Up to quite recently you wouldn’t catch me preparing Pavlova in a million years. I remember kiwis and Aussie mates of mine arguing about which country had come up with palvlovas but could not understand what the fuss was all about. I was flicking through a Nigella’s cookery book in search of a nice desert to make for a good friend and thought that the look of this Chocolate Raspberry Pavlova was just stunning. From where I was standing all those gorgeous contrasting colours made even me want to take a bite. It was not like the ordinary Pavlovas I had seen before, with their pale look. This one had the dark of the chocolaty base, the white of the cream and the red of the berries. Winner combination of colours. I have to admit to have even taken great pleasure out of eating it – it is crunchy on the outside but slightly soft in the inside and very chocolaty. To top it all up you have the softness and slight tanginess of the raspberries which break a bit with the sweetness of the dessert. I was really please with the outcome.
For the chocolate meringue base:
6 egg whites
300g caster sugar
3 tablespoons cocoa powder, sieved
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar or red wine vinegar
50g dark chocolate finely chopped
For the topping:
500ml double cream
2-3 tablespoons coarsely grated dark chocolate
Pre-heat the oven to 180oC/gas mark 4 and line the baking tray with baking parchment.
Beat the egg whites until satiny peaks form, and then beat in the sugar a spoonful at a time until the meringue is stiff and shiny. Sprinkle over the cocoa and vinegar, and the chopped chocolate. Then gently fold everything until the cocoa is thoroughly mixed in. Mound on to a baking sheet in a fat circle, approximately 23cm in diameter, smoothing the sides and top a bit. Place in the oven, then immediately turn the temperature down to 150oC/gas mark 2 and cook for about one to one and a quarter hours. When it is ready it should look crisp around the edges, slightly cracked in parts, and dry on top, but when you prod the centre you should feel the promise of squidginess beneath your fingers. Turn off the oven and open the door slightly, and let the chocolate meringue disc cool completely.
When you are ready to serve, invert on to a big, flat-bottomed plate. Whisk the cream till thick but still soft and pile it on top of the meringue, then scatter over the raspberries. Coarsely grate the chocolate - I used a vegetable peeler to get some thin strands.