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Valentine's Day Dessert: Chocolate Pavlova with Strawberries

La Petite Maison Verte: Valentine's Day Dessert: Chocolate Pavlova with Strawberries

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Valentine's Day Dessert: Chocolate Pavlova with Strawberries

This morning I shared this sad photo...

with a warning to wait until this dessert has fully cooled before trying to remove it from the silpat or parchment.  It's OK though, I had 4 more that turned out beautifully. 


With that full disclosure, I give you this recipe for Chocolate Pavlova with Whipped Cream and Strawberries.  A pavlova is basically a meringue dessert topped with whipped cream and fresh fruit or some kind of fruit compote.

I have read that in order to be a true pavlova (rather than a meringue) cornstarch and vinegar must be used in order to get the crisp exterior and soft, marshmallow-like interior.  Well, all I know is this recipe produced both without the cornstarch or the vinegar.  Harumph.  

I absolutely adored this dessert.  It was rich without being filling, decadent yet not heavy.  The chocolate took center stage and the lightly sweet whipped cream and strawberries had supporting roles.  If a fudgy brownie and a marshmallow had a baby, this would be it.  I went all cheesy and shaped the meringues into hearts for Valentine's Day but the original recipe called for making rounds which would look just as pretty I think.

Chocolate Pavlovas with Sweet Whipped Cream and Strawberries
makes 5 or 6 meringues
adapted from Francois Payard, as found here

For the chocolate meringues:

3 large egg whites
1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon (110 grams) white granulated sugar
1/4 cup (30 grams) confectioner's sugar
1/3 cup (30 grams) dark chocolate cocoa powder (or you could use regular)

Place rack in the center of the oven and preheat oven to 200 degrees.  Line two baking sheets with silpats or parchment paper.

Whip egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer on medium speed until soft peaks form.  Increase speed to high and slowly add granulated sugar, about 1 tablespoon at a time until stiff peaks form.

Sift the confectioner's sugar and cocoa powder over the egg whites and gently fold in using a spatula until well blended.

Dollop the egg white mixture onto the parchment or silpat-lined baking sheets into whatever shapes you desire, and level out with the back of the spoon.  Alternatively, you could pipe rounds onto the baking sheet using a piping bag filled with the meringue.

Bake about 2 hours until the meringues become dry and crisp.  Turn off the oven, leaving the meringues inside to cool.  Cool completely, then remove from oven.  Carefully peel the parchment paper or silpats off the meringues, you may need to use an offset spatula or knife to loosen the meringues.  They will be very delicate and break easily, so be gentle!  Serve with whipped cream and berries (see below) or store un-topped meringues in an airtight container up to 3 days.

For assembly:

Chocolate meringues (recipe above)
Heavy cream, cold
sugar (optional)
vanilla (optional)
fresh fruit - strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, kiwi, etc.
good quality dark chocolate (optional)

Prepare whipped cream by whisking cold heavy cream until soft peaks form, gently whisk in a tiny bit of vanilla extract and sugar if desired to sweeten the cream.

Place a cooled chocolate meringue onto a serving plate and top with some whipped cream.  Top with the sliced strawberries (or other fruit) and grate dark chocolate over the top.  Serve immediately.


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