Eton Mess is a traditional British dessert, made with meringues, cream and strawberries. Eton College, an all-boys school in Eton, England has been serving this dish for over 100 years to celebrate their annual cricket game against the pupils of Harrow School.
Nobody knows for sure why it’s called Eton Mess but you can kind of guess that it’s because it does look like a mess in the glass. Everything just gets mixed up together and served.
Table of Contents
Making a Mess
My great aunt called this a "dog's dinner of a dessert." But oh my, oh my! What a delicious mess this is.
Eton Mess is a great summer dessert and a favorite in Ireland. You can make it from scratch by following my trusty recipe.
Or you can make Eton Mess the easy way, by using store bought meringues. Simply crush them, and mix them with whipped fresh cream and sliced strawberries. That's a simple, no-fuss, delicious dessert for summer, or any time of year.
But perhaps, you would like to take Eton Mess to the next level of excellence and make every componenet homemade.
My recipe goes all out. The meringues are made from scratch. It's even all topped off with a delicious homemade strawberry coulis.
Sweet, delisious, and not too heavy, this is a perfect dessert to serve after a filling meal.
Ingredients for Eton Mess
Here's a quick list of ingredients for Eton Mess. You'll find a printable recipe at the bottom of this post with all of the quantities listed. You can toggle between US and Metric versions too.
And so, for Eton Mess you will need...
- egg whites
- white sugar (divided between the meringues and strawberry coulis)
- fresh strawberries
- heavy whipping cream
- powdered sugar (icing sugar in Ireland)
Directions for Making Eton Mess
Since we're making all the components of our Eton Mess from scratch this recipe has quite a number of steps, but I have included step-by-step photographic instructions to help you along the way.
Let's start by creating our meringues.
To Make the Meringues
Before getting started with separating the eggs, first remember to pre-heat the oven to 250 degrees F or 120 degrees C. Meringues are cooked at a very low heat, since the main function of the oven is to slowly dry out and not burn the sweetened whipped egg whites.
Also, it's a good idea to prepare your baking tray before whipping the egg whites. Line a large baking tray with parchment paper.
When you separate the eggs, make sure there are no traces of egg yolk left in the egg whites. You'll never achieve the stiff, glossy texture of meringue if there is a trace of yolk in the mixture.
Also be extra careful to make sure your bowl is spotlessly clean befor whipping the egg whites.
Using a stand mixer or hand-held beater whisk the egg whites in a clean bowl until they become thick and reach stiff peaks. The first egg white whipping is done without any sugar.
Add ⅓ of the sugar and beat again until the mixture becomes stiff and glossy.
Repeat two more times with the remainder of the sugar.
Spoon the mixture in mounds onto the baking sheet.
There is no need to pipe the meringues or worry about a fancy presentation since they will be crumbled for this mess of a dessert.
Bake the meringues on the lowest shelf of the oven for 1 hour and 15 minutes until they harden.
Leave them to cool completely.
To Make the Strawberry Sauce
Wash and hull the strawberries.
Add ⅓ of the strawberries to a food processor or blender with the additional white sugar.
Blitz to turn the mixture into a sauce.
Strain the sauce through a strainer to remove the seeds.
To Whip the Cream
Add the heavy whipping cream and powdered sugar to a large bowl.
Using an electric mixer, whisk the cream until it holds its shape.
To Assemble the Eton Mess
Roughly crush the meringues.
Leave chunks if possible.
Some of the crushed meringues will turn to crumbs and powder.
Reserve about one quarter of the meringues pieces and all the dust to use as a garnish. Nothing goes to waste in my kitchen.
Mix ¾ of the crushed meringue with the whipped cream.
Chop the remaining strawberries into pieces.
Blend approximately ¾ of the remaining strawberries gently through the cream and meringue mixture.
No need to worry if it looks like you have one big mess in your mixing bowl. That's what this dessert is all about.
Divide the meringue and cream mixture between 6 glass dessert bowls.
I always like to serve this dessert in glass serving dishes. It just highlights the mess.
You can leave the meringue mixture in a piled high dollop in each bowl, or you can level the top surface just as shown here.
Drizzle the top of each serving with the strawberry sauce. You can call this a strawberry coulis, if you like to get all fancy about your desserts.
Arrange the remaining strawberries on top as a garnish.
Finally, sprinkle the remaining meringue crumbs on top of each dessert for an extra messy finishing touch.
Simple, ever so messy but definitely elegant in every way - who doesn't love this English summertime treat.
