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A quintessentially English dessert with an Indian twist

Not many desserts spell summer like Eton Mess. Crunchy meringue, whipped cream and strawberry sauce is a winning combination, best served al fresco. And it’s one that can be prepped in advance and then assembled when ready to eat. Children love joining in at this stage too – prepping – and eating that is.

The meringue can be bought but why when they’re SO easy to make and much nicer homemade I think, with a marshmallowy centre, rather than the brittle overly sweet shop bought version. It always makes me smile when I make meringue because when I was young I didn’t even know what they were, let alone how to pronounce meringue. I used to read it in my Enid Blyton books as Mering-yoo. And how was I to know any different? A dessert made with egg whites didn’t feature in my indian diet growing up. Having said that, my British mother in law who was a little girl during the war, said that she pronounced them Meringyoo as a child as well. Eggs were rationed in the war so things like Meringue were a luxury she didn’t know until after the war had ended. So there you go.

Recipe

4 large egg whites

240g castor sugar

500g strawberries, hulled and chopped

500g rasberries

500ml double cream

  1. Heat oven to 120C/100C fan/gas 1 and line a large baking tray with parchment paper.
  2. Whisk the egg whites in a clean bowl using an electric whisk or tabletop mixer until they reach stiff peaks, then add the sugar in 3 lots, re-whisking to stiff peaks every time.
  3. Then place bowl over childs head. If beaten egg whites don’t fall onto said child’s head, you’re on the right track! See pic above. My son loves this bit.
  4. Spoon dollops of the mixture onto the baking parchment, cook on the bottom shelf of the oven for 1hr – 1hr15 mins until the meringues are completely hard and come off the paper easily. Leave to cool.
  5. Blitz 1/3 of the strawberries to make a strawberry sauce. In a large bowl whisk the cream with the icing sugar until it just holds its shape.
  6. Don’t overwhisk or the cream will get too thick and dry, it needs to still be a bit creamy and wet. Don’t place this bowl over child’s head!
  7. Roughly crush ¾ of the meringyoo and tip them in with the chopped strawberries and stir, then swirl through the strawberry sauce.
  8. Dollop into bowls then crush the remaining meringues, sprinkling the pieces over the top and garnish with chopped peppermint.

For the twist I add a bit of rosewater to the cream and the strawberry sauce. I actually had this in Dishoom – a 1930s Bombay style cafe in London, and it works. A hark back to the days of the Raj I think, when the memsahibs brought this British pud recipe to India and the servants gave it a heady scent of rose by adding a dash of rosewater.

You can, if you like, also add blueberries, mango, passion fruit or kiwi fruit chopped up. My kids love decorating their meringue with an assortment of fruit.

A very sociable pudding if you have guests as you can rope them or their kids into decorating the meringue!

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