This autumnal Eton mess recipe from Geoffrey Smeddle draws on the mellow flavours of the season to create a lovely take on the classic dessert. The glazed figs and poached pears add a new dimension to the dish, as well as bringing a touch of colour. Use a mixture of brown and white sugar for more of a molasses-like flavour to the meringue.
Geoffrey Smeddle, proprietor and chef of The Peat Inn in Fife, started his career working for Herbert Berger at The Café Royal and for Christopher Galvin in London. He then sealed his reputation as one of Scotland’s top chefs by opening Terence Conran's Etain, in Glasgow.
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For the lemon curd, combine the lemon juice, sugar and eggs in a bowl. Set the bowl over a pan of gently simmering water and whisk continuously until a thick ribbon forms
100ml of lemon juice
50g of caster sugar
Continue to whisk while slowly adding the butter in small amounts. Once the butter is completely incorporated into the mix, allow to cool slightly before transferring into a piping bag with a 1cm nozzle
50g of butter
For the poached pears, combine the tea, sugar and water in a pan and stir to dissolve. Place the pan over a medium heat and bring to a simmer. Remove from the heat and allow to infuse for 30 minutes
4 Earl Grey tea bags
700ml of water
150g of caster sugar
Peel, core and cut the pears into 4 wedges. Remove the tea bags and add the pears to the pan, reheat until simmering. Remove the pan from the heat and allow the pears to cool in the liquid. Store the pears in the liquid until required
2 Comice pears
For the meringue, whisk the egg whites, vanilla and a pinch of salt until medium peaks form. Slowly sprinkle in the sugar and continue to whisk until stiff and glossy
2 egg whites
125g of caster sugar
1/2 vanilla pod
1 pinch of salt
Preheat the oven to 90˚C. Line a baking tray with baking paper. Spread the meringue in a thin layer across the baking tray and place into the oven for 1 1/2 to 2 hours until lightly golden
Wash the blackberries and add half to a small pan with the sugar and 50ml of water. Warm the blackberries over a medium heat and gently crush until the mixture starts to boil
1 punnet of blackberries
1 tbsp of caster sugar
Remove from the heat and push through a fine strainer to remove the seeds. Cut the other punnet of blackberries in half, add the creme de mere and strained liquid and macerate the berries until required
1 punnet of blackberries
1 dash of creme de mere
Trim the stems from the figs and cut into 4 wedges. Dust with icing sugar and glaze with a blow torch (or under a hot grill) until a deep golden brown colour. Place on a baking tray and warm through in the oven for a few minutes
4 fresh figs
icing sugar for dusting
To arrange the Eton mess, place some of the blackberries at the base of each glass and pipe over the lemon curd to cover. Slice the pears finely and arrange on top of the curd
Next, crush the meringue and sprinkle over the pears. Top with the warm figs and a dusting of icing sugar. Serve
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