Chocolate Pavlova Recipe:
4 large egg whites (120 grams), at room temperature
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar (or lemon juice)
1 cup (200 grams) superfine (castor) sugar
1 teaspoon white distilled vinegar (can use a flavored vinegar)
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon cornstarch (corn flour)
2 tablespoons (15 grams) unsweetened cocoa powder (Dutch processed or regular unsweetened)
1 ounce (30 grams) semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped (optional)
1 cup (240 ml) cold heavy whipping cream (cream with a 35-40% butterfat content)
1 tablespoon (15 grams) granulated white sugar (or to taste)
Fresh Fruit - passion fruit, raspberries, blackberries, strawberries, cherries, peaches, slices of oranges, gooseberries, and kiwi fruit are some good choices
Chocolate Pavlova: Preheat your oven to 300 degrees F (150 degrees C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and draw a 7 inch (18 cm) circle on the parchment paper. Turn the parchment paper over so the circle is on the reverse side.
In the bowl of your electric mixer, with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites and the cream of tartar on medium speed until you have soft peaks. Then add the sugar, a tablespoon at a time, and continue to beat, on high speed, until the meringue is shiny and holds stiff peaks. (Test to see if the sugar is fully dissolved by rubbing a little of the meringue between your fingers. The meringue should feel smooth, not gritty. If it feels gritty the sugar has not fully dissolved so keep beating until it feels smooth.) Then add the vanilla extract and vinegar and beat until combined. Using a small strainer, sift the cocoa powder and cornstarch over the top of the meringue and, with a rubber spatula, fold in. If you like you can then fold in the chopped chocolate.
Before placing the meringue on your baking sheet, put a dab of the meringue on the underside of each corner of the parchment paper. This will prevent the paper from sliding or lifting up. Then gently pile the meringue inside the circle drawn on the parchment paper, smoothing the edges.
Place the baking sheet into the oven and immediately reduce the oven temperature to 250 degrees F (120 degrees C). Bake the Pavlova for about 60 - 75 minutes or until the outside is dry. (The outside of the meringue will feel firm to the touch, when gently pressed. There may be some cracks and you will see that the inside is soft and moist.) Turn the oven off, leave the door slightly ajar, and let the meringue cool completely in the oven (about two hours).
The cooled meringue can be made and stored in a cool dry place, in an airtight container, for a few days.
Shortly before serving gently place the meringue on your serving plate. Whip the cold cream and sugar in your electric mixer, with the whisk attachment (can use a hand mixer or a wire whisk), until soft peaks form. Mound the whipped cream into the center of the meringue and arrange the fruit on top of the cream. Serve immediately as this dessert does not hold well.
Makes 8 servings.
A Pavlova is a light and airy dessert that tops a meringue cake with whipped cream and fresh fruit. I love how the outside crust of the sweet tasting meringue cake is nice and crisp yet inside it's so wonderfully soft, almost marshmallowy. For this recipe I have made a Chocolate Pavlova which is slightly different than a regular Pavlova, in that unsweetened cocoa powder is folded into the meringue. The cocoa powder colors the meringue beautifully and provides a mild chocolate flavor.
A Pavlova belongs to the meringue family but it is an unusual meringue in that a little cornstarch (corn flour) and vinegar are added to the beaten egg whites and sugar. It is important when making any meringue that the egg whites reach maximum volume, so make sure your mixing bowl and whisk are clean and free of grease. Since we need just the whites of the eggs, the eggs will need to be separated. It is easier to do this while the eggs are still cold. Once separated, cover the egg whites and let them come to room temperature before using (about 30 minutes). Cover and refrigerate the egg yolks for another use. I like to use superfine sugar (castor), instead of granulated white sugar, as it dissolves faster and easier into the egg whites. I know superfine sugar can be quite expensive to buy, so a good solution is to make your own by processing 1 cup (200 grams) granulated white sugar in your food processor until very fine, about 30 - 60 seconds.
You may want to serve the Pavlova the way many Australians do, and that is to turn the Pavlova upside down on the serving plate. This has the advantage of keeping the base of the Pavlova nice and crisp. While passion fruit is the traditional fruit for a Pavlova, you really can use any type of fresh fruit. Some good choices are raspberries, blackberries, strawberries, cherries, gooseberries, peaches, oranges, kiwi fruit, and I think pomegranate seeds would be great as well. While you can make the meringue cake a day or two before serving, don't top with the whipped cream and fruit until shortly before serving as the cream does soften and break down the meringue.