Eton not so Messy

This week Celebrity Chef &Master Chef Steven Saunders, proprietor of the award-winning Little Geranium in La Cala makes a mess in the kitchen with Meringue!

Last of the summer fruits and messing around with Eton!

ETON MESS is a traditional English dessert dating back to the late eighteen hundreds originating from Eton college. It was served at the Eton school’s annual cricket matches and became famous when the English people discovered that they loved meringue, cream and fresh fruits. Everything related to the dish encapsulated the English summer. Whipped fresh cream, English strawberries, raspberries and blueberries were often added, usually served up with tennis or cricket. Now chefs love evolving recipes but you have to be careful.

Careful, because some classics should be just left alone. 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 but he is not always right. Mushed up fruit and meringue served in a glass is not very 21st century.

I  saw this as a challenge and so I went into 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 but keeping the thread of the dish. Then I remembered my days at The Savoy in London where I had spent my training and I used to pipe little blobs of meringue fora dish they served in a martini glass with fruits.

On one occasion I had piped over a thousand little blobs 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 tiny meringue blobs and also a spread meringue (like spreading butter) so that I could have little crisps of meringue.

The two different types would add textures. I cooked them really slowly at 100c for about one hour. When I felt them, they were hard on the outside as they should be but soft in the centre. The spread meringue will be crisp all the way through. Then I went to work on laying out the dish on the plate. The dish I created looked quite beautiful but still simple and when served to the guests, it really has the wow factor!

I sent an Instagram message and photo of the new Eton Mess to Heston with the picture but he didn’t respond. In fact,out of the26,000 followers he has, he follows just none! Heston does not follow anyone so hence he would never have seen my creation! If you want to be really creative you can get even more ‘Hestony’ by serving the plate under a glass dome with liquid nitrogen (dry ice) which we have often done at the Geranium.

I hope that I have helped evolve and improve the appearance of this classic but not change the flavours or the textures of the original dish. We are getting to see the last of the summer fruits now so if you want to make something really special with them then have a go at this recipe and impress your guests with your cooking and presentation skills.

Eton not so Messy

Ingredients for Meringue (recipe below makes about eight portions)

  • 160g of egg whites
  • 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.
  • Put in a piping bag and pipe into small 2cm domes onto a baking tray lined with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat which makes life a lot easier!
  • Also pipe 1 large blob and spread thinly with a palette knife to create a sheet of meringue about ¼ cm thick.
  • Place the meringues in the oven for 1 hour and then check them, the outer shell should be firm.

For the raspberry sauce(coulis)

  • 1punnet raspberries
  • 150g sugar/ 100mlofwater in sauce pan until sugar dissolves and becomes a little syrupy) 

Method for raspberry sauce

  • Cook the raspberries in the sugar syrup until they break down and then blend in a food processor.
  • Finally, pass through a fine sieve to remove the seeds

For the meringue crisps

  • Take the sheet of cooked meringue and break with your fingers into small 2cm pieces.
  • Reserve.

To dress the meringues

  • 1 punnet of raspberries
  • 1 punnet blueberries
  • 1 punnet strawberries
  • 250ml of fresh thick cream, lightly whipped
  • 1 tablespoon of the raspberry sauce (above)

To assemble the dessert

  • Follow the picture in the article and try to get it straight, neat and tidy.
  • Pipe little blobs of raspberry sauce (coulis) either in small piping bag or make a paper one from parchment/baking paper.
  • Pipe blobs of fresh cream then add the domes of meringue followed by the fruits and finally the meringue crisps.
  • Garnish and dress with the raspberry coulis.

Note: You can freeze some raspberries and then lightly crush them and sprinkle over the dessert to finish.

Follow Steven on Instagram ….@saunderschef

The Little Geranium, Winner of Best International Restaurant Spain…2020

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Steven Saunders

Steven Saunders FMCGB - The Little Geranium - La Cala de Mijas & Marbella