This is a family favorite dessert that I usually make for or around Valentine's Day. It is really good anytime you can find some really nice raspberries...It is chocolatey...squidgy and marshmallowy on the inside...crisp on the outside...just plain heavenly as far as my family is concerned. Another great recipe from Nigella Lawson...
CHOCOLATE RASPBERRY PAVLOVA
for the chocolate meringue base:
6 egg whites
one cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons best quality, unsweetened cocoa powder, sieved
1 teaspoon balsamic or red wine vinegar
2 oz bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
for the topping:
2 cups heavy cream
4 cups raspberries
2-3 tablespoons coarsely grated bittersweet chocolate
Preheat the oven to 350* and line a 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 9 inches in diameter, smoothing the sides and top. Place in the oven, then immediately turn the temperature down to 300* and cook for about one to one and a quarter hours. When it's ready it should look crisp around the edges and on the sides and be 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're 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 so that you get curls rather than rubble, as you don't want the raspberries' luscious colour and form to be obscured, and sprinkle haphazardly over the top, letting some fall, as it will, on the plate's rim.
MY NOTES: I happened to have some Maille Raspberry vinegar and used that...it gave a nice perfume to the meringue, but it is also wonderful with Balsamic or regular red wine vinegar. Also I pre-heated the oven to 350* and then turned down to 300* and let it stay there for about 20 minutes before I put in the Pavlova. Mine is usually done in less than an hour to an hour, so start checking at about 50 minutes. All ovens are different. I also skip the step of inverting the Pavlova onto a plate. I did it once and all I can say is it is asking for trouble. You can crack your beautiful Pav...but the good news is that if you do and it cracks, all is covered by a lovely coating of softly whipped cream and no one will be the wiser. This sometimes can spread while baking
so I draw a 9 inch circle on one side of the parchment and turn it over. When I am loading the meringue onto the baking tray I do my best to keep the meringue inside of the circle and try to pile it high, because of the spread. But none of this has anything to do with the taste.....
With this one I used Droste Cocoa and Valrhona chocolate...I also add 2 Tablespoons of confectioner's sugar and a teaspoon of vanilla to the cream. Do your best not to over whip the cream...it makes a big difference if it is softly whipped....
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