What to eat this month

Blackberry Eton Mess

Serves 6

What you need

  • 500g blackberries
  • 40g caster sugar
  • Juice of 1⁄2 lemon
  • 50ml cold water
  • 284ml carton double cream

For the meringues:

  • 4 large egg whites
  • 225g caster sugar

Directions

Preheat the oven to 150ºC (300ºF, Gas Mark 2) and line a large baking sheet with baking paper.

For the meringues, whisk the egg whites in a large bowl using electric beaters or a hand whisk until they form soft peaks. They are whisked enough when you can turn the bowl upside down without them sliding out. Next, add the sugar, a tablespoon at a time, whisking well between each addition until it is all incorporated. The meringue should look really thick and glossy at this point, like a handful of gentleman’s shaving foam.

Drop 12 large spoonfuls of the meringue on to the baking sheet, spacing well apart. Place in the oven, reduce the temperature to 130ºC (250ºF, Gas Mark ½) and bake for 1¾ hours until the meringues are crisp. Turn off the oven and leave them to cool with the door shut.

To make the blackberry purée, place 200g of the blackberries in a small pan with the caster sugar, lemon juice and cold water. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and leave to simmer gently for about 10 minutes until they are very soft, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat and purée using a stick blender until smooth. Leave to cool.

To assemble the Eton Mess, very softly whip the cream until it is just holding its own. Roughly break six of the meringues into a large bowl; avoid the temptation of crushing them tightly in one hand like a movie thug powdering a snooker ball in his fist. You want the pieces to be quite large, not dust. Add the cream and blackberries.

Fold loosely together using a large spoon, adding the blackberry sauce over the top.

© Valentine Warner 2010