June 28th, 2012
I know, I know. I often say that recipes are easy. Guilty as charged. But I have a defense.
Most of my recipes are easy. Because like (most ) of you, I’m building a repertoire of recipes that can be made in the limited time that I have to throw dinner together, with kids hanging on me or whining (which is surprisingly distracting). The only difference between you and me is that I’m developing my recipes from scratch and then, of course, testing them so that you don’t have to.
My point is that while I’m a food writer and a recipe developer, I’m also a mom who has to sling dinner like the rest of you. I believe in slow cooking—and think that you should, too—but it has a time and a place. What you see here, on my personal blog, is a reflection of what we eat in my personal house. (As opposed to my impersonal one?) So, yea, it’s mostly easy. And, even with that, this dessert takes the cake.
That’s right, I’m saying it: Eton mess might be the easiest dessert ever.
Okay, I may also be guilty of
exaggeration hyper enthusiasm. But, seriously, here’s what you need:
Meringues. You read correctly. And, it’s true that making them from scratch does not qualify as the “easiest ever” anything. But buying them at the store does.
You know that I don’t often push for packaged store-bought items, but meringues are basically egg whites and sugar. They are easy to find without yucky stuff added (though you’d be surprised—always check the label first). I got meringues that worked beautifully at Trader Joe’s.
Whipped cream is next and, since we’re on the topic of store-bought, I encourage you to avoid ready made whipped cream. It doesn’t taste as good and it’s shockingly hard to find one that isn’t packed with bizarre ingredients. So grab heavy or whipping cream and get to work. It takes no time and can be made hours ahead, which means this recipe still legitimately qualifies as super easy. (I’m sticking to my guns on this one.)
Then strawberries. Fresh ones. Wash, hull, quarter. Done.
See? I told you! Even when you make your own whipped cream, this qualifies as the easiest dessert ever. Or at least one of them. After all, I was introduced to it while camping and, if you ask me, anything that comes together 1-2-3 while camping deserves a dignified distinction. And doesn’t being called easy qualify?
PS: This is a great recipe for a Fourth of July party. Get patriotic and throw in some blueberries. Bam!
(can be shared with kids 12+ mos)*
1 pint heavy or whipping cream
Dash vanilla extract (optional)
1 pint fresh strawberries, washed, hulled & quartered
6-8 meringue cookies, depending on size (1 1/2-2 per person), broken into bite-size pieces
1. Add cream and vanilla, if using, to a chilled, non-reactive bowl. Using a whisk or an electric mixer, beat cream until it holds soft, but firm peaks (i.e., is the consistency of whipped cream). Be careful not to over whip or it will appear curdled. You can make whipped cream up to 4 hours ahead of time; store in refrigerator before using.
2. In a large bowl, combine whipped cream, strawberries and meringue pieces. Carefully fold cream until all of the ingredients are well combined. Divide into 4 bowls and serve.
*Note: While there is nothing in this that is unsafe for younger kids (even the strawberries!), I recommend this starting at 12 months due to the relatively high sugar content. No matter with whom you share this, be sure to serve age-approrpriate portions. A little of this sweet treat goes a long way with little eaters!