Black Forest Eton Mess

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This delicious black forest Eton mess consists of layers of sweet crumbled meringue, velvety whipped cream, an intense cherry-brandy compote and a smooth chocolate ganache. Because you can use fresh or canned cherries, you can make this dessert year-round, whether it’s a hot summer day or the winter holidays. 

black forest eton mess

This post was originally published on July 30, 2015.

This Eton mess trifle is one of my favorite desserts. 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.

I had actually never heard of an Eton Mess until my buddy Nagi of recipetineats.com 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! :)

How to make a black forest Eton mess:

This dessert is not difficult to make but it does take time because the meringue takes a while to bake and because it tastes best after it’s had a few hours in the fridge, so be sure to plan for that.

1. Start by whipping 3 egg whites (at room temperature), 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract and 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar until they hold soft peaks.

2. Slowly but steadily whip in 3/4 cup granulated sugar. Once all the sugar is incorporated, you will end up with a very firm meringue.

how to make black forest eton mess step by step

3. Spoon round little meringue nests onto a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake them for 45 minutes at 275 degrees F.

4. Turn the oven off and without opening the oven door, let the meringues cool in the oven for another hour.

how to make black forest eton mess step by step

5. Once the meringue nests are cooled completely, crumble them into a bowl and set aside.

6. For the cherry compote you have two fine options: you can use 1.5 pounds fresh cherries (you have to remove the stems and the pits) or canned and drained red tart cherries. Fresh cherries look more attractive for sure but as far as flavor is concerned, canned red tart cherries work surprisingly well here and make an excellent alternative when fresh cherries are not in season.

how to make black forest eton mess step by step

7. Cook whichever type of cherries you are using along with 2 tablespoons granulated sugar2 tablespoons brandy and 2 teaspoons lemon juice until the cherries start to break down, then let them cool.

how to make black forest eton mess step by step

8. To make the ganache, add 2 ounces finely chopped sweet chocolate (milk chocolate or German chocolate) and 1 ounce finely chopped bittersweet chocolate to a bowl, then pour 3 tablespoons hot cream over the chocolate. Let the mix sit for a minute, then whisk it into a smooth ganache. (If you still have chocolate clumps remaining, heat the mix over a pot of simmering water and continue to whisk until all the chocolate is melted.)

9. For the whipped cream layer, simply whip 1.5 cups heavy cream with 1.5 tablespoons granulated sugar and 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract to stiff peaks.

how to make black forest eton mess step by step

To serve the Eton mess, fill the meringue crumbles into jars, top them with whipped cream, then the ganache, then the cherry compote. It tastes best if you let it sit in the fridge for about four hours before serving.

More delicious fruit desserts:

black forest eton mess
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5 from 4 votes

Black Forest Eton Mess

This delicious black forest Eton mess consists of layers of sweet crumbled meringue, velvety whipped cream, an intense cherry-brandy compote and a smooth chocolate ganache. Because you can use fresh or canned cherries, you can make this dessert year-round, whether it's a hot summer day or the winter holidays.
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time1 hr 45 mins
Chill Time4 hrs
Total Time6 hrs
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: British
Keyword: black forest eton mess
Servings: 8
Calories: 350kcal

Ingredients:

For the meringue layers:

  • 3 egg whites, at room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 3/4 cup sugar

For the cherry layers:

  • 1.5 pounds dark cherries, stems and pits removed (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 sweet chocolate (milk chocolate or German chocolate) finely chopped*
  • 1 ounce bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped*
  • 3 tablespoons heavy cream

For the whipped cream layers:

  • 1.5 cup heavy cream
  • 1.5 tablespoons sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions:

For the meringue layers:

  • Heat the oven to 275 degrees F.
  • Whip egg whites, vanilla and cream of tartar until you get soft peaks.
  • Slowly and gradually add the sugar, continuing to whip until all sugar is incorporated. You will end up with a very firm meringue.
  • Spoon 8 round meringue nests on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake for 45  minutes.
  • 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:

  • 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:

  • Bring the cream to a boil in the microwave or on the stovetop and pour over the chocolate. Let the mix sit for a minute.
  • Whisk until you have a smooth ganache. If necessary, heat the mix over a water bath until all the chocolate is dissolved.

For the whipped cream layers:

  • Whip all ingredients to stiff peaks.

For the assembly:

  • Crumble up the meringue nests.
  • Fill crushed meringue, whipped cream, chocolate ganache and cherry layers into tall glasses or a large bowl. Let sit in the fridge for about four hours before serving.

Notes:

*Don’t use chocolate morsels; morsels have stabilizers in them that actually prevent them from melting.

Nutrition

Calories: 350kcal

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black forest eton mess

8 comments

  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

    • 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. :)

    • 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

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