I’m a late strawberry person….at least I prefer the late strawberries with their incredible sweetness and improving flavour as time goes on. That doesn’t mean that I don’t continually compare as the season goes on…it just means I’m happier eating them ‘as they come’ later in the season and feel like doing something to them earlier in the season. So I got the strawberry bug today with the improved weather and decided to make a variation on the theme of ‘Eton Mess’, or is that ‘Eatin’ Mess’?!!
My friend, Regina, made a lovely orange curd- filled meringue roulade for us at a dinner party during the winter. Since I’ve been making Carbonara sauce for the ‘Danette’s Magic’ range, I also have an abundance of egg whites, so meringue was the obvious choice, and came to mind when I was thinking of what I would do with this punnet of strawberries. I also had some very ripe fresh peaches to hand and a few fresh raspberries. A tub of mascarpone was in the fridge, some fresh cream, and some mint in the garden, so this is the concoction I made. Hit the spot nicely, I have to say. Any variation goes with a ‘mess’, so feel free to experiment.
For the Meringue: 8 large egg whites, 16 ounces caster sugar
Heat the oven to 125 degrees C fan oven/150 C/300 F/gas mark 2. Line a Baking Tray with baking parchment and place the egg whites in a large mixing bowl. Beat with an electric mixer until foamy, add half the sugar and beat until stiff, then gradually add the remaining sugar. Beat until absolutely erect peaks form!! Spread into the baking tray and bake in the oven for 1 hour. Allow to cool.
For the orange/lemon curd: (Orange curd would have been too sweet for me, so I did half orange half lemon…the lemon brought out the flavour of the strawberries and provided a tartness greatly needed with all the sugar present in this recipe).
Rind of 1 lemon and 4 fluid ounces of lemon juice; Rind of 1 orange and 4 fl. ounces orange juice. ; 5 ounces caster sugar, 4 large eggs, 4 ounces unsalted butter
Making curd is a bit of a pain, so have a book handy (you’ll read a good few pages whilst stirring the stuff…always seems like a good idea to make curd until you start making it!!). Lots of recipes will tell you to whisk the eggs with the sugar, then add the juice, etc. Just toss it all into a heatproof bowl and whisk it together, put it over a pan of simmering water and start stirring until the butter is melted . Then stir frequently or it might curdle (and read your novel). When it coats the back of a wooden spoon thickly, take the bowl off the pan of water and let it cool. (Go finish your chapter or book).
I took 1/3 cup (rougly 2.5 fl. ozs.) of the curd and whisked it with 1/4 cup (2 oz) of mascarpone
I had 4 small peaches, a handful of fresh raspberries and a handful of strawberries. I peeled the peaches and removed the stones, then put the peaches with the other fruit in a hand mixer and pureed with a squeeze of lemon juice. I will refer to this as coulis. (You can press this through a sieve if you don’t like raspberry pips sticking in your teeth). That may also need sugar, but be modest as the meringues basically are sugar…you won’t need it, in fact you’ll want the tartness.
If we were having guests, I would layer this in nice martini glasses or a beautiful glass bowl or some such, but we weren’t…in fact, David wasn’t even here, he’s conducting a rehearsal with the Guinness Choir, so he has a treat when he gets home! So what I did was layer it in a pyrex bread loaf dish. You can see what I did and it’s grand for us.
So I took the meringue and put a third of it, crumbled in the base of the dish. I then placed the curd/mascarpone mix on top of that (lovely richness to that layer, by the way), then some sliced strawberries, then some coulis.
I Then put another third of the meringue into the vanilla cream and spread that on top of the strawberries, then a layer of the orange/lemon curd, then more coulis and I finished with fresh strawberries. (I leave the hulls in the strawberries because I like to eat with my fingers….if the hulls are on, people have license to eat, somewhat, with their fingers!!).
When you present the ‘Mess’ break some more of the remaining meringue onto the bottom of the plate, that way you will still have texture if the rest has gone into total heavenly mush, place a heaped spoon on top of the crumbled meringue and serve with more curd and coulis. Oh yeah, don’t forget the fresh mint!!