Coconut Rhubarb Mess

I made meringues for the first time.

I made them on a rainy, damp day. The egg whites didn’t get as fluffy as I hoped, and in their raw form, they looked more like melted marshmallow. I was already discouraged, but I thought to bake them anyway. I spooned the liquid, pearl-white, thick mixture into my muffin tins so that it would stay in place. I turned on the oven at the suggested temperature. I waited. And to my big surprise, I saw them growing rapidly inside their beds. They grew and formed mushroom tops that became increasingly golden and firm. I removed them from the oven with a mixture of fear and hope. I thought  they were too pretty to be true, and that given how it all began, they would collapse as soon as they were out.

But they didn’t. They stayed up and crispy. I waited for them to cool. I tried to pick one from its mould, but the bottom remained attached to the edges of the tin. I turned the meringue upside down in my hand and looked underneath the crispy top, which had a strange, jellyfish-like look. Its centre was soft and chewy, almost like cotton candy. Half a meringue, one-fourth a macaroon,  the rest a marshmallow. Something without much of a definition, an identity, something that didn’t really fit into any category, and yet, something good enough to be used, to be eaten and enjoyed.

The whole point of making meringues was not about the meringues at all, actually. I wanted to make Eton Mess, the oh-so-very-British Summer dessert featuring strawberries, meringues and cream, using some rhubarb I put my earthy hands on some days before in place of strawberries. The rest came along easily.

Coconut Rhubarb Mess

serves 4
For the roasted rhubarb:
3 stems of rhubarb, chopped
2 tbsp caster sugar
1 tbsp lemon juice

1 tsp vanilla essence

Preheat the oven to 180C. Place the all the ingredients into a baking pan, stir to coat evenly, and bake for 20 minutes, or until the rhubarb is soft. Remove and let cool.

For the meringues:
3 egg whites at room temperature
3/4 cup caster sugar

a pinch of salt

Reduce the temperature to 150C. Place the egg whites and salt in a large, glass bowl and start beating at medium speed. When they start to get fluffy, add the sugar 1 tbsp at a time. Whisk until stiff peaks form, or until all the sugar is dissolved (don’t do like me). Line a baking sheet with parchment, and ease the meringue on using a spoon. Leave a gap between meringues so that they can grow. Bake for 1 hour and a half for a cripsy result, or 1 hour and 15 minutes for a softer centre. Turn off the oven and open it, letting the meringues cool inside. Let cool completely before breaking into rough pieces. Set aside.

For the coconut whipped cream:
2 cans of full-fat coconut milk

3 tablespoons icing sugar

Place the cans of coconut milk in the fridge at leat 2 hours before use. Without shaking the cans, remove the lids and scoop the cream at the top into a medium bowl. Add the sugar and beat until fluffy and light. Place back into the fridge until ready to use.

1/4 cup coconut chips, toasted

1 tbsp dried rose petals

Assemble your mess by spooning some rhubarb at the bottom of four medium cups. Add the crumbled meringue, then a spoonful of coconut cream, top with some coconut chips and a pinch of petals; repeat in the same order one more time. Serve.


  1. barbaraT @ pane-burro June 11, 2013

    stavo giustappunto collezionando un po' di ricettine con il rabarbaro, visto che una mia amica ne sta coltivando un bel po' nel suo giardino e un mazzo mi arriverà (per la prima volta) questo fine settimana.. questa qui mi piace da matti, anche se ometterei il cocco perché a me non piace.. è un delitto? pensi che funzionerebbe anche senza o dovrei sostituirlo con qualcos'altro? p.s. l'ultima foto è stupenda, luce perfetta..

    • Valeria June 16, 2013

      non è affatto un delitto! Puoi usare panna classica, e omettere le chips (magari puoi aggiungerci dei pistacch tritati come elemento croccante!) 🙂 secondo me viene buono in centomila modi diversi, eheh. ah, quanto alla foto: prendo e metto in saccoccia il tuo giudizio, che credimi, ha davvero tanto valore (grazie!).

  2. Emiko June 11, 2013

    Beautiful Val! Being Australian, I think it's obligatory that I know how to make meringues for pavlova, which I have made hundreds of times and not always successfully (damn those damp rainy days! Or holidays in sub-tropical coastal areas!). That crisp shell and marshmallowy inside is the perfect description for a pavlova, which I think your recipe here would translate beautifully for – fill with your coconut whipped cream (note to self: must try) and top with rhubarb (roasted! lovely! I always stew it but will now try it roasted), petals and coconut crunch… just lovely. Then of course if something goes wrong (or right, as the case may be), it can always be transformed into these cute little messes. My next pavlova will be based on this!

    • Valeria June 16, 2013

      Can't wait to see it -and now you gave me a dangerously daring idea…:D

  3. La Cucina Spontanea June 11, 2013

    Tutte le volte che vedo una ricetta con il rabarbaro mi scende una lacrima. Purtroppo dalle mie parti sembra introvabile, o trovo il modo di coltivarlo da sola oppure dovrò rassegnarmi a piangere su libri e pc.
    Davanti a questa ricetta di lacrime me ne sono scesa più di una, perché mi piace veramente molto, ma purtroppo per adesso posso solo sbavare davanti alle tue splendide foto.

    • Valeria June 16, 2013

      eh ti capisco, anch'io non sono mai riuscita a trovarlo in Italua…beh, secondo me in questo caso vanno benissimo anche le fragole arrostite, e mi sa anzi anzi che ci provo anche con quelle, la prossima volta 😛

  4. Babs June 11, 2013

    l'eleganza che fai trasparire da ogni tua foto o scritto, è veramente rara.

  5. Mariela June 11, 2013

    Beautiful! I am so glad to have stumbled across your blog 🙂

    • Valeria June 16, 2013

      Thank you, Mariela. Same for me, I love your content, you'll see me there often now 😀

  6. thelittleloaf June 11, 2013

    This recipe is utterly gorgeous! I've just been making messes (!) too, but absolutely have to try your version – so elegant looking.

    • Valeria June 16, 2013

      Kate, I've seen yours –raspberries? OMG, I must try it. I love raspberries (and pistachios!), and my mum has a prolific bush at home that i'll have access to in a couple of weeks…can't wait.

  7. Please July 2, 2016

    I am very “novice”. What is CASTOR sugar, and what is the difference from ICING sugar?
    Are ALL rose petals edible?
    Would Love to try. I am almost Professional at NOT getting egg whites to stiffen!

    Thanks for the idea and information.
    Sorry about the duplicate, I forgot to put the heck mark in the little boxes below.!!!

    • Valeria July 20, 2016

      Hello, Caster sugar is a superfine sugar, but not fine to the point of being powdered. Rose petals are edible as long as they haven’t been treated with pesticides. You can buy dried rose petals in many spice shops, and those are certainly edible. To make sure your egg whites will whip up to firm peaks, have them at room temperature and use very clean equipment and a glass or metal bowl as any trace of grease will make the task much harder. Hope this all helps.


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