Named for the iconic English boarding school where it originated, the classic Eton Mess is a multitextured dessert featuring strawberries, meringue and whipped cream. For this modern version, add pink peppercorns to the meringue and cardamom to the whipped cream, and swap baked rhubarb compote for the fresh strawberries.
Slideshow: More Meringue Recipes
2 1/4 cups heavy cream
1 tablespoon sugar
10 cardamom pods, cracked
PINK PEPPERCORN MERINGUE
1/4 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped
1/2 cup superfine sugar
2 1/2 teaspoon cornstarch
3 large egg whites
Pinch of kosher salt
1 tablespoon pink peppercorns, coarsely ground
1/2 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped
3/4 cup sugar
2 pounds rhubarb, cut into 3/4 -inch pieces
1/4 cup Grand Marnier
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
Cocoa nibs, for sprinkling
How to Make It
Step 1 Make the cardamom cream
In a medium saucepan, combine the cream, sugar and cardamom and bring just to a simmer. Remove from the heat, cover and let stand for 1 hour. Strain the cream through a fine sieve into a large bowl. Cover and refrigerate for 4 hours.
Step 2 Meanwhile, make the meringue
Preheat the oven to 200° and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. In a small bowl, rub the vanilla seeds into the sugar and stir in the cornstarch. In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk, beat the egg whites with the salt at medium-high speed to soft peaks. Gradually beat in the vanilla sugar, then beat at high speed until the whites are stiff, about 3 minutes. Fold in the pink peppercorns.
Step 3 Meanwhile, make the meringue
Spread the meringue on the prepared baking sheet in a 1/4-inch-thick layer. Bake in the center of the oven for about 2 hours and 30 minutes, until very lightly colored and crisp. Let cool completely, then break into bite-size pieces.
Step 4 Make the compote
Preheat the oven to 325°. In a 9-by-13-inch baking dish, rub the vanilla bean and seeds into the sugar. Add the rhubarb, Grand Marnier and salt and toss to coat. Let the rhubarb macerate for 15 minutes.
Step 5 Make the compote
Tightly cover the baking dish with foil and bake for 30 minutes, until the rhubarb is soft but not falling apart. Let cool slightly. Discard the vanilla bean.
Step 6 Make the compote
Drain the rhubarb in a sieve set over a medium saucepan. Bring the juices to a boil, then simmer over moderately high heat until syrupy, about 5 minutes. Fold the rhubarb into the syrup and let cool completely. Refrigerate the compote until slightly chilled, 45 minutes.
Step 7 Make the compote
Whip the cardamom cream at medium-high speed until firm peaks form.
Step 8 Make the compote
Layer the rhubarb compote, cardamom whipped cream and meringue on plates or in glasses. Sprinkle with cocoa nibs and serve.
The meringue can be stored in an airtight container overnight. The rhubarb compote and unwhipped cardamom cream can be refrigerated separately for up to 2 days.
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