Messing around with Eton!

PERFECTLY FORMED: Just ready to smash! Photo: The Little Geranium

ETON MESS is a traditional English dessert dating back to the late eighteen hundreds originating from Eton College.

It was served at the Eton schools annual cricket matches and became famous when the English people discovered that they loved it and then related it to all things that anEnglish summer should be – whipped cream, fresh strawberries and good tennis or cricket!

Now chefs love evolving recipes, Heston Blumenthal said that he couldn’t and wouldn’t change Eton Mess and concluded that although it looks messy that is where the tradition lies.

I like Heston and his work but I saw this as a challenge and so I went to my home kitchen and started messing about with meringues. I tried many different ways of serving them with cream and summer fruits to make them more attractive.

Then I remembered my days at The Savoy in London where I had spent my training and I used to pipe Duchess Potatoes by the tray load for parties in the Lancaster suite.

On one occasion I had piped over a thousand for an event hosted by Frank Sinatra and on another occasion a similar amount for the Queen Mother’s birthday party and it came to mind when I was holding the piping bag filled with the meringue mix!

So I piped a tray of duchess-looking meringue nests standing tall and cooked them really slowly at 100c for about two hours.

When I felt them they were hard on the outside as they should be, but they weren’t cooked on the inside and so I scooped the inside out and discarded it thinking, back to the drawing board! Then it came to me, fill the gap (the scooped out meringue) with the fruit and cream and you will have a perfect looking meringue all neat and tidy, quite beautiful and then serve it at the table so the guest admires your work and then smash it in front of them and there you have Eton Mess!

You can evolve it even more by making a huge meringue duchess nest for say four or more people and then add liquid nitrogen. When smashed in front of the guest it will add theatre, creating the wow factor, chilling the fruit and adding vapor.

Now serve it as mushed up meringue with fruit and cream like the boys do at Eton and guess what…no wow factor! Heston is evolving and improving it but not really changing our lovely Eton Mess.

As always when I have spent hours in my kitchen playing, all the good results end up on the Geranium menu and although it’s a little early for summer fruits the Spanish raspberries I am getting are delicious and so I have been using them, not strawberries(they are still a little tasteless) and the result has been a great success.

My restaurant guests are loving the dessert so much so that El Torreon restaurant (on the playa in La Cala) where I am also involved, wants it on the menu too!

Have a play with this recipe this weekend and impress your partner with your cooking and presentation skills. It’s easy to make, pretty fool proof and damn tasty!

Ingredients for Meringue (recipe below for 4 but makes at least 8 nests)

160g of egg white

160g of caster sugar

160g of icing sugar

Method for Meringues

Preheat the oven to 100°C or lowest gas mark setting

Whisk the egg whites until very stiff then gradually add the caster sugar. Beat until incorporated, then finally add the icing sugar and whisk until combined. Place in a piping bag and pipe large domes onto a baking tray lined with parchment paper

Place the meringues in the oven for approx. 2 hours, or until the outer shell is firm. Whilst still warm, scoop out all of the soft meringue inside and discard so you are left with just the shells

For the raspberry sauce

2punnets raspberries

Approx.50ml of sugar stock syrup (100g sugar/ 50g water in saucepan until sugar dissolves)

Method for sauce

Blend a punnet of raspberries into a purée with the sugar syrup and pass through a fine sieve to remove the seeds

For the filling

1 punnetof raspberries

250ml of fresh thick cream, lightly whipped

1 tablespoon of the raspberry sauce (above)

To assemble the Eton messes, slice the raspberries in half then gently fold into the cream. Fill the meringue shells with the raspberry cream and then place them on a bed of raspberry sauce and serve

Note: You can freeze some raspberries and then lightly crush them and sprinkle over the meringues

You can email Steven any questions on:

Winner of Best Contemporary International Restaurant 2018-Costa Del Sol

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