A Chocolate Pavlova looks impressive and should your guests love their sweets, you will be the toast of the party. Yes, the meringue might collapse or crack on you on an unfortunate day but that can be covered up with whipped cream and fruit. It will still have that yummy chocolatey ‘fudginess’ and no one will be the wiser that it was not a good bake day. This recipe is adapted from Nigella Lawson -I think it’s her best dessert recipe.  Be forewarned, this is a sweet, sweet dessert. 

Chocolate Pavlova, Gluten Free Dessert

Prep: 20 minutes 
Cook: 60 to 75 minutes for four 6″ (15 cm) meringues.
75 to 90 minutes for one 9″ (23 cm) meringue.
In areas of high humidity, it might take an additional 15 to 30 minutes for the meringue(s) to crisp up.
Inactive: 3 hours or until the meringue completely cools down.
Level: Intermediate
Makes: Four  6″ (15 cm) pavlovas OR  one 9″ (23 cm) pavlova.
Oven Temperature: 360 F (180 C) and then reduce immediately to 300 F (150 C) once meringue is placed in oven.
Can recipe be doubled? No
Make ahead? The meringue keeps well in an air tight container for up to 4 days without the whipped cream, fruits and any other toppings on it. The cream can be whipped, covered and kept refrigerated a few hours ahead.

Ingredients

5 egg whites (3/4 cups)*
1/4 teaspoon Cream of Tartar**
1 cup and 2 Tablespoons (8.81 oz) (250g) caster/super fine sugar***
1 teaspoon vinegar (any kind)/lemon juice*
2 Tablespoons cocoa powder
1.41 oz (40g) bittersweet chocolate**
2 cups whipping/thickened/double cream***
3 punnets of raspberries, each punnet weighs 6 oz (170 g)
Strawberry jam*
Chocolate balls/bittersweet chocolate chips/roughly cut bittersweet chocolate/chocolate pearls**
* There should be no trace of yolks in the egg whites. Even if there is a tiny trace, you must start over with fresh eggs as the egg whites will not whip up.
** This helps to stabilise and hold the structure of the whipped egg whites and prevents a pool of liquid egg white that might otherwise form at the bottom of the bowl of whipped egg whites.
*** 
Do not cut down on the sugar. Do use caster or superfine sugar. Larger sugar crystals will not dissolve completely into the egg whites.
* Helps to stabilise the whipped egg whites.
** I use Valrhona -Guanaja 70% cocoa minimum.
*** Do not substitute with single/cooking/pouring cream as it does not contain enough of a fat content for it to whip up. The cream should have at least a minimum fat content of 35%.
* Try making my easy recipe for Strawberry Jam Simplified.
** I use Valrhona Crunchy Chocolate Pearls as I do not like cutting up chocolate and I like the crunch from Valrhona’s Crunchy Chocolate Pearls. 

Method

1. Turn on the oven to 360F (180C). Position the oven rack to lower middle.

Cut up the chocolate
1. Cut up the 1.41 oz (40g) bittersweet chocolate into rough pieces/chunks.

Prepare your baking tray
1. Do take the size of your oven into account when deciding what size of a meringue to bake. If you have a smaller sized oven, your only option might be to bake a 9″ (23 cm) meringue.
2 .Whichever size you choose, you have to draw out a template for your meringue. Simple enough. Have a sheet of parchment paper that will fit onto your baking tray. For a 9″ meringue, use a 9″ dinner plate and with a pencil, trace a circle on the parchment paper. Remove the plate, turn over the parchment paper and use the unpenciled side to pile on the whipped egg whites. To make four 6″ (15 cm) meringues, use a 6″ plate to trace 4 circles on the parchment paper. Leave a 1 and 1/2″ to 2″ (4 to 5 cm) space between circles as the egg whites will expand.

Whipping the egg whites
1. Clean the mixing bowl and whisk with a wedge of lemon or a vinegar soaked kitchen paper towel. This removes any trace of grease that might prevent your egg whites from being whipped up properly2. Start whisking the egg whites on medium speed until it is frothy.

2. Add the Cream of Tartar and continue whisking.

3. After 1 to 2  minutes, when the egg whites have reached stiff peaks (hold it’s peak without flopping to the side) and with the mixer running, gradually add 1 Tablespoon of sugar. I take 8 to 10 seconds to add every tablespoon of sugar. Let the mixer run for a full 10 seconds before adding the next tablespoon of sugar. You must add it 1 Tablespoon at a time to ensure that the egg whites can be whipped up into beautiful glossy stiff peaks. Do the same for the rest of the sugar. This process should take about 5 to 8 minutes.
4. As soon as the egg whites have been whipped to stiff glossy peaks, check that all the sugar has been incorporated by rubbing a little of the egg whites between two fingers. If you do not feel any grains of sugar, all is good. Refrain from over whipping as the meringue might weep or collapse in the oven from over whipping.

5. Fold in the vinegar and cocoa powder. Finally, quickly and gently fold in the 1.41 oz (40 g) of roughly chopped bittersweet chocolates. Do not overfold.

