This Strawberry and Raspberry Eaton Mess (my gluten-free, vegan take on the rather posh Strawberry and Raspberry Eton Mess!) is my desert island dessert. Ripe, sweet, plump strawberries, tart raspberries with crispy, light ‘meringue’ all pulled together under a duvet of vegan cream. What is not to like??? Who knew that one day we would work out how to make vegan meringue? I am very happy about the discovery – meringue was one of the few things I missed and I had just resigned myself to not eating it again and got on with life. This is not the sort of thing you would eat everyday but it’s a pretty cool birthday or special-day treat.
Vegan cream came about in the mid-20th century when post-World War II many ‘staples’ (dairy included) were not available due to rationing. There were some ingenious developments in cooking and baking (e.g. margarine) and one of the by-products of the ingenuity is vegan cream.
Strawberry and Raspberry Eaton Mess is easy to medium to make. You will need an electric whisk to mix the chickpea juice. It is too hard by hand. You will still be at it at midnight! An electric whisk is also useful to make the vegan cream.
Strawberry and Raspberry Eaton Mess is a special treat anytime you deserve it. Serve with Lavender Ice Cream if you want to be really indulgent!
Allergy Information – Strawberry and Raspberry Eaton Mess
Strawberry and Raspberry Eaton Mess is gluten-free and vegan as well as… celery free, coconut free, garlic free, lupin free, mustard free, nightshade free, onion free, peanut free, sesame free, soya free, tree nut free.
Top Tips – Strawberry and Raspberry Eaton Mess
I prefer chickpeas in water only (no brine or salt added) but you can use either. The chickpea juice is sometimes called aquafaba. You can make your own if you are soaking and boiling chickpea for houmous for example. A much cheaper and more environmentally friendly option.
Depending on when you make this you can use other seasonal fruit. Eaton Mess works very well with almost any ripe fruit. You can also use frozen fruit (thawed).
When making the ‘meringue’ it is really important to beat it until it is really stiff, and then beat it some more. The ‘meringue’ should hold its shape completely and not move at all when the bowl is shaken. This can take quite some time. It is also really important you do not open the door when cooking the ‘meringue’. It will sink and go sticky if you do. If you are going to store the ‘meringue’ you must store it in an air-tight container. However, you should not store it for long at all as it will absorb moisture quickly. I recommend eating the ‘meringue’ pretty quickly after cooking.
It is also important that you do not bake the ‘meringue’ on greaseproof paper. The ‘meringue’ will drop and disintegrate when you take them out of the oven. I don’t know why but they do!
When making the vegan cream filling use an electric whisk to beat the margarine, it will be a lot quicker.
Recipe – Strawberry and Raspberry Eaton Mess
Difficulty easy to medium
Preparation time 15 minutes
Cooking time 2 hours
Ingredients – Strawberry and Raspberry Eaton Mess – Meringue
Juice from 2x 400 gram tins of chick peas (~300 millilitres of juice)
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
250 grams granulated (or caster) sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Ingredients – Strawberry and Raspberry Eaton Mess – Vegan Cream and Strawberry and Raspberry Filling
1.5 tablespoons cornflour
125 millilitres non-dairy milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon agave syrup (optional or sweetener of your choice)
60 grams margarine
450 grams fresh strawberries and raspberries (in your choice of proportion)
2 tablespoons sugar (optional)
Method – Strawberry and Raspberry Eaton Mess – Meringue
1. Preheat the oven to 100 C (fan)
2. In a clean bowl place the chickpea juice and whisk until it doubles in size and becomes foamy (like shaving foam). This should take two to five minutes depending on the power of your whisk
3. Add the cream of tartar and whisk, then slowly add the sugar and continue to whisk
4. Keep whisking until the mixture becomes very glossy and stiff and it holds its shape (you can try the trick where you turn the bowl upside down and the mixture stays there). It will quadruple is size (at least)
5. Place baking parchment or grease-proof paper on to two large baking sheets and draw a circle approximately 25 centimetres in diameter on the underside of the grease-proof paper
6. You can use a piping bag to create two large nests or simply use a spoon to make large discs with slightly sunken centres
7. Bake in the oven for two hours. Do not open the door. After two hours turn off the oven and leave the nest to cool in the oven for at least an hour. Preferably until completely cool.
Method – Strawberry and Raspberry Eaton Mess – Vegan Cream and Strawberry and Raspberry Filling
1. Make the cream filling whilst the ‘meringue’ is cooking. Add the cornflour to a small pan and add the non-dairy milk slowly to slake the cornflour. Mix well to ensure there are no lumps. Add the vanilla extract and agave syrup (if using) and place on a medium heat. Stir gently and constantly until the mixture thickens. Remove from heat and cool quickly by placing the bottom of the pan in a bowl of cold water
2. Place the margarine in a mixing bowl and beat until smooth and soft. Slowly add the cornflour mixture a little at a time and beat until you have a rich, smooth, creamy consistency. If it seems a too thick add a little more non-dairy milk. Chill until required
3. Hull and slice the strawberries and place in a bowl with the raspberries. Sprinkle with sugar and place in the fridge until required
4. Assemble the Strawberry and Raspberry Eaton Mess. Take the ‘cream’ mixture and three-quarters of the strawberries and raspberries and mix in a large bowl until they are all incorporated. Lightly crumble one and a half of the ‘meringue discs’ into the bowl and carefully mix. Place the mixture into a serving bowl and scatter with the remaining ‘meringue’ and fruit.
5. Serve and eat quickly.
NB: When I first started my ‘vegan meringue’ escapades I had a few issues with my ‘meringue’ turning to goo in the oven. This seems to be down to a number of different factors: not being whipped enough, chickpea juice has bits in it, chickpea juice is too watery, pH is wrong, baked on greaseproof paper… However I found that the issue was either not enough whipping or using greaseproof paper to bake them on. Keep whipping until you can whip no more… Bake on a clean baking sheet… And if at first you don’t succeed…