Sunday, May 1, 2011

Celebrating the Royal Wedding - Eton Mess & Crème Brûlée

Sorry I've had a non-existent posting week this week. I've had a good friend staying, and trying out new recipes, along with photographing them, has been a bit of a stretch.  And apart from that, we had Friday's big event to think about - William & Kate's wedding.

Catherine Middleton & Prince William Portraits by Mario Testino/Art Partner/Snapper Media

Despite growing up in England, singing 'God Save The Queen' throughout school, studying history, going to the Trooping the Colour numerous times, and having many extremely pro-Monarchy relations (including a grandmother who subscribed to Majesty magazine, for those who are really into the British Royal family!) and wouldn't say that the Royal family held much interest for me.

I wasn't old enough to remember Charles & Diana's wedding back in 1981, and have just a few vague memories of Andrew & Fergie's wedding, so this was the first British Royal wedding to really engage with.  There was an added element for me too this time around - I went to school with Catherine Middleton, not something I really want to go on about, but she is a lovely person and I can see why William would have been so taken with her. Always great to see people you grew up with achieving things too.

Six girls had a get together at a friend's house. I'm so glad we did - it was so much fun! My hubby was at home toddler-minding and didn't even watch it...

We giggled and gasped, and pointed out some of the small intimate bits (such as when William said to Kate as she arrived at the altar, 'You look beautiful' and how Kate gasped as she came onto the balcony to greet the crowds). Loved the dress, she looked so stunning. Pippa looked incredible. Moreover I just enjoyed every element of the lead-up, seeing the crowds, checking out what William & Harry were wearing, seeing Harry being cheeky throughout. And thinking of my very own special Diana who would have so enjoyed this moment.

We ate dips, olives, asparagus quiche, rocket & pear salad, french bread, and a huge array of European cheeses, along with my Eton Mess dessert. Oh, and a bit of champers too.

Eton Mess is a classic english dessert, is at least 200 years old which means that it predates our Aussie Pavlova (1935) by quite a way. Eton is the very exclusive English school that William attended, which made it all the more appropriate for me. Mess refers not only to the look of the dessert - it really is just a jumbly mess, but also how easy it is to eat.

Classically it would be served with strawberries, but it is often made with bananas, rhubarb and raspberries.


6 egg whites
340g caster sugar (11/2 cups)
1 pinch salt

300ml double/thick cream
500g frozen raspberries, or fruit of your choice - defrost an hour before serving if using frozen

Serves 6

Pre-heat the oven to 150 degrees celsius.
Cover a baking sheet in baking paper.
Use a mixer to fluff the egg whites until they reach stiff peaks, then slowly add the caster sugar and salt.
Gently dollop the mixture into 12 medium sized meringues, and bake for an hour.
They will have slightly golden edges when done. (You will also have a few leftover meringues for another time)
Assemble the dessert right at the time you are going to serve, otherwise the mixture can become over-soggy. It's nice to still have a few pieces of crispy meringue in there.
Firstly crush the meringues with your fingers, aiming to have a few larger shards that will add shape to the end dessert. Then mix in the cream and fruit. Easy peesy!

Recipe adapted from Sophie Dahl's Rhubarb & Rosewater Eton Mess

Sorry about the lack of photos - quite distracted by the wedding footage that had absolutely no ad breaks!

Having so many egg yolks in the fridge,  I decided that they may as well be used up - and Crème Brûlée was calling me. It would have to be my all time favourite dessert. So decadent, and such a classic. That obligatory tap you have to make with your spoon and crunch of the topping, along with the richest vanilla custard.
I still order it pretty much whenever it pops up on a dessert menu, especially if it has some sort of appealing twist (hhmmmmm espresso Crème Brûlée!)
This is my mum's cheats recipe, as she would say. Having made Crème Brûlée the 'long way' I can't say that i see much difference, but this does cut out a little extra work.

6 egg yolks
110g caster sugar
1 pint single cream (550ml)
1 vanilla pod
Demarara sugar, to top


Preheat the oven to 150 celsius.
Blend the yolks and caster sugar using a wooden spoon.
Place the cream in a saucepan, then split the vanilla pod removing as many seeds as possible. Place both seeds and pod in the saucepan with the cream. Bring just to the point of boiling - removing from the heat when you see the first bubble.
Pour the cream slowly over the yolks, stirring well.
Strain the custard and remove the vanilla pod, and then pour into 6 small ramekins. These need to be placed in a shallow roasting tin, which is then filled with cool water. The water will be most of the way up the sides of the ramekins.
Bake the custards for 1 hour to 11/2 hours - until the custard is set.
Allow to cool, then chill.
An hour or so before serving, cover the tops of the custards in demarara sugar (caster sugar also works, but I love the taste of brown sugar on top) and place under a grill until the sugar is browned.
Allow to cool before serving.
Works well with a fruit compoté or fresh fruit.


  1. mmmmm i love creme brulee and eton mess. the rhubarb version sounds great. Can't believe you went to school with her - its nice to hear she is as real as she seems :)

  2. Yum! Perfect way to celebrate, they both look delicious!


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