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Author Notes: This is a dessert that I discovered when I was researching for my cookbook, The London Cookbook.
This is an Italian riff on the British classic that I happen to love quite as much as the original strawberry classic. It’s based on a version I had at Locanda Locatelli, a truly spectacular Italian restaurant in London. If the name Locatelli sounds familiar, it’s because the chef, Giorgio Locatelli is the author of Made in Italy, the comprehensive tome on Italian cooking.
Eton Mess is a delicious improvisation of broken up meringue, berries, and whipped cream. Giorgio omits the berries and opts instead for a homemade Amalfi lemon curd and sorbet. At Locanda Locatelli, he includes a foam and cookies and makes his sorbet from scratch. I find the foam and cookies an unnecessary distraction, and I tend to buy the lemon sorbet. My latest obsession, however, is Jeni’s Lemon Buttermilk Frozen Yogurt (https://shop.jenis.com/frozen-yogurts/lemon-buttermilk-frozen-yogurt-pint/), which gives just the right creamy tanginess here. The lemon curd is from another recipe in my book and comes thanks to the restaurant DuckSoup. Having tried it once, it is now the only lemon curd I make.
If you love lemon curd as much as I do—it’s terrific on scones, toast, English muffins and eaten directly from the jar—double the recipe. It will keep in the fridge for a few days or even longer if you use a sterile canning jar.
Mess is meant to be as random, as its meaning suggests. If you don’t have sorbet, skip it. If you prefer a different ratio of cream to curd, do it your way. If you like your meringues chewier, cut their baking time. This recipe is meant to be broken.
Serves 4, with leftovers
For the meringue and Chantilly cream:
- 2 egg whites
- 2/3 cup plus 1/4 cup sugar
- 2 cups heavy cream, preferably not ultra-pasteurized
- 1 tablespoon limoncello
- To make the meringue, preheat the oven to 200˚F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Whisk the egg whites and ⅔ cup of sugar to a stiff peak. Spread onto prepared baking sheet or drop large dollops onto the sheet. Bake 6 to 7 hours or overnight.
- To make the cream, whip the heavy cream with the ¼ cup sugar until billowy. Add the Limoncello, beating another minute or two to fully incorporate.
For the lemon curd and assembly:
- 4 lemons zested and juiced, Meyer if possible
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter
- 3 whole eggs
- 2 egg yolks
- Lemon sorbet, optional
- Lemon zest, optional
- To make the lemon curd, prepare an ice bath and keep cold. Heat all ingredients over a double-boiler, whisking regularly until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.
- Pour the curd through a sieve and chill it in the ice bath, whisking occasionally. Once it is cool to the touch, cover with plastic wrap. Place the wrap directly on the surface of the curd to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate until needed. The curd is best served at a cool room-temperature, but not straight out of the fridge.
- To assemble, break the meringue into small pieces and fold into the cream. Swirl in as much of the lemon curd as you’d like. If desired, place a small scoop of lemon sorbet in the middle of the mess. For additional color, you may garnish with a small grating of lemon zest. Serve immediately.
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