Delicious layers of fresh whipped lemon cream, meringue pieces, lemon curd and fresh blackberries make up this Eton Mess, a classic English dessert given an Autumnal makeover! Every layer is homemade but so easy, and if you make the meringue and curd in advance (or use store bought) this incredible dessert can be put together in minutes!
So, if you follow me on any kind of social media you may have realised that the Rugby World Cup is currently underway and I’m a big England supporter! Last weekend we had a crushing defeat against Wales (we only lost by three points, but losing to Wales is the worst thing that can happen to us!) so I’ve been kinda bummed all week! Tomorrow we play Australia, it’s really important that we win this one and score a lot of points, so I’m pulling out all the stops in my support – including creating a special dessert recipe in support of England Rugby. And so this incredible dessert was born – Blackberry & Lemon Eton Mess!
Eton Mess is a traditional English dessert, it was created by Eton College and they serve it at their annual cricket game. Some unsavoury people have come out of Eton College *cough* David Cameron *cough*, but this amazing dessert totally makes up for that! It’s ususally made with strawberries or raspberries (or bananas at Eton), I prefer raspberries as the tartness counteracts the sweetness of the cream and meringue perfectly. Since this is a summer dessert, strawberries and raspberries make perfect sense, but as we’re now into autumn I thought I’d give it a little Autumnal makeover and use lemons and blackberries – it works beautifully, tart lemons and blackberries balance the sweetness amazingly. Raspberries may have been a more patriotic choice, since England’s flag colours are red and white, but I’m sure the team would understand! Besides, blackberries are wonderfully British anyway!
I didn’t pick these blackberries, I picked a massive amount this season but I’ve used them all up now and the brambles are pretty naked now. I do wish that wild blackberries grew this big though, that’d be amazing! I feel wrong buying blackberries since you can find so many in the wild around here, but these were so big, juicy and delicious that I can’t be that mad! Everything else in this Eton Mess is homemade though, it’s all pretty simple to do so don’t let that put you off! The meringue takes the longest, to get perfectly crunchy on the outside, chewy and melty on the inside meringues they need to be baked for a long time at a low temperature, and left to cool slowly. It’s worth all that waiting because the results are amazing, but if you don’t have the luxury of time you can totally use your favourite store bought meringues! Same goes for the lemon curd, I absolutely adore my homemade lemon curd and it’s so easy to make so I totally recommend giving it a go but, again, if you’re pressed for time you can use your favourite store bought brand. The whipped cream takes just minutes to whip up, and you do it when you’re ready to assemble and serve the dessert – I infused the cream with a light lemon flavour by letting the cream steep with lemon peel overnight. If you’re doing this last minute though, just add the juice from half a lemon before whipping.
- 3 large egg whites
- 140g caster sugar (superfine granulated)
- Purple and yellow food colouring (optional)
- 5 lemons, juice and zest
- 1 large egg
- 1 large egg yolk
- 115g white sugar
- 60g unsalted butter
- pinch of salt
- 300ml double cream (heavy cream will also work) steeped in the zest of 1 lemon overnight in the fridge.
- 2 tbsp icing sugar (powdered sugar)
- 150g fresh blackberries
- Preheat the oven to 90C/200F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper, set aside.
- Beat the egg whites and sugar together on medium-high speed in a clean, metal bowl until you have stiff, glossy peaks - pull the whisk out of the egg whites and hold it upside down, the "peak" should stand up straight (see notes for more info on whipping egg whites)
- Fit a large piping bag with a star nozzle and if using colouring, use a tooth pick or wooden skewer to make lines of food colouring down the length of the inside of the bag - 2 purple, 2 yellow - fairly evenly spaced. Don't worry about being neat here. Spoon the meringue into the piping bag and pipe small meringue stars on the prepared baking sheets. If you'd prefer not to use a piping bag, just spoon dollops onto the baking sheet, about 1/2 tbsp per dollop. They won't spread so you can space them fairly close together. Rest for about 10 minutes (this step isn't absolutely necessarly, I just find it helps them dry out and hold their shape)
- Bake in your preheated oven for 45 minutes. Then rotate the baking sheets and swap shelves around. Bake for another 45 minutes. Then turn the oven off, prop the door open an inch and leave to cool completely inside the oven. Once completely cooled, store in an airtight container at room temperature until ready to use. Can be kept up to 1 week. DO NOT put in the fridge.
- Zest lemons and set zest aside.
- Juice lemons and strain to remove any pulp or seeds. Pour into a medium saucepan and heat on low. Leave to reduce down to 125ml of juice, will take about 10 minutes but check every 3 minutes or so. Pour into a heat proof bowl and add the zest, leave to cool.
