This pavlova has snuck onto the scene as a dessert for the festive season in our family – not as the main event (we’re all pretty wedded to Christmas pudding), but as a dessert for those barbecues and picnics in the lead up to Christmas or for Boxing Day.
Two years ago I made two big chocolate pavlovas for our Boxing Day picnic and the next year my father-in-law asked if I was making it again? Not one to repeat myself too often, and also thinking there are so many other great cakes and desserts to make at the summer end of the year, I made my Apricot, almond and spice cake instead. With its spices and slight hint of marzipan from the apricot kernels, I love this cake, especially with lashings of double cream, but I have to say it did fall a bit flat that day, in comparison … Lesson to self – apricot/marzipan: acquired taste; dark chocolate pavlova smothered in cherries: huge crowd pleaser!
The genius recipe comes from Maggie’s Kitchen by Maggie Beer, although I’ve pared back the sugar so it’s not super sweet, and also I find that balsamic vinegar works just as well as the vincotto that she prefers. She puts raspberries or grilled figs on top, but cherries have become my thing. Almost like a black forest pavlova …
Chocolate pavlova with cherries
6 egg whites
1 cup caster sugar
¼ cup good-quality cocoa
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar or vincotto
40 g dark chocolate (70 per cent cocoa solids), finely grated
300 ml cream, whipped
500 g cherries, halved and pitted
Preheat the oven to 180°C. Beat the egg whites to soft peaks. Gradually add the sugar with the beaters still running until the egg whites are firm and glossy. Then, sift the cocoa on top and add the vinegar or vincotto and the grated chocolate and beat on the lowest speed until incorporated.
Line a tray with baking paper. Scoop the pavlova mixture into the middle of the paper and spread it into a circle about 20 cm in diameter (the pavlova will expand in the oven). Put it into the oven and immediately reduce the temperature to 150°C. Bake the pavlova for 1 hour, then leave to cool completely in the oven (i.e. overnight) with the door slightly ajar (put a wooden spoon in the door opening if you need to).
When serving, peel the baking paper off the base of the pavlova and place it on a plate. Spread with the whipped cream. Scatter with the cherries.