This heavenly hotchpotch of deliciousness is essentially Sophie Dahl's take on Eton Mess, entitled, Christmas Sugarplum Syllabubby Mess. Since I feel it would be sacrilege to confine this scrumptious dessert to the festive season, I hope the lady in question will forgive me for dropping the Christmas bit.
As part of my goal to follow at least one new recipe from each of my 29 cookbooks before I turn 30, I turned to the lovely Miss Dahl last week for something light but sweet. Both the Mr and I have a very sweet tooth, but I'm not always able to squeeze in a stodgy pud after a meal; this recipe is perfect for those occasions, satisfying the sugar craving without sitting in one's stomach like a brick!
I have both Sophie Dahl's recipe books, and love them in equal measure. I enjoy her writing and the photography as much as the recipes, and would recommend them to anyone who loves simple, wholesome food, whimsical writing and the vintage vibe.
Preparation time: 35 minutes
Cooking time:1 hour 45 minutes plus chilling
Total time: 2 hours 20 minutes plus chilling
4 plums (about 250g), stone and roughly chopped
4 pears, peeled, cored and roughly chopped
4 tbsp clear honey or agave nectar
150 ml double cream
150g Greek yoghurt
50g toasted flaked almonds
For the meringues:
340g caster sugar
6 large egg whites
Start with the meringues. Preheat the oven to 130C/gas 1/2. Line a baking tray with non-stick baking paper.
In a very clean, dry bowl, whisk the egg whites until they reach firm peaks. Gradually mix in the sugar and a pinch of salt, until the mixture is a thick cloud of white. This should take somewhere around 8 minutes, and an electric mixer is a blessing unless you are very staunch.
Spoon the mixture into 8 rounds on the baking paper. Bake for 1 hour 15 minutes or so, until firm but not highly coloured. Cool on a wire rack.
To make the compote and syllabub, put the fruit in a small saucepan with about 60ml water and the honey or agave on a low heat. Cook the fruit for about 8 minutes or until it has softened.
Sieve, and set the fruit aside. Put the juice back in the pan with the sugar on a low heat to make a syrup. This will take about 10 minutes. Reserve and cool. Chill the fruit for at least one hour.
Whisk together the cream with a few tablespoons of the reserved fruit syrup. When the mixture begins to thicken, add the greek yogurt and whisk some more.
Now for the imaginative bit. Do you want individual servings or one big platter of meringues, with the fruit compote spooned on top and the cream and syrup spooned on top after that? Or do you want to serve it in layers in individual coloured glasses, with some toasted almonds on top? Picture the land of sweets, and go for it.