This naturally gluten free dessert is a variation on the traditional “Eton Mess,” a dish that combines the delicate crunch of meringue cookies with the sweetness of fresh fruit and whipped cream.
This dish works well with any kind or combination of fruit, although it’s traditionally served with strawberries. Our twist is that we … wait for it … roast the strawberries until they’re reduced to a heavenly jammy goo, bathed in an intense strawberry sauce.
If you have time, bake the meringues the day before. That gives them enough time to fully dry and gives them an airy, crispy texture.
½ cup white sugar
1 tsp corn starch
Pinch cream of tartar
2 large egg whites
½ tsp vanilla
In a small bowl, whisk dry ingredients together. Place egg whites in a large mixing bowl. Using the whisk attachment on an electric mixer, beat eggs at medium speed. Continue whisking and begin to add dry ingredients, a little at a time, slowly increasing the speed.
Continue mixing at high speed until the meringue is glossy and forms stiff peaks, about 3 minutes. Test that the sugar has dissolved by rubbing a bit of the meringue between two fingers; if you can feel sugar granules, continue to whisk. When the sugar has all dissolved, add vanilla and mix until combined.
Drop four meringues by rough spoonfuls onto a parchment-lined cookie sheet. Don’t worry about making them too tidy! The peaks and valleys will make for crispier cookies. Bake at 250°F for 90 minutes.
When they are done, turn off the oven and open the oven door just slightly. Leave the meringues to cool gradually in the oven for at least two hours; if you can, leave them in the oven overnight to “cure.”
It’s a bit of a stretch to call this method “roasting” — after all, we’re using sugar, not oil, to flavour the berries, but whatever you call it, the end result is pure concentrated strawberry deliciousness.
1 lb (454 g) fresh strawberries
¼ cup sugar
½ tsp vanilla
Wash, hull and halve the berries. Place in a medium bowl, add sugar and vanilla and toss to coat.
Spread berry mixture out in a 9 x 13-inch baking dish. Bake at 300°F for 20-25 minutes. Cool, reserving the strawberry liquid.
1 cup heavy cream
4 tsp sugar
½ tsp vanilla
Pour cream into a large mixing bowl. Using the whisk attachment on an electric mixer, beat at medium-high speed. Gradually add sugar and beat until stiff peaks form. Add vanilla and whisk until combined.
To put it all together:
Crumble one meringue cookie into the bottom of each dessert dish or parfait glass. Place a few spoonfuls of strawberries on top, then a dollop of whipped cream. Add a strawberry for garnish and drizzle with the strawberry liquid.
Makes 4 servings
Need a drink to go with your dessert? Try this refreshing Watermelon Lemonade.