Chocolate Pavlova with Strawberries and Cream

My friend Sharon introduced me to Nigella Lawson, her television shows, and her cookbooks. One of the first recipes she asked me to try out was Nigella's Chocolate Pavlova. I had never heard of this dessert but have since discovered that it's perfect for summer - light, airy, celebrating fresh fruit. What's not to love?


I've found Nigella's recipes to be easy and approachable and include a number of them in my collection of go-to-recipes. Thanks to this recipe, people think I'm a master of meringue. Nothing could be further from the truth but knowing the basic method has taken me a long way.

All of Nigella's pavlova recipes call for superfine sugar but I've always used granulated sugar. I assume that using granulated sugar would make the meringue grainy but this hasn't been an issue for me.

Whip the egg whites to soft, satiny peaks before
whipping in the sugar.

Fold in the cocoa, chopped chocolate, and balsamic vinegar.

Instead of making one large pavlova I decided to make six individually sized meringues. Since I free-formed them, they turned out much larger than I planned. I probably should have made eight or ten instead.



But despite their size, they turned out perfectly. Because of the sweetness of the pavlova, the whipped cream does not need any additional sugar. If the fruit is particularly tart you could macerate it with a little sugar but it's not necessary. Unlike the original recipe I use strawberries instead of raspberries.



I also experimented with some peaches and mint but ultimately preferred the strawberries.


Chocolate Pavlova with Strawberries and Cream

Modified slightly from Nigella Lawson

For the chocolate meringue base:
6 large egg whites
1½ cups granulated sugar
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
1 teaspoon balsamic or red wine vinegar
2 ounces dark chocolate, finely chopped

For the topping:
2 cups heavy cream
4 cups sliced strawberries
3 tablespoons coarsely grated bittersweet chocolate

Preheat the oven to 350º F and line a baking tray with parchment paper.

Beat the egg whites until satiny peaks form, and then beat in the sugar a spoonful at a time until the meringue is stiff and shiny. Sprinkle over the cocoa and vinegar, and the chopped chocolate. Then gently fold everything until the cocoa is thoroughly mixed in.

Mound the meringue mixture onto a baking sheet in a circle approximately 9 inches in diameter, smoothing the sides and top. Place in the oven, then immediately turn the temperature down to 300º F and cook for about one to one and a quarter hours.

When it's ready it should look crisp around the edges and on the sides and be dry on top, but when you prod the center you should feel the promise of squidginess beneath your fingers. Turn off the oven and open the door slightly, and let the chocolate meringue disc cool completely.

When you're ready to serve, invert on to a flat-bottomed plate. Whisk the cream till thick but still soft and pile it on top of the meringue. Scatter the strawberries over the cream. Coarsely grate the chocolate over the top of the strawberries.

Enjoy!

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