One condition of marrying an Aussie and moving to Australia is you must know how to make a Pavlova in your sleep with your hands tied behind you back whilst standing on your head... When I was granted my permanent residency three years ago, I thought no better an occasion than any to make a big, fat, cream slathered 'Pav' to celebrate..!
This is the pavlova I made and one I have since often whipped up in an effort to impress at family/friend get-togethers esp. over the Christmas/Summer period when raspberries here don't cost the equivalent of a small country's economy as they do for the remainder of the year..(!) It's a double chocolate raspberry pavlova which I originally found in a Nigella Lawson cookbook and let's face it, who better a celebrity chef than Nigella to muster up a recipe for something this fattening...
The ingredients are:
6 x Egg Whites
300g Caster sugar
3 x tablespoons Belgian cocoa powder
1 x tablespoon good balsamic vinegar
50g good quality chocolate (70% cocoa solids), chopped into small pieces
3 punnets of fresh raspberries
500ml whipping cream, whipped and sweetened with a tablespoon of caster sugar
Preheat oven to 180˚C
1. Place egg whites in the bowl of a mixer (I use a Kitchen Aid, find it excellent for meringues) and whisk until soft peaks form.
2. Using a tablespoon at a time, add sugar into egg white mixture and continue beating until the egg whites become stiff and glossy. Be careful not to over-beat as it can start to separate. The mixture is ready once it forms stiff, glossy peaks and you can hold the bowl upside down without any of it falling out. (I don't normally test the latter as I'm familiar with meringue consistence but if you've never made one before, it's worth giving it a try, once it stays put, you know you're good to go.
3. Sift in the cocoa powder, add the vinegar and chopped up chocolate, using a large spoon slowly and carefully fold these into the egg white and sugar mixture until fully combined. the mixture will resemble a very light brown shade.
4. Line 2 large, flat oven trays with baking parchment - I find it a good tip to dab a little bit of the pavlova mixture underneath each corner of the paper as it helps it stick to the tray and avoids the paper slipping all over the place whilst you are loading on the mixture = very annoying..
5. Place a 9" or 10" dinnerplate on the middle of each tray and draw firmly around the edge with a pencil or pen to form a circle - this will act as a guide and ensure both pavlovas are the same size. Flip the paper over so the ink/pencil lead is touching the tray side as opposed to the pavlova side, you'll still be able to see the line through the paper.
6. Load up each circle with the mixture, smoothing it out to the edge of the line you have just drawn, try to divide the mix equally so both have same volume of mix. I normally smooth out the mixture, but a Pavlova is not supposed to look perfect so feel free to form a few points and peaks if you want, when cooked they'll crisp up and add a bit more interest visually.
7. Place in oven and immediately reduce heat to 140˚C. Cook for 1hr to 1hr15mins. Do not open the oven door whilst the pavlova is cooking.
8. You'll know when the pavlova is cooked when it looks crisp at the edges which will have started to crack slightly. The top will be dry but if you press on the underside it'll give a little as the centre should be still a little squishy/soft. Place the pavlova back in the oven and leave the door slightly ajar, leave the pavolva to cool completely inside.
9. When it is cool, I place one disc on a serving platter or cake stand and spoon a big wallop of cream on top, scatter a good handful of fresh raspberries onto the cream and then place the second meringue disc on top. Again pile on a good amount of cream and the remainder of the raspberries. Sprinkle with finely chopped chocolate and serve.