Eton Mess. What a name for a dessert. Something that only the British could come up with. Furthermore, something only a man could come up with. What do you get when you combine strawberries, cream, meringue and posh British school boys…..? Eton Mess, of course. The story I’ve been told is that the boys at Eton (a terribly, terribly posh boys school in England – think Prince William & Harry…) would smash together their bowl full of meringue, strawberries and cream, creating a rather unattractive mess. Hence the name. More interesting speculation about the origins here….
As you are all hopefully aware, last week was the Queens’ Diamond Jubilee. Put simply, this means it has been 60 years since she became the Queen. So please be prepared to see a few patriotic posts on here. I have been somewhat absent from my blog because my Mum (note, not Mom) was here for the week. We had a great time together which included throwing a Jubilee themed dinner party for a group of my friends. Each course had to feature one traditionally British ingredient. For dessert I chose to showcase strawberries as they are something my sisters and I consume copious amounts of during the summer. I wanted to try to create an Eton Mess that is slightly more presentable than the traditional version. My passion for cheesecake led me to wonder whether I could combine the two… This is my attempt at doing so. I have to say, I surprised myself – it was extremely yummy!
It was a pretty long-winded process (by my standards) but worth it for a special occasion.
Eton Mess Cheesecake
- 1 packet of hob nobs (you could use graham crackers or whatever else you have available)
- 2 tbsp butter, melted
- 1 pound of fresh or frozen strawberries, washed and chopped
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 envelope unflavoured gelatin
- 1 pound cream cheese, at room temperature
- 1/2 cup powdered sugar
- 1/2 vanilla bean (just the seeds!)
- 1 1/4 cups strawberry topping (see above)
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- Handful of fresh strawberries, sliced for garnish
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 3 large egg whites, room temperature
- 3 tablespoons cold water
- 1 teaspoon distilled white vinegar
- Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees F.
- Smash up hob nobs, or whatever you are using for you base. This is a great way to release tension, so I recommend doing it by hand rather than using a food processor.
- Pour in melted butter, and press into base of your chosen cheesecake dish. Ideally a springform pan.
- Place in the oven for 5 minutes, then set aside. Turn oven down to 300 degrees F to prepare for the meringues.
- Place the strawberries, sugar, and 2 tablespoons of water in a pan. Cook over medium heat until the strawberries are quite soft. Puree fruit in a blender, leave a gap for the hot air to escape!
- Return puree to the pot to finish cooking.
- Sprinkle the gelatin over 2 tablespoons of cold water in a small bowl and pour into the strawberries and gently cook over low heat.
- Whisk until the gelatin is completely dissolved. Remove from heat. Reserve 3/4 cup of the strawberry mixture for the top layer of the cake.
- In your pink KitchenAid mixer, beat the cream cheese and sugar on medium-low speed, using the paddle attachment, until smooth. Add the vanilla bean seeds. Incorporate the strawberry topping, except the 3/4 cup you have reserved for the top layer.
- In a separate bowl whip the cream until it sits in peaks.
- Gently fold the whipped cream into the strawberry cheesecake batter until it is all combined.
- Pour the cheesecake over the cooled base and tap the pan gently on the counter to bring any air bubbles to the surface. Let it sit, uncovered, in the refrigerator for about 2 hours or until it is set to the touch.
- Once the cheesecake is set, pour the remaining 3/4 cup strawberry topping over it.
- Put the cheesecake back in the fridge, uncovered, for another 30 minutes, or until the topping is set.
- At this point it is ready to serve or you can cover the cheesecake with plastic and it can sit in the refrigerator for 24 hours.
- Before unlocking the springform pan, run a knife around the edge of the cheesecake to loosen it.
- Top with the fresh strawberries and meringues.
- Pre-heat oven to 300°F with rack in middle. Place a sheet of parchment paper on a baking tray and set aside.
- Whisk together superfine sugar and cornstarch in a small bowl.
- Beat whites with a pinch of salt using an electric mixer at medium speed until they hold soft peaks.
- Add water (whites will loosen) and beat until whites again hold soft peaks.
- Increase speed to medium-high and beat in sugar mixture 1 tablespoon at a time. After all sugar has been added, beat 1 minute more.
- Add vinegar and beat at high-speed until meringue is glossy and holds stiff peaks, about 5 minutes (longer if using hand-held mixer).
- I chose to pipe the meringue mixture into little swirls on the baking tray. You can do whatever you think will look pretty, but make them small so you can pile on top of the cheesecake.
This resulted in one of the best non chocolate desserts I have ever made. Long live the Queen.