Recipe: Welcome spring with this decadent dessert

Maggie's mess is a rich dessert based on an old English favourite.
Maggie's mess is a rich dessert based on an old English favourite. 123rf

ETON Mess is the delightful name given to a delicious dessert that is thought to have originated as a post-cricket treat in the "sock shop" (tuck shop, or canteen) of the famous boys' school in England.

This simple-to-make dish is not unlike a deconstructed pavlova and is a fabulous way to celebrate the start of spring.

The traditional ingredients are strawberries, whipped chantilly cream and crushed meringue.

The strawberries are a nod to healthy eating but the rest of the ingredients let it down rather badly.

I now substitute unsweetened Greek yogurt for half the cream, and add more fruit in the form of raspberries or whatever is in season to make it a little less gasp-worthy, so this recipe is more Maggie's mess than Eton's.

My philosophy these days is enjoy what you eat; if you feel guilty there's no point.

If you eat a small portion of an indulgent dessert occasionally, just go for a good long walk afterwards and avoid sweet treats for the next week or two.

You can forgo the sugar when whipping the cream but it helps to stabilise it. If you do use the sugar you can prepare the dessert a few hours ahead but leave the meringues out until you're ready to serve.

If I have time I make my own meringues, but you can buy the miniature vanilla versions in most supermarkets.

Unlike a pavlova, a meringue is cooked right through so will stay fresh stored in an airtight container in a dark cupboard for many months.

Once added to the dessert though, serve immediately while still crunchy or they will dissolve.

Maggie's mess:

Serves 4


200ml pure cream

2 tbs sugar

250g punnet strawberries

125g punnet raspberries

150ml plain thick Greek yogurt

12 mini vanilla meringues


  • Chill cream and mixing bowl before starting.
  • Whip cream with sugar until soft peaks form; do not overbeat.
  • Hull strawberries and wash along with the raspberries.
  • Pat dry with a paper towel. Slice strawberries in half, or quarters if large.
  • In a clean bowl, gently mix cream, berries and yogurt until just combined.
  • Lightly crush meringues into chunks and gently fold through the mixture. Divide among four bowls. Serve immediately.
  • Variation: Fold the pulp of passionfruit through the mixture.

Contact Maggie at

Topics:  cooking recipe the weekend cook weekend magazine

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