August marks the zenith for berries with my local fruit store offering gooseberries, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, cherries and currants. August is also the last of summer months in Norway. So the best one can do is cherish August and make the most of it. Squeeze the last bits of summer. Light the barbecue. Go to the beach. Eat seafood. Stay up late. Wear sandals. Inhale the smell of cut grass. Fill your mouth with berries.
When the Norwegian strawberry season withers in late July, raspberries come to the rescue and prolong the feeling of summer. Raspberries are perfect in the British dessert Eton mess.
Eton mess is named after the public boarding school Eton and has traditionally been served at the annual cricket match between Eton and their archenemy, Harrow. The name also describes the way it is made, namely cream, berries and meringue messed together. The most traditional type of berries are strawberries, but raspberries are just as lovely and easier to mess up with just a fork.
Moreover, Eton mess is a handy dessert when you have leftover egg whites, which is the case if you happen to make ice cream, custard, béarnaise, mayonnaise or spaghetti carbonara. The meringue will keep in a box for at least a month.
Do allow the Eton mess to rest for an hour or two, letting the berries infuse the cream. But do not wait to much making the dessert. Before you know it you are sitting there sipping hot cocoa wondering how the summer days went by so fast.
Eton mess with raspberries (makes 3–4)
300 ml / 10 oz double or heavy cream
200 + 50 g raspberries
20 g sugar
6 big meringues
Meringue (makes 6 big meringues):
2 egg whites
90 g / 3,5 oz sugar
1. Start with the meringue. Preheat the oven to 130C/260F/Gas 1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Tip the egg whites in a clean bowl. Beat them on medium speed with an electric whisk for about a minute. Then continue whisking while you add the sugar, a spoon at a time, incorporating the sugar before you add the next spoon. Do not over-beat. When finished the mixture should be stiff enough to make “soft peaks”.
2. Scoop of a heaped spoon and with another spoon place the meringue on the baking sheet. Bake for 1 hour and 30 minutes. The meringues should be chewy on the inside and crispy on the outside. They will keep in an airtight tin for several weeks.
3. Wash the raspberries and smash 200 g roughly with a fork together with the sugar. The remaining raspberries should be used as garnish so cut them in half.
4. Break the meringue into large pieces, but reserve one for garnish.
5. Whip the double cream and fold the smashed berries carefully into the cream to make a marbled effect. Allow to set for an hour or two. This is not necessary, but it enhances the berry flavour.
6. Mix carefully the meringue into the berry cream. Spoon in individual serving bowls or one big serving bowl. Divide the halved berries on top and the last meringue smashed into dust.