Recipe: Dark Chocolate Pavlova

Move over fruit cake! 
(No offense to anyone who loves making or eating fruit cake πŸ˜‚)
When the holidays call for beautiful. I think by now you've realized my love for dark chocolate and berries. Yes, they are an institution in my culinary selection. Their marriage is unparalleled and time (and agreeing tastebuds around the world) has definitely solidified their union. 

When I was younger, I've watched Nigella (Lawson) whip up these magical-looking desserts accompanied with the awe of her British accent. I was just so drawn to her cooking. Every time we'd go to a bookstore, I'd check out her books. And one in particular, "How to Be a Domestic Goddess", I'd cling to and just stare at the pages. I think Mom saw me staring one time... so naturally... she gave it to me as a Christmas present. I was in full-on panic mode because I just wanted to make everything in it. I've ALWAYS wanted to make a pavlova. Making meringue (or any dessert needing air incorporated to it) was always one of my downfalls. I could never get it to the stiff and shiny stage. Maybe I was just too impatient - and tired, holding my hand-held mixer. 

So when a Christmas elf delivered Esperanza to me (my new white and shining KitchenAid - THANK YOU, THANK YOU, CHRISTMAS FAIRY GODMOTHER!!!! You know who you are πŸ˜‰πŸ˜˜) , I obviously had to give this a go. And yes, it was the first thing Esperanza (literally) whipped up. 

Unfortunately, I left my cookbook in Manila. It was in my box I asked Mom to set aside for me (together with my old photo albums) for when I went back to claim them or sent over. Good thing the internet was able to source out this recipe. I used Nigella's recipe because I really wanted to make it like she did. And yes, I watched her videos again on YouTube. And as funny as this may sound, when I was making this - I was even speaking with a British accent. Hilarious! Try it! It had the same effect as when I'm singing while cooking. (I usually sing Disney songs too, btw 😁).

I'm just so happy I was able to finally make this. This may have been one of the top contenders for my "subconscious baking/cooking bucket list". πŸ’›

Dark Chocolate Pavlova
I was able to make a large 12-inch pavlova with this recipe. If you'd like, you can also make 6 individual portions instead. 

You'll need the following: a stand or hand mixer with the wire/whisk attachment, a spatula, an offset spatula, a grater or microplane, a baking sheet, and some parchment paper. 

6 large egg whites, room temperature
1 1/4 cup sugar
3 tbsp cocoa powder (preferably dutch processed, sieved)
1 tsp balsamic vinegar (or red wine vinegar)
50 grams dark chocolate (finely chopped, it’s much easier if you get a 100g chocolate bar and use half. If you don’t have a weighing scale, this should fit about 1/3 cup.)

For the Topping
2 cups whipping cream (I used the 35%)
2 tbsp sugar
2 cups fresh raspberries (you can also use strawberries if raspberries aren't available)
3 tbsp dark chocolate (coarsely grated)

1. Preheat the oven to 350ΒΊF and line a baking tray with baking parchment. Set aside.
2. Beat the egg whites until it almost reaches stiff peaks. Gradually add the sugar a spoonful at a time until the meringue is stiff and shiny. Add the cocoa, vinegar, and the chopped chocolate and gently fold everything until everything is incorporated. Do not over-fold, you don’t want to deflate the meringue.

3. Transfer the chocolate meringue to the baking sheet in a fat circle creating a mound, and using an offset spatula, flatten into a pie-sized circle about 10-12 inches and smoothen it out. To keep the parchment from moving, dot a meringue on the corners of the baking sheet so the parchment sticks.

4. Place in the oven, then immediately turn the temperature down to 300ΒΊF and bake for about 1 hour (maximum 1 hour and 15 minutes).

5. Let this cool on the baking sheet for 10-15 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack and let this completely cool for about 20 more minutes. This will deflate in the centre. So don't be shocked.

6. Before serving, transfer to a large platter/plate (make sure it’s flat, I just used a chopping board). Whisk the cream and once thick, add the sugar and continue whisking for 1-2 more minutes. Get a good helping of the whipped cream on the pavlova and dollop away. Top with raspberries and grate dark chocolate on top. 

7. Enjoy!

*Adding vinegar to the meringue mixture will stabilize it. It will also help in holding the meringue together, making air pockets. If you don't have balsamic (but use this if you can, it complements the dark chocolate very well), you can use sherry wine vinegar instead. 

**If you're not into dark chocolate, you can also make a white chocolate pavlova instead. It will look like a giant pillow but will taste like custard with a crunch texture. You can dress this up with caramelized apples instead and a drizzling of salted caramel. 

***By now I think you can tell I love using berries. In case raspberries are not available, you can use strawberries. Or, if frozen raspberries are available, make it into a compote (simmer in a pot with sugar and water, do not simmer down into a syrup because you want the chunks to be there).

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