Another Fine Mess

For Jemima Jones and Lucy Carr-Ellison – those talented London Based chefs from Tart London – Basil & Neroli Cologne captures an infectious optimism, epitomising those perfect summer days when the sun shines miraculously brightly and when it seems like tomorrow will never come. So why not, they figured, use the ingredients as inspiration for a summer dessert with a scented twist?

An update on the British classic, Eton Mess, they have created a fragrant meringue-based dessert to deliver instant sunshine to the table. ‘We loved experimenting with infusing herbs, which started when we created our scented pancake recipe with Jo Malone London,’ Lucy says. ‘We wanted to continue this unexpected approach by infusing basil in cream – it provides a brilliant peppery contrast to the sweetness of the fruit. There’s something so indulgent about meringues, while using neroli adds a wonderful elegance.’ Time to get whisking.

An update on the British classic, Eton Mess...
the fragrant meringue-based dessert delivers
instant sunshine to the table

TART London Scented Meringues
(Serves 10)

For the meringues
White wine vinegar
6 egg whites
300g caster sugar
1 dessert spoon neroli oil (or orange blossom water)
100g pistachios, roughly chopped

For the cream
600ml double cream
Large bunch of basil
2 tbsp honey
1 vanilla pod, split in half

For the finishing touches
Oranges for zesting
100g pomegranate seeds
200g raspberries
Basil leaves

For the meringues
• Preheat the oven to 120°C/250°F/Gas Mark 1⁄2.
• Line two baking trays with baking parchment. Pour a little white wine vinegar onto a piece of kitchen towel and wipe clean a large mixing bowl (this gets rid of any grease which prevents the egg whites expanding).
• Place the egg whites in the bowl and beat using an electric whisk until they form firm peaks. Then, slowly add the sugar a spoonful at a time. When all the sugar is added, the meringue mixture should be white, thick and glossy.
• Next, pour in the neroli oil (or orange blossom water) and quickly fold in using a large metal spoon, being careful not to overmix.
• Using a dessert spoon, carefully spoon the mixture onto the baking tray, spacing out the meringues. Sprinkle them with chopped pistachios and place in the oven.
• Cook for 40 minutes to an hour and remove from the oven. The meringues should be crisp on top but with a good chew.
• Place them on cooling racks and, once cool, store them in an air-tight container. The meringues can be stored for a week.
For the cream
• Place the cream in a pan with the basil leaves and vanilla. Bring to a simmer for 5 minutes. Take off the heat and leave to cool and infuse for an hour or so.
• Pour into a bowl and discard the basil leaves, add the honey and whip until the cream forms soft peaks.
To serve, dollop a spoon or two of the cream on a plate, then place a meringue on top and scatter over the raspberries and pomegranate seeds. Finish by zesting an orange and then sprinkle the zest and some basil leaves over the meringues.
Serving suggestion: No need to strive for perfection. The beauty in this recipe is its informality – the more fallen apart, the more joyful.

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