Two desserts I absolutely adore are pavlovas and anything chocolatey and this recipe combines the two (plus it even includes some fruit, so I can pretend it's good for me too!)
|The Finished Product|
The chocolate pavlova base is a Nigella Lawson recipe that she recommends as a summer dessert but I think that the chocolate cream I've combined with it adds a richness that will see it through the winter months also.
Serves: 8 - 10 Difficulty Level: Medium
Ingredients:For the Chocolate Pavlova: (a Nigella Lawson recipe)
6 Egg Whites
300g Caster Sugar
3 Tbsp Sieved Cocoa Powder
1 Tsp Balsamic Vinegar
50g Finely Chopped Dark Chocolate
For the Topping:
250ml Double Cream (or Non-Dairy Whipping Cream)
125g Dark Chocolate
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
Fruit to Decorate (I used half a punnet each of cherries & strawberries and used the leftover fruit as part of a fruit platter)
2-3 Pieces Refrigerated Dark Chocolate for grating
Instructions:1. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Draw a circle on a piece of baking parchment (make your circle a few centimetres smaller than your cake plate) and place upside down on a baking tray. Finely chop your chocolate and leave to one side (I leave some fragments a little chunkier so you can taste it throughout the pavlova).
2. Place your egg whites into an immaculately clean, large mixing bowl (a metal bowl is the best for making pavlovas so if you have a Kenwood Chef this would be a perfect time to use it but I often use a ceramic mixing bowl and my pavlovas haven't failed yet!) and beat them on a medium speed using an electric whisk until they form firm peaks.
3. Beat in the caster sugar, a large spoonful at a time and then turn your whisk up to the highest setting and beat for a few minutes until the meringue mixture is stiff and shiny. You'll know that all the sugar is incorporated by testing a sample of the mixture between your fingers. If you can't feel the grains of sugar then you're done. If the mixture still feels grainy then whisk a little longer but be careful not to over whisk as your meringue will collapse.
4. Sprinkle the cocoa, vinegar and chopped chocolate over the meringue mixture and gently fold until thoroughly incorporated. Your pavlova mixture will now look deliciously chocolatey.
5. Spoon a teaspoonful of the mixture under each corner of the baking parchment and stick the parchment onto your baking tray - this will prevent the baking parchment from moving in the oven.
6. Spoon the rest of the mixture into the middle of your circle on the baking parchment and use a palette knife or spatula to spread the mixture into a luscious circle.
7. Place in the oven and immediately turn the temperature down to 150°C. Cook for about one to one and a quarter hours. When it's ready it will look crisp around the edges and sides and will be dry on top, but if you prod the centre it will feel deliciously squidgy underneath.
8. Take the pavlova out of the oven and leave to cool. I often make the pavlova the night before a dinner party and simply finish the topping just before my guests arrive.
9. To make the topping melt the chocolate in a double boiler (a Pyrex bowl placed above a pan of gently simmering water) and then leave it to cool while you whip the cream to form soft peaks. Then gently fold the melted chocolate and vanilla essence into the whipped cream.
10. Turn your pavlova onto your cake stand (I find the easiest way to do this is to hold the pavlova with one hand and to bring the upside down cake stand until it is just touching the pavlova. Then simultaneously turn the cake stand the right way up with the pavlova, resulting in the pavlova sitting upside down on the cake stand.)
11. Now dollop the chocolate cream onto the pavlova and spread towards the edges. Decorate with your chosen fruit and grate the refrigerated chocolate over to finish.