Strawberry and Cream Mess

Welcome summer! It’s June, it’s summer and there are strawberries. Beautiful strawberries that taste red and pink and spill juices down your chin. Strawberries that fill the kitchen with their aroma that brings to mind picnics in the park. Strawberries to be eaten surreptitiously from a hidden stash in your bag during exams. On top of that, this last weekend we’ve been celebrating the Jubilee. I interpreted this as an opportunity to visit friends in Edinburgh and we had a fantastic weekend, eating ridiculously and just generally enjoying the sunshine. On Sunday we joined their neighbours for a Jubilee celebration lunch where everyone contributed something. There was some excellent fare, my favourite being the burgers cooked on a barbeque and the dessert we brought – a strawberry and cream mess (I’m not biased or anything).

We adapted this from a recipe on Waitrose.com of all places – it’s one of Heston’s. You can check out the original recipe here. Essentially it’s strawberry compote, cream, meringues and crumble layered together in a lovely glass bowl. It makes a refreshing and light dessert. And it showcases the wonderful-ness of strawberries at their peak.

Strawberry and Cream Mess
Adapted from waitrose.com

For the Compote:
400g strawberries
120g jam sugar
juice of 1 lemon
1 tbsp elderflower cordial

For the Meringue:  
3 egg whites
180g caster sugar
pinch of salt

For the Crumble:
50g caster sugar
70g ground almonds
50g plain flour
50g unsalted butter

For the Cream:
300g double cream
400g plain yogurt

To assemble:
Strawberries (a handful)

This is easiest if you make the compote and the meringues the day before. Then on the day you just have to bake the crumble part before assembling everything.

To make the compote, roughly chop 200g of the strawberries and place in a pot with the sugar. Leave them for 15 minutes to absorb some of the sugar. Put the pot on a medium heat, add in the lemon juice and bring to the boil. Boil for about 6 minutes, until the mixture has reduced slightly, has become syrupy and the strawberries have started to break up. Remove from the heat, pour into a heat-proof container and allow to cool completely before refrigerating overnight.The next day, halve or quarter the remaining strawberries (depending on size) and add them, together with the elderflower cordial, to the compote. Give everything a good stir and set aside.

For the meringues, preheat the oven to 120C. Place the egg whites in a clean bowl (or bowl of a standing mixer) and whisk until foamy. Add in the pinch of salt and whisk until medium peaks form. Slowly add in the sugar, whisking well between each addition. You should end up with a glossy, stiff mixture. Place dollops of the mixture onto a lined baking tray. I normally do this using two dessert spoons. Bake these for 2 hours then switch off the oven and leave them inside the oven overnight to cool. Of course you can always just buy meringues…

For the crumble, place the dry ingredients together in a bowl. Rub the butter in with your fingertips until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Place on a lined baking tray and bake at 160C for about 20 minutes, until the crumble is golden. Allow to cool completely.

For the cream, whisk the double cream to soft peak. Fold through the yogurt. Then add in 2 tablespoons of the compote and swirl through slightly. Crumble up two or three meringues and swirl them through the cream too.

To assemble: Place the rest of the compote on the bottom of a glass bowl. Pour over the cream mixture. Scatter the crumble mix and more broken up meringues on top. Finally top with halved strawberries.