I found this recipe a while ago in the massive clutter-pile of food articles on my mother’s desk and I had been waiting to make it until raspberries were in season. But, staring at the gorgeous picture on the recipe, I just couldn’t wait any longer and so I made it a little ahead of schedule.
I was very excited to try this dessert (fun fact: it’s named after a ballet dancer and originated in New Zealand) as my mother had never made one (very surprising) and my father had never eaten one (more surprising). I was a little hesitant since the dessert is meringue-based (and I really, really hate meringues), but it was a simply fantastic little treat.
This recipe is simple and turned out perfectly, but from my pavlova research (courtesy of Google) I have found that there are several things that can go wrong with this dessert (and often do). The two biggest problems seemed to be with having your egg whites refuse to whip up (or having them collapse after the other ingredients were added in) and having the entire pavlova collapse once it was taken out of the oven. The solutions I found to these are at the bottom of this post (under tips); they were simple to do and I’m sure they worked since I didn’t experience any of these minor disasters.
Chocolate Raspberry Pavlova with Whipped Cream and Fresh Berries:
- 6 egg whites (room temp.)
- 300g powdered sugar (careful if you want to reduce the sugar, it may affect how well it whips up)
- 4 tablespoons cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
- 50g dark chocolate, chopped to smallish bits (I chopped mine to roughly the size of average chocolate chips, but don’t use actual chocolate chips, because they don’t incorporate or flavor the cake as well as chopped chocolate)
- 500ml heavy cream (this really depends on how much whip cream you want on top)
- 500g raspberries (again, this one’s more to taste/looks)
- 2–3 tablespoons coarsely grated dark chocolate (same as above)
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a large, shallow baking pan with a silpat pad (you can also use a similar non-stick mat or a baking sheet, this is just what I used)
- Beat your egg whites into peaks (the recipe was vague on what kind of peaks, so I did them somewhere between soft and stiff and it worked just fine). Little by little add in the sugar
- Add in the cocoa a tablespoon at a time, then add the balsamic vinegar (some recipes have you fold in the cocoa, but I beat it in)
- Fold in the chopped chocolate, take care not to crush your egg whites
- Pile the batter onto the baking sheet into a pile and carefully round and smooth out to a 9inch circle. You want a slight indent in the center, but don’t go gouging out a hole; it’s a slight indent
- Now, turn your oven down to 300°F, and set your pan (with the pavlova in it, of course) into the center of your oven. Bake for about 1 hour (mine took about 45 minutes, but my oven bakes a little faster than most). It’s done when the top is springy and it looks like every online picture of a chocolate pavlova. Careful checking this dessert; it’s very delicate, so only open your oven if you absolutely have to and try to open it as little as possible.
- When your pavlova is done, turn the oven off and open the door slightly to let the pavlova cool off (we just stuck a sturdy wooden spoon in the door to prop it open about an inch or two). Slight cracking may occur.
- When it’s cooled, take it out and either invert it onto a serving platter or carefully transfer it on (I had my gracious mother help me with this one, and we opted to transfer it by lifting it on the silpat liner and carefully folding the liner away until I was left holding the pavlova. This definitely requires two pairs of hands)
- Right before you’re ready to serve, whip up the heavy cream (you can add in some powdered sugar, but you’d essentially be sugaring a meringue and that’s most definitely not necessary). If you’re not planning on eating the entire pavlova in one sitting, I’d cut slices first (which, as you will see, is easier said than done) and then put the topping on those pieces. Otherwise, your cream will sit on the pavlova and make it soggy, etc.
- Finish it off with the raspberries (side note: I’m not a huge raspberry fan, but they really are the perfect thing for this dessert. While other berries would be pleasant, the raspberries are essential) and the grated chocolate
After reading all about pavlovas, I was a little nervous about this dessert, but this recipe made it easy. While the original was a little vague in the directions and obviously was meant for more savvy bakers (hopefully, I’ve managed to simplify it a bit), the final project was fantastic. The outside is sugary and crunchy, while the inside is sticky and, dare I say it, almost a little gooey. While the base of the cake is sweet (unsurprising since it’s essentially just egg whites and sugar), the plain whipped cream topping and raspberries make it refreshing and very summer-y. One of the best things about it is how fun it is to eat; it’s definitely a different gastronomic experience than other desserts. The crisp top and the gooey bottom mixed with the creamy topping make for a very enjoyable texture experience, while you get the play of flavors from the sweet cocoa of the base and the freshly-tart burst from the raspberries (I imagine this is even more incredible when the raspberries are actually in season). My favorite part is how light this dessert is; I had a sizable slice and I didn’t feel the slightest bit full from it. There is serious danger of eating the entire cake.
Keep your egg whites pure. Make sure absolutely no oil touches them and no egg yolk gets in. Make sure your bowl, beaters, wooden spoon, and whatever other implements touch them are clean, clean, clean. And keep your fingers out of the bowl!
Egg whites whip up better when they’re at room temperature, so leave your eggs out for 30 minutes or so.
After your pavlova is baked, turn the oven off, but leave the pavlova in the oven. Just crack the door a bit and let it cool off in there. This should prevent it from collapsing.
When transferring your pavlova to a serving platter, be very gentle, they are extremely fragile (especially the bigger they are).