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Chocolate Pavlova with Whipped Cream and Berries

Makes 10-12 servings
  • Active time: 20 min
    Total time: 2 hr
In the world of meringues, pavlovas give you the best of both types: a shatteringly crisp outer portion that gives way to a marshmallow-like center. Adding cocoa to the meringue makes that ooey-gooey part particularly irresistible to chocolate lovers. Fill the pavlova with whipped cream and fresh berries and you’ve got an easy dessert that will wow your friends and family. It’s up to you whether you want to share with them just how easy it is—only 20 minutes of real action time.
Published in Gourmet Live 12.22.10

INGREDIENTS:

For Meringue:

  • 6 large egg whites
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened natural cocoa powder (not Dutch-process)
  • 1 teaspoon distilled white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

For Filling:

  • 1 1/2 cups chilled heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 cup chilled sour cream
  • 1 1/2 cups mixed berries (we used raspberries and blackberries)

EQUIPMENT:

  • a stand mixer fitted with wire whisk attachment

INSTRUCTIONS:

Make Meringue:

  • Preheat oven to 425°F with rack in middle. Trace an approximately 8-inch circle on a sheet of parchment paper. Turn parchment over and put on a baking sheet.
  • Beat whites (reserve yolks for another use) with salt and cream of tartar in mixer at medium speed until they hold stiff peaks.
  • Increase speed to medium-high and beat in sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time. After all sugar has been added, beat until sugar is dissolved, about 2 minutes more.
  • Stop mixer and sift cornstarch and cocoa over meringue, then beat until combined (mixture will deflate slightly.)
  • Add vinegar and vanilla and beat at high speed until meringue is glossy and holds stiff peaks, about 2 minutes.
  • Reduce oven temperature to 250°F. Gently spread meringue inside circle on parchment, making edge of meringue slightly higher than center (the “crater” is for cream and fruit).
  • Bake until meringue is paler and has a crust, about 1 1/2 hours (inside will still be marshmallow-like). Cool completely on baking sheet (pavlova will deflate slightly and crack as it cools).
  • Carefully loosen meringue from parchment with a metal spatula, then carefully transfer to a flat serving plate.

Just Before Serving, Make Filling:

  • Beat heavy cream and sugar with an electric mixer at medium speed until soft peaks form, then fold in sour cream.
  • Spoon into meringue shell and top with berries.

COOKS' NOTES:

  • Pavlova can be made 1 day ahead and kept, well wrapped in plastic, at room temperature.
  • Don’t be tempted to substitute Dutch-process cocoa if that’s all you have in your cupboard; it turns the meringue liquid.
  • If you have a tart pan with a removable bottom, use the bottom to transfer the meringue to a serving plate.
  • Separating the whites from the yolks of eggs is most easily done when the eggs are cold; the yolks tend to break more easily when they are room temperature.
  • When separating several eggs, such as the 6 called for here, separate each one into a small cup first before adding the white to a larger bowl—this way, that if the yolk breaks, it only affects one egg, not the whole batch of whites you are assembling.
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