30 minutes, plus overnight soaking and 3 hours baking
Pascal Aussignac pays homage to the classic British dessert of Eton Mess, swapping the traditional strawberries for soft prunes that have been marinated overnight in a gently spiced syrup. By also preparing the meringues the night before with the prunes this dish becomes a perfect dinner party dessert, as very little hands on preparation is required at the point of serving. Pascal serves his mess as layers in individual glasses but you could also fold the prunes, meringue and cream together as one large dish, if preferred.
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Begin with the prunes as these will need to soak overnight. Place the boiling water in a pan over a medium heat and stir in the sugar until fully dissolved. Add the spices and the zest of 1 of the oranges and cook for a couple of minutes until the mixture thickens to form a syrup
50g of sugar
150ml of boiling water
1 cinnamon stick
1 star anise
5 cardamom pods
1 orange, zested
Add the prunes to the pan and continue to simmer for 3 minutes in the spiced syrup. Remove from the heat and allow to cool completely, then cover the pan and leave to marinate overnight
300g of Agen prunes, ready to eat, soft and pitted
Preheat the oven to 100°C/gas mark 1/2. Line a large baking tray with baking paper
To make the meringues, place the egg whites in a large clean bowl and whisk until the mixture holds soft peaks when the whisk is lifted out. Start adding the sugar a little at a time, whisking continuously until the meringue is thick and glossy
4 egg whites
240g of caster sugar
Use a tablespoon to spoon mounds of the mixture on to the lined baking tray, leaving a little space for expansion between each one. Bake in the oven for 3 hours until crisp on the outside and a very pale golden colour. Cool and store until ready to serve
When ready to serve, place the double cream in a large bowl and add the icing sugar. Gently whip until soft and slightly thickened, then add the Armagnac and continue to whip until firm and voluminous – be careful not to overwhip as the cream will become stiff and dry
1l double cream
25g of icing sugar
100ml of Armagnac
Drain the prunes, discarding the spices but reserving the syrup. Chop the prunes into halves or quarters (depending on their size) and roughly crush the meringues. Layer up the prunes, syrup, Armagnac cream and crushed meringues in serving glasses or bowls, finishing with a generous sprinkle of orange zest
1 orange, zested
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