A tasty foreign mess

By The Columbia Chronicle

Every summer of my youth I would visit my grandparents in Birmingham, England. In addition to the extremely competitive games of Scrabble between my grandmother and I, one of the things I looked forward to most was her traditional British cooking.

To make enough Eton Mess to feed four, you need 20 ounces of full-fat whipping cream or extra heavy cream; 1/4 cup of water; 2 tablespoons of orange juice; 1 1/2 pounds of fresh strawberries; 2 tablespoons of powdered sugar; 8 eggs; 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract; 2 cups of granulated sugar and 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar.

Before beginning, preheat the oven to 200 degrees.

To make the meringues, separate the eggs, placing the whites in a clean, stainless steel mixing bowl. Dispose of the yolks in the trash or save them for later use. Beat the egg whites with an electric beater on medium speed until they are foamy, then add the cream of tartar.

Continue beating until the eggs are at soft-peak stage (they should bend over slightly as you

remove the mixer). Then beat the whites vigorously while adding 2 cups of granulated sugar by the tablespoon.

Add all of the sugar and continue beating  until the egg whites are glossy and form stiff peaks. Line a baking tray with grease-proof paper before putting heaped tablespoons of the egg white mixture in rows on the baking tray.

Then put the meringues in the oven to cook for three hours. They should be firm and dry to the touch, but not brown.

While the meringues cook, make the strawberry sauce.

Place four to six strawberries, two tablespoons of powdered sugar and two tablespoons of orange juice in a medium saucepan over medium-to-high heat.

Stir the mixture until the sugar is dissolved.  Add 2 tablespoons of water. Bring the mixture to a boil and then reduce heat to a low simmer, stirring occasionally to break up the strawberries.

Once the mixture thickens to a syrup-like consistency, remove from heat and let cool slightly.

While the sauce simmers and the meringues bake, cut 1 1/4 pounds of fresh strawberries to the size of your choice, set aside for later use.

Once cool enough to handle, pour the sauce into a strainer. Use a spoon to force any chunks through the strainer and into a plastic container to hold the sauce.

Place a lid on the container to keep the sauce fresh.

Finally, in a medium bowl, beat 20 ounces of heavy whipping cream and 1/2 a tablespoon of vanilla extract into a fluffy consistency to finish your presentation.

To  serve, plate a meringue and several pieces of chopped strawberries. Top with a dollop of the whipped cream and a drizzle of the strawberry sauce.