Black forest cherry pavalova
If you're looking for a showstopper for Christmas or another special event, this. is. it.
Dark chocolate, coffee, cherries, and a sticky cherry-toffee syrup all stud this amazing dessert to make something pretty spectacular.
If you've never tried pavalova, it's essentially a kiwi* version of a meringue. Except, rather than being firm the whole way through, the added cornflour and vinegar turn the centre into something fluffy and marshmallowy, and the outside crust into something a little chewier.
Like a meringue, they can be a bit finnicky. But with these pointers, you won't go wrong:
- The mortal enemies of the pavalova are water and oil. So make sure your bowls and cooking utensils are completely clean and dry before starting.
- When separating your egg whites from the yolks, make sure you don't get any yolk in with the whites. I do this by breaking them one by one into a little bowl before adding to the mixer bowl. This stops you wasting a whole tray of eggs when the last yolk accidentally breaks into the whole bowl. It's extra faff, but believe me, it's worth it!
- For that matter, use eggs at room temperature. This will hep them fluff up easier and faster than cold eggs.
- When adding the sugar, go slowly, one tablespoon at a time. You'll then need to beat the mixture longer until the sugar is completely dissolved. You can check this by rubbing a little of the mixture together between your fingers. If you can still feel the grains of sugar, you need to beat the mixture for longer.
- Caster (or superfine) sugar will help speed up this process.
- To get two perfectly round tiers, trace the shape of a dinner plate or cake tin onto the underside of some baking paper. When you shape the pavalova, you can then use this as a guide
- And the cardinal rule of pavalova: DO NOT OPEN THE OVEN once the pavalovas are in. Bake them for the period per the recipe, then, without opening the oven, turn it off and leave the meringue to cool completely in the oven. Preferably overnight. My mum used to put a note on the oven door advising anyone not to open the oven unless they desired to lose a hand.
- Assemble the pavalova at the last minute, as the toppings will cause the crust to soften and break down. Make the meringues ahead of time, and store in an airtight box or cake tin until you're ready to go.
If you follow those rules, you shall be rewarded with a beautifully risen, crack free pavalova which any kiwi mum would be proud of. Just don't drop the finished product on the floor.
*Controversial! as the Aussies try and claim it as an invention of their own. But this kiwi is sticking to her guns.