- Rinse and dry the saucepan. Once it's cool to touch, add the egg, yolk, sugar and salt to the pan, whisk to combine. Whisk in the cooled juice (doesn't need to be completely cold, just not hot so it doesn't scramble the eggs) and add the butter.
- Cook over a medium heat, whisking constantly, until the mixture is thickened and coats the back of a spoon - about 10-15 minutes.
- Strain through a wire mesh sieve to remove zest. For an extra smooth curd, strain twice. Leave to cool completely and store in a jar to chill until ready to use. Curd will thicken considerably as it cools. Store in fridge for up to 1 week.
- Strain the cold lemon cream to remove zest and add cream and sugar to metal bowl and whip until you have soft peaks (the cream will be soft and fluffy, it will hold it's shape but not stiff).
- Spoon the cream into a piping bag and pipe a layer at the bottom of three serving dishes. Crumble 2-3 meringues on top of the cream. Spoon on 2 tsp lemon curd and place 3-4 blackberries on top. Repeat these layers 2 times, finishing with a final layer of whipped cream and crushed meringue. Garnish with another blackberry and a meringue.
- Serve immediately.
- To ensure you get properly whipped egg whites you need to ensure your bowl and whisk/beaters are completely clean, any grease (or stray yolk) will stop them whipping. Metal bowls are best as plastic clings onto grease.
- I always beat my egg whites and sugar together right from the beginning, I've never found it necessary to add the sugar gradually and my meringues always turn out awesome. However if you wanted the extra added safety, whip your egg whites separately until soft, foamy peaks form then while still beating add the sugar 1tbsp at a time and whip to glossy, stiff peaks.
- If you don't want to steep your cream with lemon zest overnight, just add the juice of half a lemon before whipping the cream. I prefer the subtle taste of steeping so I definitely recommend that method if you can.
- This recipe is for 3 individual portions. However you can add it all to one bowl and spoon out servings. Meringue and curd recipes make enough for at least 6 servings, so if you'd like to serve more just double the blackberry and cream amounts.
- Any left over meringues can be eaten as is (delicious) or used in another recipe, will keep in an airtight container for up to 1 week.
- Any left over curd should be stored in the fridge for up to 1 week.
I know it seems like a lot of steps and it might seem a little intimidating, especially with homemade meringue, but I promise it’s not that hard. Or even that much effort, there’s just a lot of waiting for the meringue to bake – but you can just make the curd while you’re waiting! And, look, I’m no snob, if you wanna use store bought meringues and curd I’m not gonna fault you there – we’re all very busy and if using store bought makes your life easier then I say go for it! After all, you’ll still get a delicious dessert on the table for your family and/or friends and that’s the most important part! If you do have a few hours spare though I really do recommend taking a shot at the homemade meringue, it’s not as hard as it may seem and it’ll make you feel really proud of yourself – I still remember the first time I made meringue from scratch, I was so chuffed with myself! And hey, if you’re a bit apprehensive or I haven’t made anything clear enough just give me a shout, I’ll be happy to help! The curd is just plain amazing and so simple, once you try it yourself I promise you won’t ever want to go back to store bought (even if occasionally you have to!). Fresh whipped cream is something you definitely shouldn’t take the shortcut with, it’s quick and easy to make and it’s leagues better than the stuff you get in a can – trust me, your tummies will thank you!
As I mentioned in the recipe notes, these are obviously individual portions. I LOVE individually portioned desserts, it’s half the reason I love cupcakes so much, plus they’re so cute! I absolutely adore these individual Eton Messes (Mess’? I have no idea!), don’t you think they’re just so pretty? I coloured the meringues to give the dessert a pop of colour, and they ended up looking like pansies and they make me really happy – the colouring of course isn’t necessary, I just love how they look and besides, dessert should be fun! Eton Mess, traditionally, is served more like a trifle though – in a big serving dish (preferably glass so you can see all the yummy layers) and then it’s spooned out. While I’m obviously bias to the individual portions, either will be great – it’s always going to be delicious no matter how you serve it!
So, this one’s for you England Rugby! I hope this some how puts some good vibes out into the universe and we have an amazing game on Saturday, if we win I’m totally taking credit! Has anyone else been watching the Rugby World Cup, who’s your team? I’d also really love to hear your thoughts on my Blackberry & Lemon Eton Mess, are you going to give them a go?
If you do try this recipe out, I’d love to hear what you think, either comment below or tag me in any photos you take of your bakes with @GiraffesCanBake on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook!
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