Rhubarb Eton Mess
I’ve been thinking about this recipe forever. And on Easter weekend I finally made it to top off the nice family dinner we had. Dessert is always highly motivating to my kids but this one made them both dig into their grilled rack of lamb, which on another day would have been met with more than a little suspicion. Eton Mess is a traditional British dessert which hails from, yep, Eton, the famous English public school. Which means private. Weird, right? Anyway, it’s usually made with strawberries but when I saw a bunch of rhubarb at the grocery store I thought, why not? I apologize for not posting this sooner – if you make this in the next week you’ll still find fresh rhubarb in the stores and markets but you could absolutely use frozen if you miss it.
Eton Mess is a bit of a mess but it’s also quite pretty before you dive in – so serve it either in a big glass bowl or in individual clear parfait glasses. The trick is to get all of your elements together and then assemble it just before serving. You want your meringue pieces to have some crunch so don’t put it together too early. This was hugely popular with my family and I’ll definitely make it again but the real revelation was how easy it is to make meringues. Why did I think they’d be tricky? So now I’m thinking of other things to make with meringues. Pavlovas… what else? Let me know if you’ve got any great meringue recipes you’d like to share!
Rhubarb Eton Mess
3 egg whites
1/2 cup superfine sugar
2 cups chopped fresh rhubarb (if you’re using frozen, just thaw before you start)
1/2 cup orange juice
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp orange zest
1 cup (250 ml carton) whipping cream
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.
In a pristinely clean bowl, whip your egg whites until they form soft peaks. Gently add the 1/2 cup of sugar and pinch of salt as you continue to beat the egg whites. Tell me you’re using an electric mixer or standing mixer, okay? Your poor arm if not! Continue to beat on high speed for about 6 or 7 minutes until the mixture is glossy and stiff.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Now use a big soup spoon to ladle the meringues onto the baking sheet. You can use the back of the spoon to shape them into circles with a little swirl. But honestly, since these are being broken up later, don’t worry too much about how they look. You’ll get about 3 or 4 meringues out of this (I doubled the recipe when I made it, which is why there are more in the picture above). Pop them into your hot oven for 1 hour. If you want chewy meringues, take them out of the oven right away to cool. If you’d like crunchy meringues, leave them in oven (with the heat turned off!) until the oven cools. I took mine out right away and I wish I’d split the difference – they could have had a bit more crunch.
While that’s all happening you can get on with your rhubarb. Place the rhubarb, sugar, orange juice and zest in a small pot and bring it to a boil. Then reduce the heat and allow it to simmer for about 10 minutes. Allow the mixture to cool completely.
In another bowl, whip up your whipping cream with an electric mixer until it is in soft peaks.
Okay, have all your elements ready? Let’s do this. Crumble 2 of the meringues into the bottom of your serving bowl. Now alternate layers of whipped cream and your rhubarb mixture until you’ve used it all up. Crumble the final 1 or 2 meringues over the top. And serve! Don’t worry if it gets all mixed up as you scoop out a serving. After all, it’s called a mess for a reason.
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