East End Mess a.k.a. Blueberry Eton Mess

Sunday, April 28, 20136comments

East End Mess a.k.a. Blueberry Eton Mess
East End Mess a.k.a. Blueberry Eton Mess
Today's recipe is inspired by Eton Mess, a very well known dessert in the UK. Legend has it that many years ago it began as a strawberry pavlova that was brought along to the annual cricket match and picnic at the famous boys school, Eton College. The story goes that a rambunctious Labrador sat on the picnic basket containing that much anticipated pavlova but the picnickers ate it anyway and Eton Mess was born. I'm not sure that I believe a word of that story but the telling of it has been enjoyed for decades.

The original recipe uses slow baked, harder textured meringues which bake at a low temperature for several hours. Instead of those more time consuming meringues and borrowing from the origin story, I start my version by making a simple meringue pavlova, which I think gives the same flavor with much better melt-in-your-mouth texture.

The "east end" part of the name is my tongue in cheek way of paying homage to the original dish but with a local twist. I do live in the east end of St. John's, near historic Signal Hill where, in late summer, you can wander the hill picking the best wild blueberries in the world. I turned some of those blueberries into a quick cooked compote which gets swirled through whipped cream, layered with broken pieces of pavlova then topped with more blueberry compote.

The kids and our dinner guests absolutely loved this simple, luscious dessert with more than one asking for seconds. A slight word of caution; this is not a make ahead dessert. It is meant to be prepared and enjoyed in the same day, preferably within a few hours of preparation. Left for overnight for example, the meringue pavlova would begin to dissolve and lose its crunchy, slightly chewy, melt-in-your-mouth texture. The recipe is also quite large and would serve about 10 people, so making only half the recipe is a good option if you are serving only a few people. Be careful though, once your diners get their first mouthful of this amazing dessert, they may well be asking for seconds.

Serves 10-12

Begin by preparing a pavlova.

Preheat oven to 250 degrees F.
  • 4 large egg whites, at room temperature
  • 1 cup fine granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
Whip the egg whites and vanilla to soft peaks and gradually add the sugar slowly, whipping until the sugar is completely dissolved. Pinch the meringue between your fingertips to feel that all of the sugar granules have completely dissolved. Sprinkle the meringue with
  • 4 tsp corn starch
  • 1 tsp white vinegar
Fold in the corn starch and vinegar gently with a rubber spatula. This step helps a crisp crust to form on the meringue. Drop the meringue onto a parchment paper lined baking sheet and spread it out into a 9 inch circle.

Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until small cracks appear in the meringue. Turn off the oven, leave the door ajar and allow the pavlova to cool completely in the oven.

Blueberry Compote
  • 4 cups blueberries (fresh or frozen)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ¼ cup water
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons corn starch
Bring the berries and sugar to a gentle boil. Mix the corn starch with the water and add slowly to the boiling berry mixture stirring constantly. Boil gently for 1 additional minutes stirring constantly. Cool completely.
Whip to firm peaks: 
  • 3 cups whipping cream
  • 4 rounded tablespoons powdered sugar (icing sugar)
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
Gently fold in:
  • 1/2 of the blueberry compote
There is no need to fully fold in the compote. Leaving streaks of compote ribboned through the whipped cream is desirable.

To put the dessert together, simply cut the pavlova into 2 or 3 inch pieces and layer the pieces alternately with the whipped cream and compote mixture. A trifle dish as pictured, works well. Finish the dessert by adding the remaining blueberry compote on top of the dessert.
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+ comments + 6 comments

April 30, 2013 at 2:56 AM

Can you tell me what the vinegar does...is it the ph level that helps it to crisp the meringue? If so, could I just use acidic water?

April 30, 2013 at 9:48 PM

This looks absolutely, droolingly delicious! I've made Eton Mess with the traditional strawberries but I've got to make this with my lovely wild Newfoundland blueberries frozen from last summer. The only drawback to this recipe is that unless we have company I'll eat the whole thing spoonful by spoonful during the day! Must go plan a dinner party. :)

May 4, 2013 at 7:29 AM

Marysue, the vinegar and cornstarch provide the crackle crust and prevent the center from hardening.

May 4, 2013 at 7:32 PM

Oh yum! I love pavlova and will no doubt love this! And I love the idea of displaying it a trifle stand. You can see all the beautiful layers :)

May 6, 2013 at 11:09 PM

Your food looks delicious I love your site.

May 15, 2013 at 7:08 PM

Made this about a couple weeks ago, but the whipped cream lost its whip before I could eat much of it (it's quite the sugar overload!). Rather than toss the resulting soup out, I threw the whole leftover mess into an ice cream machine, and ended with some rather tasty blueberry ice cream with marshmallow-like chunks.

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