Coconut Rhubarb Mess

Rhubarb mess

After taking a few challenges off, I'm back to posting with First on the First. This month, the assignment was Eton Mess, a traditional English dessert consisting of strawberries, meringue, and cream. It has been said that this dessert is served at Eton College's annual cricket game against Harrow School. I had heard of Eton mess before the challenge, but never cared much to look closely at the recipe or make it myself. When it was assigned, I started to think about how I could put my own twist on the recipe. My brother and sister-in-law have a giant rhubarb plant consuming much of their garden. I stopped by one afternoon and picked some stalks to help them get rid of it, and for nostalgia sake, since my grandparents always grew rhubarb. I wasn't sure what I was going to do with the rhubarb at first. It sat in a glass on my counter waiting to be used. When the assignment for Eton mess was given, I searched Pinterest for a recipe. As luck would have it, one of the first recipes I came across was for this rhubarb mess. Perfect! While the meringues took a bit of time to cook, the rest of the recipe came together quickly. As you might be able to tell from the picture, I had a bit of difficulty with the coconut whipped cream, so I used the liquified "whipped cream" as a sauce instead. Even though Joel passed on the offer for this dessert, I enjoyed it very much!  

For the Meringues:
4 Egg Whites
1/2 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1/4 teaspoon Salt
1/2 cup Sugar
1 cup Powdered Sugar 

Place the egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer and allow them to come to room temperature for about 30 minutes. Add the vanilla and the salt, then beat on medium speed until foamy. Gradually add the sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating after each addition until the sugar has dissolved. Continue beating until stiff glossy peaks form, then fold in the powdered sugar. Carefully spoon the meringue onto a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Bake at 225 degrees for 40-45 minutes, or until firm to the touch. Turn the oven off; leave the meringues in the oven for about 1 1/2 more hours, leaving the oven door closed. Remove from the oven and cool completely on the baking sheet. Makes about 3 dozen 1.5 inch cookies.

For the Rhubarb:
3 Rhubarb Stems, chopped
2 tablespoons Sugar
1 tablespoon Lemon Juice
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract 

Mix the ingredients together in a baking dish and stir to coat evenly. Bake at 325 degrees for about 20 minutes, or until the rhubarb is soft. Remove from the oven and let the rhubarb cool slightly. 

For the Coconut Whipped Cream:
1 can Full Fat Coconut Milk
3 tablespoons Powdered Sugar 

About 2 hours before serving, place the can of coconut milk in the fridge to chill. Remove the can from the fridge and scoop the solid cream from the top of the can into a medium sized bowl. Stir in the powdered sugar and whisk the cream until light and fluffy. Use immediately. **NOTE: Most cans of coconut milk that I have seen tend to be upside down--meaning that in order to open the can, you have to turn the can upside down from the way that the label is. I did not think that far in advance, and therefore, ended up with the whole can of coconut milk instead of the hardened cream on the top. Keep that in mind if you plan to make this whipped cream. I did try to whip up the contents of the can of coconut milk, along with the powdered sugar, but I was unsuccessful, and was left with a liquid instead. 

To Assemble the Dessert:
Spoon some of the rhubarb into the bottom of a glass dish. Add some crumbled meringue and a spoonful of coconut cream. Repeat. Top with toasted coconut, if desired. 

SOURCE: Life Love Food, Meringues from Taste of Home