passion For Baking as part of my Cooking The Books challenge for March 2014. Today, being Mothers’ Day I wanted to make a scrummy dessert for our lunch. I wanted something everyone in our house would eat and something not too heavy and sickly. All of the desserts in Jo’s first book looked lovely and I want to try them all out eventually. I chose Eton Mess because it meant I would have to try out making meringues, something which I haven’t really done. Normally I just buy the ready made meringue nests you get in the supermarkets, but Jo’s recipe would not only test my meringue skills but jam making ones too! I would have to make a strawberry jam like sauce, now jam making is something else I really struggle with. I can never get it to set properly!
Late this morning I was also trying to make an Onion and Cheese Tart for our lunch with the Eton Mess as the pudding. The meringue was going to be the time consuming bit as they would be in the oven for an hour baking plus the time they had to stay in there after to cool down. This was a bit of a pain as I needed the oven to bake the tart in. I have a double oven range cooker but I only cook roasts in the other one. It was funny as I was trying to sort out the Eton Mess downstairs in my kitchen, my hubby was upstairs moaning at my kids for the mess in their bedrooms. I give up!
Anyway, I was well out of it down in the kitchen and I got down to it straightaway. Here’s how I got on:
I had to make the meringues first. Here, I am whisking up three egg whites until they held soft peaks.
After that, the second stage was to add some caster sugar bit by bit to the egg whites. It took a long time to get the meringues stiff!
The meringues were a bit runnier than I expected but I managed to pipe them onto some baking parchment ready to pop in the oven. They were baked for about an hour on a low temperature (of 100oC), then were left to cool down in the oven afterwards even when the oven was switched off. This helped them to crisp up and set a little bit.
Here are my finished meringues. They don’t look very pretty but then it didn’t matter as I was going to break them up in chunks anyway!
While the meringues were baking I got on with the jam. Jo’s recipe mentions strawberries but being as strawberries aren’t in season at the moment I used a mixture of strawberries, raspberries and blueberries to make up the same quantity needed for the jam. I got the pan to the boil first to get the sugar dissolved which was also in the pan, then the heat was turned down and cooked for another 15 to 20 minutes longer to thicken up. Once this had happened I set it aside to cool down until I was ready to assemble the pudding.
Boiling the jam.
Whipping double cream and half fat creme fraiche together.
When it was time to get the pudding ready I got out some double cream and half fat creme fraiche. I’d had to use some of my double cream in the onion and cheese tart so there wasn’t enough to put on the Eton Mess! You needed 600ml of double cream, I only had 350ml, so I added in a small tub of half fat creme fraiche I had in the fridge. This was whipped up together with my electric hand whisk.
A huge bowlful of whipped cream and creme fraiche.
When it was ready I started to assemble the puddings. I don’t have any tall sundae glasses so I used some tumblers. The strawberry jam went in the bottom of the glasses first, with pieces of crushed meringue, cream with jam stirred through, followed by plain cream and finished with more meringue pieces. I’d forgotten to save some fruit to keep for the top of the puddings.
My finished Eton Messes!
Showing the crushed homemade meringues on top of the cake.
We all thoroughly enjoyed our puddings and they were very naughty but nice. My hubby is convinced that Eton Mess has vanilla ice cream in it, I told him he was wrong! To me Eton Mess is like a pavlova but messed up! If he wants ice cream with it I suppose you could have a scoop of it on the side. I couldn’t help him out there, we didn’t have any ice cream in to give him!
Love Sam xx