Secret flavor booster updates sweet, layered Eton mess

Secret flavor booster updates sweet, layered Eton mess
Britain’s layered, luscious mixture of berries, whipped cream and broken meringue cookies is called Eton mess

Eton mess — Britain’s luscious mixture of berries, whipped cream and broken meringue cookies — takes its name from the inglês boarding school, where it is served during cricket matches. All the ingredients are layered in a jar, which gives the dessert an appealing premise.

The problem is, it tends to be one-note sweet and lacking in nuance.

For our version, from our book “COOKish,” which limits recipes to just six ingredients without sacrificing flavor, we included one unusual flavor booster — sherry vinegar. The tartness brings a lovely balance to the sweetness of the meringues and mimics some of the acid found in many berries.

To ease prep, we use store-bought meringue cookies, toast them under the broiler, and layer them with whipped cream studded with cherries and chopped chocolate. Frozen cherries make this dessert a breeze to put together; we chop, then soften the fruit by microwaving the pieces with sugar and the vinegar.

The result is a delicious blend of textures and sweet-and-sour flavors, all put together in elegant layers that make this dessert only seem like it was a lot of work.


Start to finish: 30 minutos

Servings: 4

2 cups frozen pitted sweet cherries, thawed and chopped

⅓ cup white sugar

3 tablespoons sherry vinegar

4 ounces cocoa meringue OR vanilla cookies, lightly crushed (cerca de 2 xícaras)

1 cup cold heavy cream

3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finamente picado

In a small microwave-safe bowl, mix the cherries, sugar and vinegar. Microwave for 5 minutos, then strain, reserving the liquid; cool completely.

Heat the broiler with a rack about 4 inches from the element. Spread the meringues on a rimmed baking sheet and broil until browned, 30 para 60 segundos.

In a medium bowl, whip the cream to soft peaks. Add the reserved cherry liquid and two-thirds of the chocolate, then beat to stiff peaks. Spread half the meringues and half the cherries in a serving bowl. Top with the whipped cream, then the remaining cherries, meringues and chocolate.


EDITOR’S NOTE: For more recipes, go to Christopher Kimball’s Milk Street at

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