Bastard Raspberry, Lemon and Pistachio Eton Mess
This lemon and raspberry Eton mess recipe couldn't be easier to make. Bringing together crushed shop-bought meringue nests, lashings of jarred lemon curd, plenty of whipped cream and raspberry coulis, it's the perfect easy dessert for student and beginner cooks alike.
I grew up in Cornwall, and my first ever relationship was with a lovely bloke called Pete. (We’re still good pals today. He’s an architect now. And a vegetarian.) Pete’s mum, Tanya, who is an amazing cook, introduced me to this dessert when I was 16. The original recipe is called Eastern Mess and is from Sabrina Ghayour’s book Persiana; it uses rosewater and basil alongside the raspberries, and is genuinely stunning.
Bastardising recipes, however, is one of my favourite things to do. I like to add lemon zest to the cream, then swirl lemon curd and raspberry coulis through it, along with the fresh raspberries, and I omit the rosewater and basil. So it’s really not the same at all, but there we go. You now know where it has come from.
This can be assembled in 15 or so minutes, requires no further chilling, and you can use store-bought meringues (but don’t tell Pete’s mum I said that). I make no apology for having two raspberry-based recipes in this chapter, because they’re my favourite fruit. However, because this one calls for fresh raspberries as well as frozen (you can make it all with fresh if your budget allows, but fresh razzers are expensive), you’re best making it in summer when raspberries are cheaper and more delicious. That said, you can replace the fresh raspberries with the same amount of chopped strawberries if you want, which are more reliable year-round.
I’m sure you could get creative with a pomegranate and clementine one at Christmas, or go for blackcurrant in the autumn, if you can get hold of them. Probably wouldn’t have a springtime asparagus and lamb one, though – might be a bit odd with ripples of mint sauce running through it.
|A bag (about 300g) of||frozen raspberries|
|A small||lemon, zested and juiced|
|A tbsp or two of||icing sugar|
|2 tbsp (40g) of||shelled roasted pistachios, unsalted|
|600ml||double cream (Oatly now do a whippable plant-based cream, by the way, if you still want to make this but can’t have dairy)|
|5||individual meringue nests|
|A punnet (about 200g) of||fresh raspberries or strawberries|
|½ jar (200g or so) of||lemon curd|
|mint or basil leaves, to decorate|
To start, defrost the frozen raspberries overnight in the fridge, or use the low-power option on the microwave. You can even quickly run them under a warm tap in a colander. Once defrosted, mash to a pulp with half the lemon juice and a little icing sugar, to taste, to make a coulis. Roughly chop the pistachios.
Whip the cream until it’s floppy, adding the lemon zest halfway. I don’t actually own an electric hand whisk, so I whip the cream with a large balloon whisk and some overdeveloped triceps. Whatever you do, don’t overwhip it at this stage, as stirring stuff into it later finishes off the job. You’re looking for ribbons here rather than peaks.
Crush the meringues into bite-sized pieces and fold them through the cream, along with the punnet of fresh raspberries (reserve a few for garnish), a few dabs of the curd and coulis, and half of the pistachios.
If you’re serving it to people who really couldn’t give a toss what it looks like, you can fold in the rest of the raspberries in here, and ripple through rivers of the curd and coulis softly in the same bowl. Serve with the rest of the lemon curd in the jar and the remaining pistachios for sprinkling, and let people help themselves. If you’re looking to impress, however, serving it in a large glass bowl is the way to go. Spaff some of your raspberry coulis and dollops of lemon curd around the bottom and sides of the bowl, then slide a quarter of the cream-and-meringue mixture on top. Dollop over some more raspberry purée and wee gobs of the curd, before layering up the rest of the mix in the same repeated manner. Top with the remaining pistachios, raspberries and some extra lemon zest.
Mint leaves or Sabrina’s basil leaves really set off the red of the raspberry beautifully as a garnish, but that’s entirely optional, as this is one of the more expensive recipes in this book as it is.
It’s best to serve this right after you’ve made it, as the meringue goes soggy after a while, and the cream has a tendency to curdle when it’s pressed up against all those acidic raspberries for longer than an hour or so.