Dost thou love life,
then do not sqander time,
for that is the stuff life is made of.
Chocolate Pavlova is a guaranteed good use of time in the kitchen. Benjamin Franklin, who is quoted here, might approve–if only on the grounds of time well spent. But being also a confirmed Francophile, he might also have been inclined to approve a French twist on an Australian/New Zealand classic, that was created (most probably) when Anna Pavlova toured the two countries.
Traditionally, Pavlova is a soft meringue filled with fruit and whipped cream. This French one fills the meringue with Chocolate Mousse. What distinguishes a Pavlova from a basic Meringue is the addition of cornstarch, which crisps the outer shell, leaving the inside soft. Meringues, by contrast, are crisp throughout.
Chocolate Pavlova ~ Pavlova au Chocolat (for 6 people or easily doubled for 12 people)
I. Ingredients: American measures are given, and, with the exception of spoon measures, Metric ones are too, for those who prefer measuring by weight.
A. For the Pavlovas:
4 Egg Whites or 1/2 cup of Egg Whites: if you freeze unused whites for later use, the equivalent weight of 1 egg white is 38 grams.
1 teaspoon of Lemon Juice
1 cup plus 1/8 cup of Sugar (240 grams)
1 teaspoon of Cornstarch
1 teaspoon of Vanilla
B. For the Chocolate Mousse:
5 and 1/2 ounces of Dark Chocolate (150 grams)
350 ml of Heavy Cream
1/8 cup plus 2 Tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons of Powdered Sugar (25 grams)
a pinch of salt
C. Finishing the Pavlovas (optional)
about 1/2 cup of Thin-sliced Almonds
Dark Cherries (one for each plate)
a Baking Sheet lined with Parchment Paper
a Mixer, standing or hand
an Ice Cream or Large Cookie Scoop is useful for placing the uncooked Pavlovas on the Baking Sheet
a small Ladle works well for forming the hollows in the center of each uncooked Pavlova
a cooling rack
a Small Sieve for the optional finishing of the Pavlovas with Cocoa Powder and Powdered Sugar
III. Making the Pavlovas
A Suggestion: Making the Pavlovas on the day they are going to be used is best because of their soft, moist consistency. Keeping them in a cool place after they are baked is also preferable.
1. Preheat the oven to 250 F. (120 C.). Streak the Baking Sheet with butter so that the Parchment Paper doesn’t move around and line the Baking Sheet with the Parchment Paper.
2. Mix the Sugar and Cornstarch together. Beat the egg whites and lemon juice until they begin to froth and gradually add the sugar and cornstarch. When the egg whites become stiff, beat a little more and add the vanilla. When they are stiff enough, the egg whites will not move in an upturned bowl:
3. With a large ice cream scoop or spoon, place 6 balls of Pavlova mixture (about 1/2 cup for each) on the baking sheet…
…then with the rounded side of a small ladle or spoon, press down…
…and around to form a hollow in the center of each of them…
This will transform the balls into discs of about 4-inches in diameter…
If they aren’t all quite that size, don’t worry about it:
4. Place the Pavlovas in the preheated oven. Leave the oven door half open and bake the Pavlovas for 1 hour and 30 minutes. At the end of that time, they will have a thin, crisp outer layer. The insides will be soft. For Pavlovas, this is how it should be. Take them out and place them on a cooling rack:
IV. Making the Chocolate Mousse
1. Break the chocolate into pieces and put them in the top part of the double boiler or homemade ‘Bain-Marie’ and melt it. Set it aside off the heat– still sitting over the hot water. The chocolate will cool but not harden. If for some reason the chocolate is left until it begins to solidify, warm it a little just before folding it into the whipped cream.
2. Whip the heavy cream and as it forms soft mounds, gradually add the powdered sugar. The cream is done when it does not slide up the side of a tilted bowl:
3. Fold in the chocolate and a pinch of salt:
4. Cover and refrigerate the mousse until you put together the Chocolate Pavlovas–that is, just before serving them.
V. Putting Together the Chocolate Pavlovas
Put the Chocolate Pavlovas together right before serving them so that the soft meringues don’t become soggy.
1. Brown the almonds in a dry pan on top of the stove or in a 400 F. oven for a few minutes. The temperature for oven-browning is only a suggested one. Nuts brown just as well at some other temperature or in an oven that is preheating for another purpose. The important thing is to check them every few minutes to make sure they don’t burn:
2. Place a Pavlova Meringue on each dessert plate and place a scoop of chocolate mousse in the middle of each Meringue. Sprinkle some almonds over the mousse and sieve cocoa powder and powdered sugar over each plate:
3. Place a cherry at the side of each dessert:
A Note: Chocolate Pavlova is one of the two desserts in the Occasional Menu: Dessert and Coffee.
© Elizabeth Laeuchli, the diplomatickitchen, 2011-2012