Chocolate Raspberry Pavlova

for the chocolate meringue base:
6 egg whites
300g/1 cup caster (caster) sugar
3 Tbl unsweetened cocoa powder, sieved (sifted)
1 tsp balsamic or red wine vinegar
50g/2 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped

for the topping:
500ml/2 1?4 cups double (heavy) cream
500g/1 pint raspberries
2-3 Tbl coarsely grated dark chocolate

Preheat the oven to 180C/gas mark4/350F and line a baking tray with baking parchment.

Beat the egg whites until satiny and then gently fold everything until the cocoa is thoroughly mixed in. Mound onto a baking sheet in a fat circle approximately 23cm/9 inches in diameter, smoothing the sides and top. Place in the oven, then immediately turn the temperature down to 150C/gas mark 2/300F 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 onto 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.

serves 8-10

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