Individual Chocolate Pavlovas with Berries, Whipped Cream & Shaved Chocolate

This is the perfect finale to a romantic dinner! Light and crisp on the outside, marshmallow soft on the inside, these "Pavlovas"(named for the ballerina that these were created for), or meringues, are really easy to prepare and can be made several hours in advance.  Filled with fresh strawberries and red raspberries marinated in Chambord and a sprinkle of sugar, topped with fluffy whipped cream and finished with a shave of decadent dark chocolate, this beautiful dessert is just a little bit sexy.  This has a place on my list of favorite "suitable-for-entertaining" desserts!   Serves 6

Prepare the Berry Topping:

16 ounces fresh strawberries, cleaned & sliced (I use an egg slicer!)

8 ounces fresh red raspberries, rinsed and drained on paper towels

1 Tablespoon Chambord (raspberry liquer)

2 Tablespoons sugar

Combine all in a bowl and set aside.

Make the Pavlovas (meringues):

3 large egg whites, at room temperature

1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

Pinch of salt

3/4 cup sugar

1 Tablespoon + 2 teaspoons sifted cocoa powder

Preheat the oven to 325-degrees.  Line a half-sheet pan with parchment paper, cut to fit.  Use a 3-inch biscuit cutter or the bottom of a 3-inch glass to draw 6 circles on the parchment.  Flip the paper over so that the meringues will not touch the pencil marks.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, (or in a large bowl if using a hand mixer) beat the egg whites until peaks start to form.  Sprinkle with the cream of tartar and salt, beat to combine.  With the beater running, slowly add the sugar and beat until stiff peaks form.  Sprinkle the cocoa over the egg mixture and whip just until combined.

Using a spoon mound the meringue onto the parchment-lined pan, using the pencil marks to guide the meringue into circles.  Using a spoon, make an indentation in the middle of each meringue (this will hold the berries).  Place the pan in the oven and reduce the heat to 300-degrees.  Bake until the meringues are dry on the outside and soft in the center, 50 minutes.  Cool the meringues on the sheet pan.

Whipped Cream Topping & Chocolate Shavings

3/4 cup heavy cream

2 Tablespoons powdered sugar

In a chilled bowl, beat the cream and sugar together until peaks form.

2 ounces best-quality dark chocolate, held in the hand to warm a bit, then shaved with a vegetable peeler into little curls

To serve:

Place meringues on serving plates or shallow bowls.  Divide the berries between the meringues, top with whipped cream, and sprinkle chocolate shavings over the top.

Serve immediately.

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