The sight of farmers’ market tables and roadside stands, laden with ripe produce—smooth-skinned squash in the winter giving way to bright, plump and deeply fragrant fruits in spring and early summer—is one of our favorite ways to mark the changing seasons. Now, as summer begins to heat up, we’ve set our sights on those characteristic green lattice baskets filled with soft, jewel-toned strawberries, raspberries, blackberries and blueberries.
The most flavorful berries come from local farms during their peak growing seasons, where crops can be harvested and delivered to nearby farmers’ markets and produce stands in just a day or two (or in some cases, mere hours). With just a quick stop to pick up a pint or two in the morning, you’ll get fruits bursting with sun-ripened flavor that deserve to be eaten immediately and with great abandon.
If you can hold out on devouring the gorgeous, juicy berries right when they land on your kitchen counter (but we don’t blame you if you can’t), we recommend whipping up this festive red, white and blue Eton mess. It’s a seasonal showstopper fit for your 4th of July gathering.
We’re also working on a few more easy recipes featuring summer’s best berries, so stay tuned for more ways to use the abundance of seasonal fruits in the coming weeks.
Mixed Berry Eton Mess with Meringues
With its swirls of whipped cream, sweet meringue crumbles and a pile of seasonal strawberries, there’s a reason Eton mess (named for the boys boarding school where it’s said to have been invented) is a beloved British treat. Here, we’ve updated the classic dessert with 4th of July colors, but don’t be afraid to mix and match berries depending on what’s best near you!
3 Large Egg Whites
⅔ Cup White Sugar
4 Ounces Mixed Berries (or Berry of your choice)
1 Teaspoon Balsamic Vinegar
½ Cup Heavy Whipping Cream
2 Tablespoons Confectioner’s Sugar (or White)
1. Make the meringue batter
Preheat the oven to 225°F. In a large bowl, using a hand mixer, beat the egg whites on medium-high speed until stiff peaks form. Slowly add all but 1 tablespoon of the white sugar and continue beating 7 to 8 minutes, or until glossy peaks form.
2. Bake the meringues
Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Transfer the meringue batter to a piping bag and pipe about 30 mounds, each about 1 inch in diameter, onto the lined baking sheets. Bake 1 hour and 10 minutes, or until crispy. Leaving the meringues inside, turn off the oven and let cool 1 hour and 30 minutes.
Chef’s Tip: If you don’t have a piping bag, you can use a resealable plastic bag with one corner snipped off. If your parchment is being unruly, use the meringue batter to “”glue” it down in the 4 corners of the baking sheet.
3. Macerate the berries
While the meringues bake, hull and halve the strawberries. Halve the blueberries. In a small bowl, stir together the berries, vinegar and remaining white sugar. Let stand to marinate, stirring occasionally, until the meringues have cooled.
4. Make the whipped cream & assemble
In a large bowl, vigorously whisk the heavy cream until soft peaks form. Add the confectioner’s sugar and whisk until thickened. Divide the baked meringues between 4 bowls. Top each with a dollop of the whipped cream and the macerated berries.