Using Nigella Lawson's recipe from the foodnetwork.com, I made this incredible chocolate raspberry pavlova for a pre-4th of July dinner party at the lovely home of family friends. I was a little nervous about providing the dessert, because the hostess is known to be a Little Miss Martha Stewart herself and has had her home - and fully-equipped jealousy-inducing kitchen - photographed many times for Pottery Barn. Luckily, this light and airy treat turned out beautifully, was a great "make ahead" dish, and was a crowd-pleaser, leaving a few coming back for seconds.
Pavlovas are made with stiffly beaten egg whites, so you don't even need a pan for the baking. Just draw a circle on parchment paper, flip the paper over (it still shows through), and then shape the egg whites on the paper.
I made the base the night before, but being slightly a perfectionist (and like I said before, a bit nervous!) I wasn't happy with it and ended up making it again the next morning. A couple of tips so you don't make the same mistakes I did:
- Fully beat your egg whites! I was using a hand mixer, and my first batch wasn't stiff enough. It took me about 10 minutes of additional beating to achieve the right consistency.
- Be patient with the bake times and cool down - I prematurely pulled mine out of the oven and it was underbaked and flopped in the middle. The next time when I left it in the oven to cool down for a few hours turned out much better.
- Do use superfine sugar if you are concerned about a grainier texture.
A fully baked and puffy pavlova! The chopped chocolate in the (what do you even call it? batter?) inside makes for a nice texture contrast and the whipped cream and tart raspberries help to cut the sweetness. This time, I whipped up plain cream with a little vanilla but no extra sweetening.
And the final result was. so. delicious.
I would definitely make this one again, especially for hosting or bringing to a party. You can make the shell ahead of time and then whip up the cream and throw on the berries right before serving, so you don't have to spend too much time in the kitchen when you have guests.
A perfect light dessert for summer.
Special thanks to my friend Carolyn who recommended the recipe and has whipped this up by hand with a whisk while studying abroad in Paris. Can you believe that?!
For the Meringue Base:
6 large egg whites
2 cups superfine sugar
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
1 teaspoon balsamic or red wine vinegar
2 ounces dark chocolate, finely chopped
For the Toppings:
2 cups heavy cream
4 cups raspberries
1 to 2 ounces dark chocolate
- Prepare the pan: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment. Draw a 9-inch-diameter circle on the paper with a pencil, tracing a round cake tin that size.
- Flip the paper over so your meringue doesn't touch the pencil marks - you'll still be able to see the circle.
- Make the meringue: Beat the egg whites with a mixer until satiny peaks form, and then beat in the sugar a spoonful at a time until the meringue is stiff and shiny.
- Add the chocolate: Sprinkle the cocoa, vinegar and then the chopped chocolate over the egg whites. Gently fold everything with a rubber spatula until the cocoa is thoroughly mixed in.
- Shape the meringue: Secure the parchment to the baking sheet with a dab of meringue under each corner. Mound the meringue onto the parchment within the circle, smoothing the sides and the top with a spatula.
- Decorate the Pavlova: Whisk the cream till thick but still soft and pile it on top of the meringue, then scatter the raspberries on top. Coarsely grate the chocolate haphazardly over the top so that you get curls of chocolate rather than rubble, as you don't want the raspberries' luscious color and form to be obscured. You want the Pavlova to look like a frosted cake.