Chocolate Pavlova with Whipped Cream and Raspberries

DessertHolidayGluten-FreeChocolateMeringue

This chocolate pavlova topped with whipped cream and raspberries is a show-stopper, for sure. It also happens to be easy to make! If you can make meringue, you can make this.

Photography Credit: Sally Vargas

Do you love show-stopping desserts? What about show-stopping desserts that are easy to make? Oh, I thought so.

Pavlova, if you are not familiar with it, is a meringue cake named after the Russian ballerina Anna Pavlove. It’s especially popular in Australia and New Zealand as well as in the U.K. It’s a deliciously sweet and feathery light confection, often filled with whipped cream and fresh berries – and in our case, chocolate!

Chocolate Pavlova

Here is how it works: First, make a meringue – just whip egg whites with sugar, it’s not rocket science! Fold in some cocoa powder. Go gently to avoid deflating the meringue.

Next, spread the meringue in a big circle on a parchment-lined sheet, about the size of a pie, and sprinkle with sliced almonds. Bake for a lonnngggg time at a low temperature.

Finally, top with melted chocolate (another 3 minutes of your precious time) and let it harden into a shell. Fill with whipped cream, top with berries, and that’s it.

Chocolate Pavlova

Okay, so maybe it’s not cake-mix easy, but it sure fits the bill for a special occasion. I am definitely going to make one of these for New Year’s Eve and maybe even Christmas, since we’ll have a crowd of people to feed.

This pavlova has so many flavors and textures to consider, it will make your head spin — in a good way! First, there are the crispy edges of meringue and the soft, slightly marshmallow-y interior. Then there are the crunchy almonds and the dark chocolate shell.

Add to that, the clouds of creamy whipped cream and tart raspberries, and you have a dessert worthy of any celebration!

Chocolate Pavlova

You can make the meringue layer a day or two ahead. Gently wrap it in foil to keep from crushing it and leave it at room temperature until you are ready to fill it.

After assembling, it will keep in the fridge, uncovered, for up to three hours. If you’re making it for a party, you make it just before guests arrive, stash it in the fridge, and pull it out to oohs and ahhs when the time for dessert rolls around.

Serious oohs and ahhhs. Happily, it tastes as good as it looks.

Chocolate Pavlova with Whipped Cream and Raspberries Recipe

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  • Prep time: 30 minutes
  • Cook time: 1 hour, 30 minutes
  • Yield: 8 to 10 servings

If a little drop of egg yolk finds its way into the bowl of whites, it will make it difficult for the egg whites to whip up properly. The easiest solution is to scoop it out with the edge of an eggshell. Be sure to use a very clean mixer bowl.

Ingredients

For the meringue:

  • 1 1/2 cups (300 grams) sugar
  • 4 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 6 egg whites, at room temperature
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1/4 cup (21 grams) Dutch processed cocoa powder
  • 4 tablespoons sliced almonds

For the filling:

  • 1/2 cup (2 ounces, 57 g) finely chopped bittersweet chocolate
  • 1 1/2 cups (355 ml) heavy whipping cream
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 (6-ounce) packages of raspberries, about 5 to 6 cups (500 g)
  • Powdered sugar (for sprinkling)

Special equipment:

Method

1 Preheat the oven to 275ºF (135°C). Line a baking sheet with parchment. With a sharpie or pencil and using a 9-inch pie or cake pan as a guide, trace a 9-inch (23 cm) circle on the parchment paper and then flip the paper, so the ink-side is facing down (and doesn't touch your food), but you can still see the outline through the paper.

2 Mix the sugar and cornstarch: In a small bowl, whisk the sugar and cornstarch until combined.

3 Beat the egg whites: In the squeaky-clean bowl of an electric mixer on medium speed, slowly beat the egg whites until foamy. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt and the cream of tartar.

Continue beating just until soft peaks begin to form. With the mixer on medium speed, add the sugar 1 tablespoon at a time. When all the sugar has been added, increase the mixer speed to high and beat for 5 minutes, or until the meringue is shiny and forms stiff peaks.

Dip your index finger into the meringue and rub it between your finger and thumb. If it feels gritty, continue to beat for another 30 to 60 seconds, or until it feels perfectly smooth between your fingers and all the sugar has been dissolved.

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4 Mix in the vanilla and cocoa powder: With the mixer on low speed, mix in the vanilla.

Remove the bowl from the stand and sift the cocoa powder over the meringue. With a spatula, gently fold in the cocoa powder until the mixture looks steaked with ribbons of cocoa powder. Avoid deflating the meringue.

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5 Bake the meringue: Scrape the meringue into the center of the circle on the baking sheet. With the back of a large spoon, spread it into a 9-inch circle. Mound the edges slightly higher, so there's a bowl-like indentation in the middle. Sprinkle with the almonds.

Bake at 275°F (135°C) for 30 minutes. Turn the oven down to 250ºF (120°C) and bake for another 45 to 55 minutes, or until the edges and sides look crisp and the top looks dry. It should still feel slightly soft in the center when you press it gently with your finger.

Remove from the oven and let cool completely. Transfer to a serving platter. Store at room temperature for up to 2 days, loosely wrapped in foil.

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6 Top with chocolate: Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Sprinkle the chocolate over the indentation in the middle of the meringue. Place in the oven for 2 to 3 minutes, or until the chocolate melts.

With the back of a spoon or a small offset spatula, spread the chocolate across the middle of the pavlova in an even layer. Place in the freezer for 10 minutes to allow the chocolate to harden. (Make the whipped cream while you wait.)

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7 Make the whipped cream: In a mixer bowl on medium speed, beat the cream, sugar and vanilla together until soft peaks form.

8 Fill and finish the pavlova: Spread the whipped cream over the top of the meringue to cover the chocolate. Arrange the raspberries on top. Sprinkle with powdered sugar. Serve immediately, or refrigerate, uncovered, for up to 3 hours.

The pavlova is best eaten on the day you serve it, but leftovers will keep for a few days, refrigerated.

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Sally Vargas

Sally Pasley Vargas is a freelance writer and the author of three cookbooks (Food for Friends, The Tao of Cooking, Ten Speed Press, and The Cranberry Cookbook). She currently writes the column The Confident Cook for The Boston Globe along with seasonal recipes for the Wednesday Food Section.

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5 Comments / Reviews

No ImageChocolate Pavlova with Whipped Cream and Raspberries

Did you make it? Rate it!

  1. Patricia

    My mother used to make this (and I’m 71) – one of my childhood favorites. Her recipe also included vinegar in the meringue. The bittersweet layer is essential. She’d top that with a chocolate whipped cream layer (i sometimes dissolve a bit of instant coffee in the chocolate/cream mix), then a thinner topping of plain whipped cream and some chocolate curls. This was before the fashion of adding raspberries to chocolate desserts (a ubiquitous trend of which I’m not fond).

  2. Marcia Guth

    This was a big hit at the dinner party last night. I did leave out the bittersweet layer. And I would make a bit more whippped cream next time.

  3. Denise

    Sounds like a great take on the pavlova and I’m dying to try it. However it is not a TRUE pavlova unless the inside is marshmallowy, and for that you need to add a dessertspoon of vinegar. (I’m Australian, can you guess?)

  4. monica Smith

    You cannot make meringue when it is wet and rainy, specifically when there is thunder and lightening. I am sure there is a scientific reason. but……

  5. Marta Rivera

    I made this for my family and neighbor’s to celebrate the start of winter break. Not of them could pronounce “pavlova”, but they sure loved it!

Chocolate PavlovaChocolate Pavlova with Whipped Cream and Raspberries