Why, hello! Could anything be better than this? By the way, for a seriously gorgeous photo of this cake, visit What Katie Ate, where I discovered the recipe. Katie credits Nigella Lawson (who else?) for creating this amazing feat of deliciousness.
So, I should throw this out there, for those of you wondering if I had to make my own birthday cake (which wouldn't be a terrible thing, since I rather dig hanging out and making food)...the Mister made it. But I'm here to share the recipe, because you need this recipe in your repertoire. And because I was hovering the entire time he made it. "Ooo, did you preheat the oven? Here's the chocolate, I'd better have a little taste. Do you want me to do anything? Like lick the bowl? Just asking..." So you see, I know what went down.
I have made my fair share of pavlovas, which is one positively gorgeous dessert, and makes me all sorts of happy, reminiscing on life in New Zealand, where I was first introduced to them. But never have I seen a chocolate pavlova...let alone a double chocolate pavlova...I'll take some of What Katie Ate...thank you kindly.
We (by we, of course, I mean the Mister, with me buzzing around like an spastic hummingbird) followed the recipe fairly exactly, the only changes being made out of necessity. Necessity Number One: Baking the two layers one at a time, because my oven is wee. Hopefully you won't have to do that, because it does make the process rather longer. Necessity Number Two: Replacing the chocolate called for (70% cocoa solids) with 85%...because, well, because we can. You needn't be quite as greedily obsessive about your chocolate, of course.
Here it is, the Pavlova to beat all Pavlovas:
Double Chocolate Raspberry Pavlova - adapted from the recipe on What Katie Ate
6 egg whites, at room temperature
1 1/3 cup (300 g) caster sugar *
3 Tbs unsweetened Belgian cocoa powder
1 Tbs balsamic vinegar
50g good quality chocolate, 70%-85% cocoa solids, grated (using a box grater), plus extra for garnish
3 punnets fresh raspberries
2 pints heavy whipping cream, whipped with a tablespoon of confectioner's sugar
*Note* If you don't have caster sugar, you can run your regular, granulated sugar through your food processor for a minute or two, to get the same fine consistency.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (180 C).
Whip the egg whites until soft peaks form, using either a stand mixer or a hand mixer.
Add the sugar, one Tbs at a time to the egg whites, and continue beating until stiff, glossy peaks form. Do not overbeat, as the eggs will separate. They are ready when the peaks are shiny and stiff, and don't collapse when you pull a beater from the egg whites. You may also turn the bowl upside down, and if the meringue doesn't fall out, perfect! Of course, if it does, you're kind of starting over from scratch...sooooo, up to you, really!
Sift in the cocoa powder, then add the balsamic vinegar and grated chocolate to the egg whites mixture. Very slowly and gently, fold these together, until the mix is a light brown shade.
To quote Katie's brilliant idea: "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.." How clever!
Trace a 9 or 10 inch circle onto the parchment, with a pencil or pen, then flip the paper over so you can still see the circle, but it won't touch your pavlova.
Load the egg white mixture into each circle, filling evenly. You can gently smooth it out, if you like, but it shouldn't be perfect. A classic pavlova should have crispy points and peaks after it is baked.
Place baking trays in the oven and immediately turn heat down to 285 deg F (140 C). Bake for one to one and a quarter hours. You'll know the pavlovas are baked through when it looks crisp at the edges and is beginning to crack. It should still be soft and spongy inside, but the top will be dry.
Turn off the oven, and leave the door ajar, to let the pavlovas slowly cool inside the oven.
When completely cool, remove from the oven, and top one disc with half the whipped cream, and half the raspberries.
The kiddos love to help, as it means licking the whip cream from the spatula afterward.
Place the other pavlova atop the first one, and smother it with the rest of the whipped cream and raspberries. Finish by grating chocolate over the top.
Heaven on a plate.