Black Forest Eton Mess

I’ve got a delicious crumbled meringue, whipped cream, cherry-brandy compote and chocolate ganache trifle dessert today. The meringue is crunchy but very delicate, softened by vanilla whipped cream, coated with a blanket of creamy milk chocolate and bittersweet chocolate flavors and topped with fresh, juicy cherries cooked in brandy.

Black Forest Eton Mess Recipe

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I had actually never heard of an Eton Mess until my buddy Nagi of recently challenged me to make one for The Spice Train. Nagi, your turn now! ;)

Apparently the dessert is traditionally served at Eton College’s annual cricket match and was invented in one way or another (different sources tell different stories here) at the school. Kudos to whoever it was, definitely a fine job! :)

Black Forest Eton Mess
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
The recipe for the meringue nests comes from Taste of Home.
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 8
For the meringue layers:
  • 3 egg whites at room temperature
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
  • ¾ cup sugar
For the cherry layers:
  • 1½ pounds dark cherries (if cherries are not in season, you can use canned and drained red tart cherries instead)
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons brandy
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
For the chocolate ganache layers:
  • 2 ounces milk chocolate, finely chopped*
  • 1 ounce bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped*
  • 3 tablespoons heavy cream
For the whipped cream layers:
  • 1½ cup heavy cream
  • 1½ tablespoons sugar
  • ¾ teaspoon vanilla extract
For the meringue layers:
  1. Heat the oven to 275 degrees F.
  2. Whip egg whites, vanilla and cream of tartar until you get soft peaks.
  3. Gradually add the sugar, continuing to whip.
  4. Spoon 8 round meringue nests on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake for 45 – 50 minutes until dry and set.
  5. Turn off the oven, don't open the oven door, and let the meringue nests cool in the oven for 1 hour.
For the cherry layers:
  1. Add cherries, sugar, brandy and lemon juice to a pan and cook on medium heat until the cherries start to break down and the juice thickens. Let cool.
For the chocolate ganache layers:
  1. Bring the cream to a boil in the microwave and pour over the chocolate.
  2. Mix until you have a smooth ganache. If necessary, heat the mix over a water bath until the chocolate is dissolved.
For the whipped cream layers:
  1. Whip all ingredients to stiff peaks.
For the assembly:
  1. Crumble up the meringue nests.
  2. Fill crushed meringue, whipped cream, chocolate ganache and cherry layers into tall glasses or a large bowl and serve.
*Don't use chocolate morsels; morsels have stabilizers in them that actually prevent them from melting.

Food Photography and Styling: I used prosecco glasses from Crate and Barrel here and I thought they worked really beautifully. The backdrop is a piece of slate that I recently found in our old shed. I thought it belonged to my husband but he had never seen it either so I suppose the previous owners had left it there. So go snoop around your shed or maybe your attic and you may just find some cool props! :) I lit the photo from the side with my strobe.

Nikon D600, 105mm, f/5.6, 1/125 sec., ISO 100. One Hensel Integra Pro Plus 500 Monolight, 35″ x 58″ Softbox.


    • Nicole B. says:

      It’s such a great dessert, isn’t it? I can’t believe I didn’t know about it until recently! :) –nic xx

    • Nicole B. says:

      That would be cool, wouldn’t it? You could bring some of your grilled sensations, I’d bring an Eton Mess, you could grab some garden veggies and I’d pluck a few limes off your miracle tree. :)

  1. Nagi@RecipeTinEats says:

    Damn you! Why did you have to beat me to the styling challenge – I don’t want to be compared!!

    You know what I love about this? I love your thinking – that you took a big dessert typically served as one big mess and broke it down into small to make something that is typically a beautiful “mess” into something so delicate.

    Bowing to the Food Photography Queen.

    I have so many observations to make about this shot. I just LOVE it. I hope you don’t mind if I share it on FBC FB?

    • Nicole B. says:

      Ha! Yup, I figured a big mess would be too, um messy, so I made it miniature. ;) Please feel free to share anywhere you like! –nic x

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