This traditionally British dessert is a favourite of kids and adults alike...
Preheat the oven to 100C/Gas Mark 1/4.
Begin by making the meringues. Add the egg whites to the bowl of a stand mixer and turn the whisk attachment on to high. Whip the egg whites until they form medium peaks and then turn the speed down to medium. Slowly add the caster sugar, a teaspoon at a time, allowing each addition to be properly incorporated before adding the next. You want the sugar to dissolve after each addition and the best way to check is to rub a little of the meringue between your thumb and forefinger –the mixture should feel smooth and not grainy. If it is still grainy then continue to whisk until smooth and all the sugar has been added.
The meringue should now be stiff, voluminous, and glossy. Add the tablespoon of lemon juice and whisk again to incorporate. The lemon juice helps to stabilise the meringue.
Line 2x large baking sheets with baking paper and use a little of the meringue mixture on the corner of the baking paper to stick it to the sheet. With our recipe we have chosen to bake some large meringues to crumble throughout the Eton Mess but also some smaller, meringue kisses to decorate the top –but this is optional. The pink and white meringue kisses are achieved using a piping bag with a small nozzle attached, then painting some pink gel food colouring up the inside of the piping bag with a food safe brush. Then simply spoon some meringue mixture into the piping bag and pipe small kisses onto the baking tray. These small kisses take roughly 45 minutes to bake.
With the larger meringue you can simply spoon these straight onto the baking tray. We left some of ours white. Then with the remaining meringue mixture we marbled some pink through by folding some pink food colouring through stopping before it was fully mixed. Then we spooned this onto the baking tray in the same way. These larger meringues take approximately 1 hour to bake. The best way to tell if the meringue is baked is if they lift very easily off the baking paper.
Once all the meringues are baked, remove from the oven, and allow to cool. Once the meringues are cooled you can assemble the Eton Mess. Lightly crush the large meringues and leave the kisses to garnish.
Pour the double cream into a clean bowl and add the icing sugar. Use an electric whisk to beat this to soft peaks. You can whisk this by hand, it just takes longer and a little more elbow grease! Finally add the vanilla bean paste and the Maldon Salt and fold through. The Maldon Salt is delicious here as it helps cut through the sweetness of the dessert and enhances the flavours of the strawberries and vanilla.
To a large trifle dish, you just want to start layering up –there is no correct way to do this. Simply alternate between layering the softly whipped cream, strawberries, crushed meringues pieces, and strawberry coulis. Finish the top of the layers with some peaks of the whipped cream.
Finally, garnish with some of the meringue kisses (we decorated ours with little flecks of gold leaf), strawberry halves and edible flowers. Serve immediately.