When life hands you lemons, make lemonade. And when poor judgement in the kitchen gives you runny pavlova, turn it into something else.
At least that’s what I did yesterday. I tried to make a chocolate pavlova, which is a pillow of meringue baked until the outside is crisp while the inside stays soft and chewy. Topped with whipped cream and strawberries, it was going to be gorgeous and decadent. Only I think I pulled it out of the oven too soon and under the crisp exterior was an oozing mess.
Instead of tossing it all in the trash, I decided to get creative. Eton Mess to the rescue!
What is Eton Mess? It’s a combination of crushed meringues, whipped cream, and strawberries, named for the English school that made the dessert famous. I already had all of the ingredients, and since my pavlova was a crumbly mess it seemed like a no-brainer.
In about five minutes I had little glass dishes filled with messy mounds of chocolate meringues, juicy strawberries and vanilla scented whipped cream. They were delicious, decadent but still light, and my dinner guests had no idea that I had planned on serving them anything else.
The recipe for the chocolate meringues below is a tried and true recipe, and not the same one I used for the (failed) pavlova, so don’t worry.
Tips for Whipping Meringue
- Make sure your bowl and whisk are completely clean and dry.
- Eggs at room temperature whip more easily.
- Separate your eggs carefully so that no yolk is mixed with the whites. The yolk contains fat which will hinder volume.
- Add the sugar very gradually once the egg whites have foamed.
- Bake immediately, the meringue will deflate over time.
A light and easy dessert made of crushed meringues, whipped cream, and juicy strawberries. Perfect for any summer table.
To make the meringues:
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line sheet pan with parchment paper.
- In the heatproof bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together the egg whites and sugar. Set over a saucepan of simmering water, making sure the bottom of the bowl doesn’t touch the water. Whisk frequently until sugar is dissolved. I tested with my fingers to make sure all sugar granules were dissolved.
- Return the bowl to the stand mixer and beat on high speed with the whisk attachment until meringue is stiff and glossy, about 5 minutes. Sift the cocoa powder over the meringue, add the chopped chocolate, and gently fold together with a spatula until incorporated.
- Scoop out onto the prepared sheet pans in rounded tablespoons, about 2 inches apart. Baking 2 sheet pans at a time, bake for 8 minutes then rotate pans and bake for an additional 8 minutes, until meringues are puffed and cracked. Let cool completely.
To prepare the strawberries:
- Toss together the strawberries and sugar and let sit for at least 15 minutes until juices develop.
To make the whipped cream:
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat the heavy cream until thickened. Add the sugar slowly while continuing to whisk, followed by the vanilla. Beat to soft peaks.
To make the Eton mess:
- Crush the cooled meringue cookies and fold into the whipped cream with the strawberries and their juices. Spoon into individual dishes and garnish with more strawberries and chopped chocolate, if desired.
Note: This dessert is best served within a few hours of assembly. If preparing far in advance, store the meringues, whipped cream, and strawberries separately and only combine just before serving.