14 September 2010

Chocolate Strawberry Pavlova

If you're looking for an impressive dessert that's a little something different, look no further. I have made one of Nigella's dessert recipes before, but wasn't 100% pleased with the results. This time, I could not have been happier. This Chocolate Strawberry Pavlova was rich and sweet, yet light and fruity. An amazing treat that works for any occasion.

I made this for my in-laws' tenth wedding anniversary. There were seven of us and we ended up with one giant piece left over - this would easily serve ten if you cut it properly.

Chocolate Strawberry Pavlova
adapted from Nigella Lawson

For the Meringue

6 large egg whites
2 c. superfine sugar  (**see note**)
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped

For the Topping

2 c. heavy whipping cream
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tbsp. superfine sugar
2 c. sliced strawberries 
1 oz. bittersweet chocolate

**Please note: I don't have superfine sugar in my pantry and I wasn't about to buy any. You don't need to either. Put regular old granulated sugar in your food processor or blender and whir for about 30 seconds (until it's super fine).

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment. Use a pencil to trace a 9-inch- cake tin on the paper. Flip the paper over so your meringue doesn't touch the pencil marks.

Beat the egg whites with a mixer until satiny peaks form, and then beat in the sugar a spoonful at a time until the meringue is stiff and shiny. 

Sift the cocoa into the bowl, then add the vinegar and chopped chocolate over the egg whites.

Gently fold everything with a rubber spatula until the cocoa is thoroughly mixed in.

Plop the meringue into the center of the parchment circle. Yummy!

Shape the meringue into a disc using a butterknife or offset spatula.

Lick the spatula clean. Mmmm hmmmm!

Place in the oven, and immediately turn the temperature down to 300 degrees and cook for 60-75 minutes.

When it's ready, it should look crisp and dry on top, but when you prod the center you should feel the promise of squidginess beneath your fingers.(This is word-for-word Nigella's direction - I love it!)

Open the oven door, turn off the oven, and let the meringue cool completely.

Move the meringue onto your serving plate.

Whip the cream and vanilla until soft peaks start to form. Add the sugar and whip to combine.

Spread the whipped cream on the meringue and top with the strawberries. My lovely sister-in-law Leah is allergic to strawberries, so I left a section of the pavlova free for her.

Use a vegetable peeler to shave curls of chocolate over the pavlova.

Happy Anniversary to two of my favorite people!

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