Recipe: Almond Eton Mess

RUTH PRETTY
Last updated 05:00 15/02/2014
eton mess
CAMERON BURNELL/Fairfax NZ

Creamy, crunchy and comforting, this scrumptious dessert is also gratifyingly quick to make.

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Never throw out an egg white. Desserts such as Eton Mess make this economy so worthwhile.

Eton Mess was made famous by the British college of the same name, and is enjoying a comeback.

Crunchy, creamy and sweet, and balanced with the natural acidity of strawberries, the combination of meringues, cream and fruit is much loved. decorated with sliced strawberries, or it can become Eton Mess. Restaurants have added it to their menus and brides are asking for it at weddings.

It's difficult to imagine that a dessert so simple to put together could be such a crowd-pleaser.

And if the thought of buying a bottle of Amaretto puts you off, I have other recipes to ensure you use up the bottle.

I believe at Eton there was another version using banana instead of strawberries. I haven't tried it, but suspect it would be a handy dessert in winter.

Here is a version I love, with an Italian twist, first made for me perhaps 15 years ago by friends and great cooks Ali and Ian Metcalfe.

ALMOND ETON MESS Serves 5-6

Don't combine the ingredients ahead of time as Eton Mess tastes so much better when the meringue is still crispy. 300ml (1 cup + 3 Tbsp + 1 tsp) cream

10ml (2 tsp) Amaretto liqueur

500g (2 punnets) strawberries, hulled and quartered

25 Almond Meringues, lightly broken and some lightly crushed

6-8 additional strawberries (with calyx on) for garnish

Whip to stiff peaks. Add Amaretto, strawberries and meringues and gently fold to combine.

Using a large spoon, place the mixture in a mound on a decorative platter, or into a bowl. Decorate with additional strawberries.

Present and serve as soon as possible.

ALMOND MERINGUES Makes 30-32

To keep meringues crisp, store in an airtight container in the pantry. (Pavlova, on the other hand, should not be stored airtight. Simply cover with baking paper or a tea towel.) 2 ( 1/4 cup) egg whites, at room temperature

150g (1 cup) sifted icing sugar

150g (1 1/2 cups) sliced almonds

15ml (1 Tbsp) lemon juice

Heat oven to 120°C. Line several baking trays with baking paper.

Place egg whites into a bowl of an electric mixer and whisk until stiff. With mixer running on high, pour in icing sugar. Continue to whisk until all combined and a light, dry meringue is reached. Add almonds and lemon juice and gently fold into meringue mixture.

Place heaped, teaspoon-size mounds onto prepared trays.

Place in preheated oven and bake for 1 hour or until meringues are dry and crisp.

Remove from oven and leave to cool on the trays before transferring to an airtight container.

Meringues can be stored for up to two weeks.

CARAMELISED STRAWBERRIES Makes 30

Strawberries should be at room temperature before dipping, as cold fruit will make the caramel condensate and break down. Dip strawberries on the day you need them and store at room temperature. Do not refrigerate.

200g (1 cup) sugar

125ml (½ cup) water

800-900g (30) large long-stemmed strawberries a baking tray with a clean Teflon sheet. Place sugar and water in a small stainless steel pot set over a medium-low heat. Using a metal spoon, stir until the sugar is dissolved.

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Increase heat and bring sugar solution to boil and boil for 6-8 minutes or until syrup is a golden-brown colour.

Remove pot from heat.

Holding pot firmly with a dry oven cloth or towel, lean pot on an angle and dip half to three quarters of each strawberry in the toffee.

Place dipped strawberries onto prepared, lined tray and leave for 4-5 minutes or until set.

- The Dominion Post

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