Raspberries are one of my favourite fruits. Not only are they great raw, in jam or baked into cakes and puddings; they freeze like a dream, so you can have a ripe, squashy taste of summer all year round.
Strawberries are the fruit traditionally used in Eton Mess, but at this time of year they’re very bland and prohibitively expensive. To be honest, I prefer the tart sweetness you get from raspberries anyway, so this isn’t a hardship. Using defrosted frozen raspberries in this dish will leave a lovely pink swirl in the cream. If you are using fresh raspberries, crush about a quarter of them for the same effect.
Eton Mess originated at Eton College in the 1930s, when something rather like it (a mixture of strawberries and bananas with whipped cream or ice cream) was sold in the school tuck shop. It’s evolved into a lovely flopsome, light desert punctuated with shards of meringue, crisp and chewy all at once. In the spirit of making a very quick, easy dessert, I’ve used supermarket meringue nests – you can make your own if you prefer.
To serve six, you’ll need:
1 pint double cream
1 lb raspberries
8 meringue nests (Waitrose and Marks and Spencer carry meringue nests which are ideal for this – crunchy on the outside with a soft give in the centre)
Crumble the meringues into bite-sized chunks with your hands. Whip the cream into soft peaks and fold in the raspberries and crumbled meringue. Spoon into serving bowls and decorate with a few spare raspberries (sometimes you’ll find mint leaves dressing an Eton Mess – I prefer mine mint-free). Serve immediately.
We ate our Eton Mess with an accompanying glass of Framboise liqueur. I’d planned to fold it into the dessert, but it was so very, very nice that a corporate decision was made among those dining to drink it instead. I think we made the right choice.