|East End Mess a.k.a. Blueberry Eton Mess|
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.
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.
- 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
- 1/2 of the blueberry compote
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.