I have a confession to make, I don't like meringue.
I know, I know, I should just hand in my passport now, how dare I not like meringue, what about pavlova! What about baked alaska! Roulade, lemon meringue pie, the list goes on. I just don't really like it, it makes my mouth dry and I subside into coughing fits and it feels weird.
This does cause somewhat of an issue for me, as I love the idea of Eton Mess. It has strawberries (love!) it has whipped cream (double love!) and it has meringue (uh-oh). Thus you can understand my conundrum. In sidles Italian Meringue, waving from the wings.
Though far from typical for Eton mess, I can totally get down with the idea of Italian Meringue, it is basically a big blob of melted marshmallow, that stays melted, who wouldn't like that? And so, after the longest excuse in history, came Eton tidy, Eton mess that is still a bit messy as it gets a bit sticky, but is much better artfully arranged before being devoured, and it is bliss!
I warn you now, this isn't the simplest of recipes (when are egg whites ever simple) and involves pouring hot syrup into a mixer that is switched to a high speed, I would not recommend making this without a stand mixer unless you have a. A helper and b. very strong arms, or a helper to tag team with, as you have to whip this stuff for a good 15 minutes at least.
On that note...
You will need:
- 150g of egg whites, this was around 4 medium sized eggs for me.
- 300g Caster sugar
- 25g Liquid glucose
- 100ml of Pimm's No1 Cup
- 1 tbsp of Granulated sugar
- Cream for whipping, I used double because why not.
To make some Eton Tidy:
:: Put your caster sugar, liquid glucose and 65ml of cold water into a small heavy bottomed saucepan and put it on a medium heat to melt. Once warm enough to mix, give it a stir. Once fully combined, turn up the heat and using a sugar thermometer wait until the syrup reaches 100 degrees C.
:: While your syrup is getting up to temperature put your egg whites in your mixer and start whisking them until stiff, as soon as your syrup reaches 115 degrees, turn down your mixer to a medium speed and slowly pour the hot syrup into the egg whites. Turn the speed back up, and keep whisking until the egg whites are completely cooled, this took around 20-25 minutes for me.
:: As you wait for your egg whites to cool, find yourself another small pan and pour in your Pimm's and tablespoon of sugar. Put this on the hob on a very low heat, we just want to simmer off the alcohol here and make a slightly sweeter syrup. If you want it to be boozey feel free to just use straight up Pimm's.
:: Once your Pimm's syrup has been simmering for around 10 minutes give it a taste and take it off the heat to cool for a bit. Hull and chop your strawberries. Once the syrup has come down to room temperature, pour over the strawberries to infuse.
:: Whip your cream. Resist feeding it to the cat.
:: By now your egg whites should be cool. I kept holding the bowl to get an idea of temperature and then sticking my finger into a bit to see how it was doing. If still warm, keep the whisking up.
:: Once it is cool, it is time to either try and pipe the stuff (it's hard!) or just dollop it on to a piece of greaseproof. Now you can go two ways with the next step, you can use a cooks torch to toast the outside like I did, or you can put the meringues under a really hot grill for the same effect. There are mixed opinions on how best to finish off Italian meringue, so I will let you decide.
:: Once the meringues are holding together and not melting, carefully arrange all of your elements in a bowl and tuck in. Ice cream is optional.
Let me know if you give this a go, I think it is going to be my new staple for summer weekends spent in the garden :)