This is for my friend Aaisha of BakingPartTime. Last time she was over for a brunch party at our place, I made two pavlovas – one classic and one chocolate. I’ve posted the classic recipe before, but this time around I’m serving up the chocolate version. By the way, can you tell we are crazy about pavlovas around here? If you haven’t had one – it’s high time to try. They hail from New Zealand, where my husband spent a good part of his teenage years. I love this man more than anything, but I love him a wee bit more for introducing me to this dessert. A welcome change of pace from cakes or cookies. Much easier to prepare than a pie. They are just the most perfect dessert to have in your arsenal. They are a winner presentation wise, as well. They just have the wow factor, but are deceptively easy to assemble, kind of like a trifle. You just whip up some egg whites with sugar. Bake it low and slow for 45 min to 1 hour. Once cooled, top with whipped cream and fruit (or chocolate). The original recipe suggests topping it with strawberries and chocolate sauce. I didn’t have strawberries on hand, or the time to assemble the chocolate sauce, so I just have the bare bones version here. If you haven’t worked with whipped egg whites before, you needn’t worry. Just have patience. They take a while to whip up to the right consistency, unlike whipped cream (which I’ve turned into butter many times just by looking away for a minute).
If you’ve had plain meringues, then you might not think this dessert would amount to anything. Meringues have a tendency to be cloyingly sweet. But with the topping of just slightly sweetened cream, and the complexity of the chocolate (or in most cases a fruit topping), the combination of textures and flavors is just divine. The outside of the meringue is crisp. The inner part melts in your mouth, kind of like a marshmallow. The cream eases the sweetness and ties all the flavors together. The original recipe calls for superfine sugar – something I never have on hand – and for the chocolate in the meringue to be grated – something for which I have no patience. So, I swapped out superfine sugar for granulated sugar and was not in the least bit disappointed. I also finely chopped instead of grated the chocolate, which I think is for the best really. If you’re grating chocolate by hand, it’s going to melt all over your hands (which is probably not the worst problem to have). Don’t worry about the crackly appearance. I’ve tried every trick in the book for keeping it from cracking and nothing’s worked. Take comfort in the fact that it gets smothered and mostly concealed by the toppings. Feel free to top it with chopped strawberries, raspberries or even blackberries.
Adapted from Easy Desserts: Deliciously Indulgent Treats
- 4 large egg whites
- 1 cup granulated sugar plus 1 tbsp
- a pinch of salt
- 1 tsp cornstarch
- 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tsp white wine vinegar (or lemon juice)
- 4 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
- 1 1/4 cup heavy cream
- semi sweet chocolate bar, for grating
- Preheat oven to 275 degrees F. Draw a 9 in circle on a piece of parchment paper. Place it pencil side down on a baking sheet and sprinkle on some cornstarch. Spread the cornstarch over the area of the circle.
- Whisk the egg whites and salt (preferably with your stand mixer or with a hand held electric mixer) until soft peaks form. Gradually add in 1 cup of the sugar. Whisk in the cornstarch, cocoa, vanilla and vinegar.
- Add the chopped chocolate and fold carefully. That is – take a rubber spatula, cut through the eggs whites down the middle, moving to the left, lift spatula from the bottom to the top. Rotate bowl, and repeat until chocolate is incorporated. See demonstration here.
- Bake in preheated oven for 45 minutes. Allow to cool.
- Whip cream until soft peaks form. Add sugar and continue beating, just shy of firm peaks. Top cooled pavlova with whipped cream, and garnish with grated semi sweet chocolate, if desired.