Bake
1. Remember penciled side of parchment paper faces down. Prevent your parchment paper from shifting on the baking tray, dab tiny amounts of whipped egg whites on the baking tray. Stick the parchment paper on the tray.
2. Pile the whipped egg whites onto the pre-drawn circle(s) with the help of 2 spoons, pile the sides at least 2″ (5 cm) high and as straight as you can get it.
3. Put the tray into the oven and turn down the temperature straight away to 300 F (150 C). If you are baking a larger sized meringue, for instance, a 9″ one, it needs to bake in the oven slightly longer, 75 to 90 minutes. If you are baking smaller sized pavlovas, for instance, four of the 6″ (15 cm) ones, it needs 60 to 75 minutes baking time. If you stay in an area with high humidity, don’t be surprised if it takes another 15 to 30 minutes, and sometimes even longer for the meringue to crisp up. Do not be tempted to open the oven door to check on the meringues before the allocated baking time (unless of course it smells like it is burning – unlikely). You risk the meringue collapsing if you open that oven door before the required baking time. Be patient.
4. When the house starts to smell of chocolate meringues, you know it is about done. Open the oven door gently and even more gently prod the centre of the meringue with you finger. It should feel firm and crisp. It should have a feel of firm hollowness underneath the crisp. Turn off the oven if it has reached this stage. Use a wooden spoon or a rolled up tea towel to leave a 5 cm gap between the oven door and the oven. This allows the meringue to cool ever so slowly and decrease the chances of it collapsing as it cools. If it still needs to continue baking, let it bake for another 10 minutes before checking on it. The idea is not to open the oven door more than is necessary.

What if it collapses or cracks?
Don’t fret. Just cover it up with whipped cream and fruit. It is going to collapse and break apart once you cut into it anyway. No use worrying over it. It will be yummy. If you are still nervous about serving anything less than a perfect pavlova, scroll down to ‘Tips’ and ‘What’s Coming Up Next?’. I have a dessert you can make from less than perfect chocolate meringue(s).

Storing the meringue
If you are not serving it straight away, leave it on the parchment paper and store in an airtight container for up to 4 days. Be careful as you transfer the meringue(s). It is fragile. When I bake more than one meringue, to separate them, I normally use a super sharp pen knife to cut the parchment paper between meringues before I store them in my containers. Using a pair of scissors will mostly likely wreak the meringues. You could choose to cut squares of parchment paper to fit the size of the meringues you will be baking.  Remember it still needs a 2″(5 cm) border.

To serve and removing meringue from parchment paper
1. To remove the meringue from the parchment paper, I use a cake lifter to dislodge it. You could use a large cookie spatula or a flat utensil (palette knife, bench scraper). You could also invert the meringue over your serving plate and peel off the parchment paper. That means you will be serving the meringue bottom side up.
2. Whip the whipping cream until they have stiff peaks. Do not over beat the cream or you will end up with butter. Nothing you can do but to start with another

batch of cream. Use up the ‘butter’ to make yourself an omelette or use it to replace some of the milk/butter in my recipe for Hamburger Buns, Savoury Buns.
3. Spread whipped cream onto meringue, drizzle my Home Made Strawberry Jam, dot it with raspberries and throw over your choice of chocolate.
4. Enjoy the Chocolate Pavlova(s) immediately. They will not stay pretty looking for more than 10 minutes depending on how hot and humid a day it is! Again, this is a really sweet dessert. Ration your sugar intake for the week!

 

Tips

Things to consider when deciding what size of a pavlova to make

I like to bake 4 smaller sized meringues (using the above recipe) instead of 1 larger one for the following reasons:

(1)From my experience, smaller sized meringues hold their shape better than larger ones.
(2) Meringues are brittle and once you start cutting into it to share amongst your diners, it will start to look progressively messier. It doesn’t help that the whipped cream and fruits on top of it will start to dislodge themselves as you continue to slice into it.
(3) Smaller sized pavlovas makes it easier for sharing. A couple could share one between themselves without the need for you to split it into two for them.
(4) Splitting a smaller sized pavlova is not only easier, it will look more presentable when served on a plate than the 1/6 slice cut from a 9″ pavlova.
(5) If I am not making pavlovas for entertaining, I can choose to serve 4 smaller sized pavlovas over a few days, use the extra meringues to make another dessert called Eton Mess (think crushed meringue, whipped cream and strawberries) or I can give them away (just the meringues) to my friends.

What to do with all the egg yolks?

Tiramisu
I cannot bring myself to use raw eggs in my dessert as there is always the risk of salmonella poisoning. However, Tiramisu is just not Tiramisu without eggs. I came up with a recipe that is between a custard and a Sabayon so not only is the Tiramisu I serve very safe for eating, it still has a wonderful richness that can only come from eggs. Click on this link, to read more, Tiramisu With Eggs But Without The Raw Eggs.

Creme Anglaise

Otherwise known as English Custard Sauce. This is a delicious sauce that can be used over so many desserts. It either complements the food it is served with or changes it altogether. For instance, Chocolate Cake is just chocolate cake when served as is. Serve it with this sauce and it is not just Chocolate Cake anymore. It becomes an even more decadent dessert and a very delicious one too. Creme Anglaise poured over raspberries becomes in an instant, dessert! How wonderfully easy.

WHAT’S COMING UP NEXT?

A chocolate meringue based Eton Mess! If you are apprehensive about serving a less than perfect Chocolate Pavlova to your guests, then make this dessert up with broken up chocolate meringue. It is just as good if not better and my friend in the fur coat agrees!

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