Most of us tend to think of Pavlova as a dessert destined for summer BBQs, potlucks and picnics, but it turns out that when you add a dose of chocolate, it instantly transforms into something dark and rich—making it ideal for the holiday season.
If you aren’t familiar, Pavlova is like a giant baked marshmallow cake, or meringue, with a crisp crust and soft, light filling. Traditionally topped with fresh fruits and, optionally, whipped cream, it might also be blanketed with lemon curd. In our version, we’ve added the cream, and topped the whole thing with pomegranate seeds, but you could just as easily use sugared cranberries, roasted apples, chopped kiwi or clementine pieces to fancy up the dish (and add a festive holiday twist) before serving. It’s seasonal and versatile and lets the season’s best fruits shine, something that can be a challenge in the winter.
Another reason I’m keen on serving Pavlova for a holiday dessert is because it can be made 24 hours in advance, an essential attribute when it comes to making meals this time of year. Once baked and cooled, tuck the cake into an airtight container for up to 24 hours, and remove it just before piling the centre high with whipped cream and fresh fruit.
Are you a fan of Pavlova? Have you tried a chocolate variation before? How do you like to top yours?
Chocolate Pavlova with Whipped Cream and Christmas Fruits
Makes one 9″ cake
Adapted from Wintersweet
For the Pavlova:
- 4 egg whites, room temperature
- 1 cup cane or granulated sugar
- 2 Tbsp cocoa powder
- 1 tsp cornstarch
- 1 tsp balsamic vinegar
For the topping:
- 2 cups cold whipping cream
- 1 Tbsp powdered sugar
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- Pomegranate arils, or your favourite seasonal fruits
Prep and Cook:
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Trace an 8-inch circle onto a sheet of parchment paper, flip it over and set it on a baking sheet, making sure you can see the circle through the paper.
- In a clean mixing bowl, beat the egg whites on medium-high speed for 3-4 minutes, or until stiff peaks form. With the mixer running, add the sugar one tablespoon at a time, beating well. Once all of the sugar is added, beat the meringue for 4-6 minutes, or until it’s stiff and shiny.
- Sift the cocoa powder over top and add the cornstarch and vinegar. Gently fold everything together with a rubber spatula, until fully combined.
- Mound the meringue into the centre of the parchment paper and spread it into a circle, using the markings as your guide.
- Place in the oven and immediately drop the temperature to 300°F. Bake for 1 hour 15 minutes, then turn off the oven and allow to cool completely inside the oven with the door propped open.
- To serve: Whip the cream, powdered sugar, and vanilla until soft peaks form. Spread over the centre of the Pavlova (you’ll notice a natural indent in the middle of the cake) and garnish with fresh fruit just before serving.
Good to Know:
- Meringue can be made up to 24 hours in advance. Store in an airtight container to keep fresh.
- Consider deepening the chocolate flavour by adding 1 teaspoon of espresso powder with the cornstarch.