Brown Swan: Chocolate Raspberry Pavlova

Oh my.

Just look at it.

A thing of beauty, isn't it? Granted, it probably would have been a little prettier if the meringue was still snowy white like a traditional pavlova, but I like the chocolate in it. It gives the pavlova some character. A dark little twist.

The jury's still out on whether the "pav" was originally created in New Zealand or Australia. Wherever its origin, the dessert was created in the 1920s to honor the Russian ballerina, Anna Pavlova, after one of her tours. It was said that the she "does not dance; she soars as though on wings," thus inspiring this delicate, airy creation.

This meringue-based dessert has a light, crisp crust and a meltingly marshmallow-y inside. The balsamic vinegar helps to keep the center soft; you cannot taste it once it is baked. The chocolate pieces remain gooey and molten even after the base cools. The meringue is then crowned with softly whipped cream and scattered with fruit.

Pavlovas are traditionally topped with passion fruit, probably because they are indigenous to Australia and New Zealand. In this version, raspberries are used since their pleasant tartness balances nicely with the sugary meringue. These bright red gems are also a classic pairing with chocolate.

Chocolate Pavlova


For the Meringue Base:

  • 6 large egg whites
  • 2 cups superfine sugar
  • 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
  • 1 teaspoon balsamic or red wine vinegar
  • 2 ounces dark chocolate, finely chopped

For the Toppings:

  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 4 cups raspberries
  • 1 to 2 ounces dark chocolate


Prepare the pan: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment. Draw a 9-inch-diameter circle on the paper with a pencil, tracing a round cake tin that size.
Flip the paper over so your meringue doesn't touch the pencil marks - you'll still be able to see the circle.
Make the meringue: 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.
Add the chocolate: Sprinkle the cocoa, vinegar and then the chopped chocolate over the egg whites. Gently fold everything with a rubber spatula until the cocoa is thoroughly mixed in.
Shape the meringue: Secure the parchment to the baking sheet with a dab of meringue under each corner. Mound the meringue onto the parchment within the circle, smoothing the sides and the top with a spatula.
Bake the meringue: Place in the oven, then immediately turn the temperature down to 300 degrees F and cook for one to one and a quarter hours. 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.
Let it cool: Turn off the oven and open the door slightly; let the chocolate meringue disk cool completely in the oven. When you'reready to serve, invert onto a big flatbottomed plate and peel off the parchment.
Decorate the Pavlova: Whisk the cream till thick but still soft and pile it on top of the meringue, then scatter the raspberries on top. Coarsely grate the chocolate haphazardly over the top so that you get curls of chocolate rather than rubble, as you don't want the raspberries' luscious color and form to be obscured. You want the Pavlova to look like a frosted cake.
Serves 8-10

Recipe source: Nigella Lawson Forever Summer
Image property of beetsandbites

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