Black Forest Pavlova. Enjoy this luscious chocolate and cherry topped Pavlova as a show-stopping end to a meal. To make this dessert even more special, use Kirsch soaked cherries, or if in season, juicy fresh ones. You can also replace the plain vanilla and chocolate ice-creams with cherry vanilla swirl and decadent chocolate fudge ice-creams.
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For the meringue:
- 5 egg whites, room temperature
- 275g caster sugar
- 2½ tsp cornflour, plus extra for dusting
- 1½ tsp white vinegar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract or paste
For the chocolate sauce:
- 50g good quality dark chocolate, roughly chopped
- 125ml double cream
- 1 tbsp Kirsch liqueur, optional
For the topping:
- 100g dark chocolate
- 4-5 scoops chocolate ice-cream
- 4-5 scoops vanilla ice-cream
- 1 tin black cherries in syrup, drained
- For the meringue, preheat oven to 150°C/130°C Fan/gas 2. Trace a 20cm (8inch) circle onto the back of a piece of parchment paper, then flip it over and use to line a baking sheet.
- Tip: Before starting with the meringue, make sure your bowl (should be glass or metal) is scrupulously clean. Any small amount of fat or grease left in the mixing bowl can cause the egg whites not to whisk up properly, or at all, so give it a good wash in warm soapy water before-hand. Or, you can even rub the inside of the bowl with paper towel dipped in lemon juice. This goes for your whisk attachment as well.
- To make the meringue, pour the egg whites in a large bowl and start whisking on slow speed, when they're looking frothy, gradually speed up until soft peaks have formed that just hold their shape, about 10 minutes.
- Increasing to high speed (medium high if using a powerful mixer), slowly add sugar, a tablespoon at a time, until peaks are firm and glossy. Tip: It's important to add the sugar slowly so that it can dissolve completely, so this process can take up to 15 minutes.
- To make sure the sugar has been whisked in completely, rub a bit of the beaten egg whites between your thumb and finger, if you can feel any grains of sugar, carry on whisking the egg whites until sugar has been dissolved. Add the cornflour, vinegar and vanilla, then whisk until combined. The meringue should be very glossy and thick and its peaks should hold their shape firmly.
- Use a small amount of meringue to stick the four corners of the parchment paper to the baking sheet. Dust in and around the traced circle with a bit of cornflour.
- Spoon meringue onto prepared parchment paper and use a spatula or large spoon to spread meringue within the traced circle as a guide, shape it into a tall mount with a flattish top.
- Try keep the sides quite vertical, this ensures when it expands it still keeps its height rather than flattening while spreading out. Use the back of the spoon to create a slight crater on top.
- Bake in pre-heated oven for 10 minutes, then reduce heat to 110°C/90°C Fan/gas ¼ and bake for further 1 hour - 1 hour 15 minutes, then turn the oven off and leave the meringue to cool completely, keeping the oven door closed. This is best done overnight, so bake the Pavlova the night before, leaving it in the oven until morning. Alternatively, start your Pavlova first thing in the morning so it's ready for late afternoon/evening. Do not open the oven while it is baking and for the first few hours of cooling, the cold air that rushes in will result in the meringue collapsing.
- To make the chocolate sauce, fill a medium sized saucepan a quarter of the way with water and bring to a simmer. Place a heatproof bowl over the simmering water, making sure the bowl doesn't touch the water. Pour out some water if needed.
- Put the chocolate and cream in the bowl and leave to melt, stirring occasionally. Once chocolate has melted and mixture is completely smooth, stir in the liqueur if using. Remove from heat and leave to cool at room temperature, it will thicken as it cools. Gently re-heat if needed before serving.
- When ready to serve, carefully remove Pavlova from parchment, if needed, run a long sharp knife under the meringue. Place meringue on a serving dish. Use a sharp knife or vegetable peeler to shave the chocolate. Top the meringue with scoops of ice-cream, cherries and chocolate sauce. Finish off with chocolate shavings and serve immediately.
- Pavlova meringue can be made up to 2 days ahead and stored in an airtight container at room temperature. Pavlova should be assembled just before serving.