This Dark Chocolate Cherry Eton Mess with homemade cherry sauce and egg-free meringue is the perfect dessert to serve at a dinner party, or for an extra special weeknight meal.
So I have a bit of a thing for cherry pie filling. I could, without a doubt, open a store bought can of it, and eat the whole thing with a spoon. Of the fruit pies, cherry is definitely my favorite. So when I realized you could buy canned cherries, and easily turn them into homemade cherry pie filing, I was thrilled. I would put it on anything – pancakes and waffles are great choices, and I especially love it on plain Greek yogurt. But to make it extra special, you can turn it into this Dark Chocolate Cherry Eton Mess.
Now, don’t be intimidated when you see the ingredient list and instructions – I know it looks long. But both the cherries and the meringues can be made ahead of time. I used the exact same vegan meringues I used a few weeks ago at Christmas time, except this time I added some finely chopped dark chocolate. I tried, several times, to incorporate cocoa powder for extra chocolateliness, but every time, the meringues fell. But the chopped dark chocolate added the hint of chocolate that I was looking for.
When it comes time to serve your Eton Mess, make sure you serve it immediately after you assemble it. Otherwise the liquid from the cherry sauce will seep into your nice crisp meringues and turn them into a pile of mush – not exactly the contrasting textures we’re going for with an Eton Mess. Don’t like cherries? Feel free to use fresh or frozen strawberries or raspberries instead.
- 24 ounce jar Dark Morello cherries in light syrup, syrup divided
- 3 Tablespoons granulated sugar
- 2 Tablespoons cornstarch
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
- 1/2 cup liquid from canned chickppeas (from a 14 ounce can)
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar
- 1 ounce dark chocolate, grated or chopped fine
- 1 cup whipping cream
- 1 Tablespoon granulated sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 ounce dark chocolate, shaved with a vegetable peeler
Pour the cherries and their juices into a medium saucepan, reserving 1/4 cup of the juice in a small bowl or measuring cup. Stir in the sugar and bring to a boil over medium high heat.
Meanwhile, whisk the cornstarch into the reserved cherry juice. When the cherries come to a boil, whisk the juice/cornstarch mixture into the cherries. Continue to simmer, reducing heat to medium if the boiling becomes rapid, until the juice thickens a syrupy consistency. Remove cherries from heat and stir in the vanilla and almond extract. Cool completely then chill until ready to use.
Heat oven to 200°F. Line a two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.
Add chickpea liquid, vanilla extract and cream of tartar to the bowl of a stand mixer (or a large bowl).
Beat on high speed and slowly add the sugar while the mixer is running. Continue beating until the mixture forms stiff peaks (about 6-7 minutes). Gently fold in the chopped chocolate.
Pipe or spoon the meringue into small dollops about 1 inch apart onto your prepared baking sheets.
Bake for 1.5-2.5 hours. The meringues will not brown, or really look any different when they are done. To tell if they are done, carefully remove one cookie and allow it to cool. It is done when it is crisp and dry all the way through (though some people like them chewy in the center). If you are looking for that chewy center, be sure to start testing them at 1.5 hours. If you like them dry all the way through, or make them large, they will need to cook longer. Store in an airtight container as soon as they are cool. They are best eaten quickly, especially if it's humid. They will begin to soften quickly in the humidity.
Add cream, sugar and vanilla to a medium bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer. Beat on medium high speed until it forms soft peaks.
Break 2-4 (depending on how big they are) meringues per serving (total of 12-24 meringues) into pieces and place into 6 dessert bowls. Top each with cherry sauce and a large dollop of whipped cream. Sprinkle each with dark chocolate shavings. Serve immediately.
If you can't find canned cherries or you don't have time to make the sauce from scratch, you can substitute canned cherry pie filling, but it may be more filling and less cherries.
Make ahead instructions: The cherry sauce can be made ahead of time and refrigerated for up to a week. The meringues can be made ahead of time and stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week. Make the whipped cream at the same time you're going to assemble the Eton Mess
Dark Chocolate Cherry Eton Mess Nutrition Notes:
The majority of the fat in this dessert comes from the whipped cream, and it comes with a large amount of saturated fat. If you want to cut back on calories and fat, keep the dollop of whipped cream on top of your Eton Mess small. If you follow a vegan or non-dairy diet, you can use canned coconut milk (regular, not light) or coconut cream to make vegan whipped cream.