With Valentines Day fast approaching I wanted to take a traditional dessert and put a modern twist on it. Eton mess is traditionally made with strawberries and is lovely but I wanted to make it with chocolate, and hey why not it is Valentines Day after all and we all know it’s a free licence to eat chocolate!
From Scratch Meringues
Because this is a romantic dessert I wanted to make everything from scratch. If you are feeling the meringues are too much for you then use shop bought ones. But this meringue recipe is foolproof.
I tried a bunch of different ones swapped some things around added a little of this took a little of that out and now I have a simple, foolproof recipe which will give you a lovely crunchy meringue with a lovely soft marshmallow centre. Perfect every time and you can add any colour you like. I think the trick to these being so lovely is the fact the sugar is warmed up before adding it to your egg whites, I found it helps dissolve the sugar into everything so much better and therefore your meringues don’t weep sugar when baked. And the cornflour and lemon juice just help to give these their lovely marshmallowy centre.
Because I was going for a pink dessert I swirled a little pink colouring in my raw meringue to give it that lovely pink swirl look.
As well as using pink meringues I also coloured the cream pink. I whipped up some double (heavy) cream because I like the thicker cream it gives you. If you wanted your cream to be a little lighter you could always use whipping cream instead.
Added to all this pink madness I added pink smarties (not to be confused with American smarties which are fruit flavoured candies). Smarties are basically chocolate m&m’s (chocolate beans covered in a crunchy pink shell, just like m&m’s) but British and they had limited addition pink ones in the shop at the moment. But you could use any colour you wanted, I did spot some red Valentines special edition m&m’s in the shop the other day.
6 large meringues
This recipe is large enough to make 6 large meringue halves. I needed only 2 for the pink chocolate Eton mess but I don’t mind having the extra as I served them on the side with an extra bowl of pink cream!
You don’t have to make this dessert pink, you can make it any colour, why not choose your sweeties favourite colour instead?
So what dessert are you making this Valentines Day?
- 380 grams caster sugar (superfine), (2 cups)
- 6 medium egg whites
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon cornflour (cornstarch)
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice (or white wine vinegar
- ½ teaspoon pink food gel
- 240 millilitres double cream (heavy cream), (1 cup)
- A drop pink food gel
- 170 grams (1 large tube) pink smarties (or m&m's)
- Turn your oven on to 200C / 400F / Gas mark 6. Line a baking tray with parchment paper and pour your sugar on to it and pop it in your oven to warm up.
- Get another medium sized baking tray ready by covering it with baking parchment and place to one side.
- Add your egg whites to your stand-mixer bowl and slowly at first start to whisk them. Once bubbles start to appear then turn up the speed on your mixer until you have reached stiff peak stage and it is thick and shinny about 5 minutes.
- Turn your oven off and retrieve your sugar, it should be nicely warm at this stage.
- Pour half of it into your beaten egg whites and whisk for a minute or two until the mixture feels smooth between your fingers.
- Add your vanilla extract, cornflour (cornstarch) and lemon juice, whisk for a few seconds and then add your remaining sugar and whisk for a further 5 to 7 minutes until you have a stiff shinny smooth mixture. You are looking to have all the sugar dissolved into your egg whites.
- Turn your oven back on to 140C / 275F / Gas mark 1.
- Using a toothpick or something similar, dab it into your pink gel colour and swirl it into you meringue mixture.
- Spoon 6 meringues onto your baking sheet and shape into rounds with a peak on top.
- Pop them into your oven. After 1 hour turn your oven down to 130F / 250F / Gas mark ½ and continue to bake for a further 30 minutes.
- When the time is up go and check on your meringues, you are looking for them to easily peel away from the baking parchment if they are still a little stick give them another 10 minutes.
- Once baked take them off the parchment paper and allow them to fully cool on a wire rack.
- When you are ready to assemble your dessert pour the cream into a your mixing bowl and add your drop of food colouring, the more you add the more vibrant your colour will be. Whisk until your cream forms light peaks and is able to hold its shape.
- Take two of the meringues, and break them up into bits, take two wine glasses or your chosen serving dishes and put about a 3rd of the meringue in the bottom, then add a 3rd of the cream and them a 3rd of the chocolates and keep layering up until everything is used up then serve.
- The dessert needs to be eaten immediately but the meringues will keep in an airtight tin for 3 days in a cool temperature.