Plus, the good news is that it is a light and refreshing ending to any meal.
Tips and Tricks for Making Eton Mess
For easy Eton Mess use store bought meringue shells rather than making meringues from scratch.
Eton Mess is best eaten within an hour of making. The mess just gets messier with time, so whip it together and serve straight away.
Traditionally this dessert is made with strawberries, but Eton Mess can also be made with other fruit such as blackberries or raspberries if strawberries are not available.
Blueberries can be used but their outer skins tend to be a little thicker than these other berries. They don't leach their inner juices into the meringue mix, so blueberries don't add to the mess as well as strawberries, raspberries and blackberries.
You can combine all three fruits, strawberries, raspberries and blackberries for a truly sublime Eton Mess.
Eton mess can also be eaten with a scoop of vanilla ice-cream. Eton Mess is best served in glass dishes or tall glasses to show off the colours and textures at their very best.
You can keep it loose and piled high in the glass, or you can fill the glass dishes and level the top surface, if you prefer. I love to drizzle strawberry coulis over the top.
Portion sizes will vary from person to person depending on appetite and how sweet your tooth might be. My recipe is for six servings but double or triple it up if you're cooking for a crowd.
If you've ever cooked a pavlova or meringues and they were a bit of a flop, then Eton Mess is the rescue recipe for you. It's a perfect way to use up a not so pretty meringue fiasco. Simply crush up the evidence and combine with fruit and cream. Nobody needs know anything about your kitchen failures.
Recipe Card for Eton Mess
Here's the printable recipe as promised with photographs included. You can choose whether to print it with or without photos.
For the Meringues
- 2 large egg whites
- ½ cup white sugar
For the Strawberry Coulis
- 8 ounces fresh strawberries
- 1 tablespoon white sugar
For the Eton Mess
- 16 ounces fresh strawberries
- 2 cups heavy whipping cream
- 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
To Make The Meringues
- Pre-heat oven to 250° F or 120° C. Line a large baking tray with parchment paper.
- Using a stand mixer or hand-held beater whisk the egg whites in a clean bowl until they become thick and reach stiff peaks. Add ⅓ of the sugar and beat again until stiff and glossy. Repeat two more times with the remainder of the sugar.
- Spoon the mixture in mounds onto the baking sheet. (There is no need to pipe the meringues or worry about presentation since they will be crumbled.) Bake the meringues on the lowest shelf of the oven for 1 hour and 15 minutes until they harden. Leave to cool completely.
To Make The Strawberry Coulis
- Wash and hull the strawberries. Add ⅓ of the strawberries to a food processor or blender with white sugar. Blitz to turn into a sauce.
- Drain the sauce through a strainer to remove the seeds.
To Whip The Cream
- Add the cream and powdered sugar to a large bowl. Using an electric mixer, whisk the cream until it holds its shape.
To Assemble The Eton Mess
- Roughly crush the meringues. Leave chunks. Some will turn to crumbs and powder. Reserve ¼ of the meringues and all the dust to use as a garnish.
- Mix ¾ of the crushed meringue with the whipped cream.
- Chop the remaining strawberries into pieces. Blend approximately ¾ of the remaining strawberries gently through the cream and meringue mixture.
- Divide the meringue and cream mixture between 6 glass dessert bowls.
- Drizzle the top of each serving with strawberry sauce and decorate with the remaining strawberries. Finally, sprinkle the remaining meringue crumbs on top of each dessert. Serve chilled.
Nutrition Information is estimated based on the ingredients and cooking instructions as described in each recipe and is intended to be used for informational purposes only. Please note that nutrition details may vary based on methods of preparation, origin and freshness of ingredients used.
This is a dish to share with family and friends, and often featured as our Sunday dessert, when I was a child growing up in Dublin. My mother called it 'meringue mush' rather than Eton Mess, but this English inspired dessert was often the star of our Sunday dinner menus.
Eton Mess a favorite dessert for summer days, especially when made with fresh Wexford strawberries. I can still taste the sweetness of Ireland's summertime produce. So much nicer than any strawberries I've ever purchased in the United States.
If you're a fan of no-bake desserts why not check out some of my other favorite sweet treats that are easy to make...
Thanks for following my recipes and ramblings.
Slán agus beannacht,
(Goodbye and blessings)
Mairéad -Irish American Mom
Pronunciation - slawn ah-gus ban-ock-th
Mairéad - rhymes with parade