I really didn’t think I was going to pull off pavlovas. In my head they were the most complicated thing to bake and since I’ve maybe eaten a pavlova once in my life, I wasn’t even sure I was going to like it! But, as always, where this is chocolate, there is a way.
Crispy on the outside, with gooey, marshmallow like interiors, a pavlova is basically a meringue made with whipped egg whites and sugar. Adding cocoa and dark chocolate makes it more flavourful and fun, obviously.
A ton of freshly whipped cream and fresh fruit is traditional to serve on top of a pavlova. I went with homemade cherry compote plus fresh cherries because ’tis the season!
The one thing that gets in the way of making a pavlova is how much you need to beat the egg whites. While a stand mixer is a huge boon here, you can also use a hand mixer and a bowl but know that it will take longer and be much more of an arm workout! It’s not impossible though, so don’t knock it till you try it.
This recipe is from Nigella Lawson creation and I found an adaptation of it on Smitten Kitchen. Apart from making my own topping, I really didn’t change much because this was my first time making a pavlova and I wasn’t planning to play around much!
I read a lot of scary things about how making pavlova in humid weather is just the worst idea ever but I found that egg whites whipped up just fine, the pavlova did not fall and the texture was exactly the way it was supposed to be. If this worked out in 77% humidity, I’m sure it can’t be too hard!
The Kitchn has lots of useful tips on making meringue, definitely take a look.
I will say that if you don’t have an oven that accommodates multiple trays at a time, bake this as one 9″ pavlova, trust me. I thought of making them as mini ones, and some got burnt because they were too close to the heating rods. So even if your oven has space for more than one tray, make sure there’s also plenty of space between the tray and the rod!
A pavlova when baked properly, has a firm and dry top and will most likely crack. Some will crack more than others, don’t worry about it. It tastes like a macaron which isn’t surprising since they’re both meringue based, but this particular one is of course chocolatey, almost like a brownie! Soft and chewy and crispy all at once.
Cocoa powder and chopped dark chocolate provide some incredible flavour here and I don’t think a regular pavlova would cut it for me anymore! It is sweeter than anything I would normally make, but sugar is needed for the perfect meringue. So unsweetened whipped cream and a sour cherry compote helps balance it all out.
The pavlova itself doesn’t take very long to make, but it does take a while to cook. It’s an unusual dessert that you can basically decorate as you like which means summer fruits galore! Let me know how you like this 🙂
Please read the recipe notes before beginning.
- For the pavlova
- 6 egg whites*
- 1 and ½ cups caster sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tsp vinegar
- ¼ cocoa powder, sifted
- ¼ tsp salt
- 50 gms dark chocolate, finely chopped
- For the topping
- 200 gms fresh cherries
- 2 to 3 tbsps caster sugar
- ¼ tsp cinnamon powder
- ⅓ cup chilled whipping cream
- Preheat the oven to 175 C. If baking mini pavlovas in batches, line three baking trays with silicone mats. Otherwise use just one tray for a large pavlova. Set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, begin whipping the egg whites on medium speed. They will gradually become very frothy and thicken. When you lift the beater, it will leave a train in the egg whites and you will see 'soft peaks' formed by the whites as well.
- Add the sugar spoon by spoon, keeping the mixer running and increase the speed gradually. Wait till the sugar has dissolved before adding the next spoonful. In a few minutes, the meringue will thicken and become glossy. Continue adding sugar and letting the mixer run till you see 'stiff peaks' formed when you lift the beaters.
- Add the vanilla and vinegar and beat very quickly to combine. Then fold in the cocoa, salt and chopped chocolate very gently, so as not not deflate the meringue. It's ok if it looks like a swirly brown and white mixture, err on the side of under-mixing rather than over mixing. Voila! You're basically done!
- Drop the entire mixture out onto the baking tray and mould into a 9" circle. Try and leave the sides a little higher so that you can fill the center with cream and fruit. If making mini pavlovas, use about ½ cup meringue per pavlova.
- Place in the oven and immediately turn the temperature down to 150 C. If baking multiple batches, place them all in the oven at the same time, making sure the trays are not too close to the top or bottom racks.
- Bake for about 1 hour until the top of the pavlova feels dry and firm to the touch. Cracking is normal and the inside will be a little gooey, like a warm marshmallow! Allow to cool inside the oven because the sudden temperature change could cause more cracking.
- To make the cherry compote, combine the cherries, sugar and cinnamon in a small saucepan on low heat. Stir till the cherries have softened and released their juices. Bring to a boil, then set aside to cool.
- When ready to serve (pavlovas are best on the day they're made, especially in humid environments), whip the cream till soft peaks form, spoon it onto the tops of the pavlova, and finish with the cherry compote. If storing leftovers, make sure they're in the fridge. Enjoy!
*The sugar must be caster sugar or any other fine grained sugar so that it dissolves properly in the egg whites. Reducing the sugar quantity is not a good idea because it will affect the stability of the meringue.
*If making this as one 9" pavlova, use ½ cup whipping cream.