Chocolate Pavlova

I had Elle and her husband D over for dinner at my condo. We had lobster ravioli's (homemade and frozen), and I had to think of an easy dessert. With pints of fresh raspberries in my fridge, I thought a pavlova was the perfect idea. Elle had mentioned having a chocolate pavlova, and  I thought I would try my hand at it since I have gainfully mastered pavlova's in the past.

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Chocolate Pavlova.

Chocolate Pavlova (Serves 3-4)
I halved this recipe and adjusted the baking time accordingly.
From Joy of Baking.

* 3 egg whites, room temperature
* ⅛ tsp cream of tartar
* ½ cup sugar
* ½ tsp white vinegar
* ½ tsp pure vanilla extract
* ½ tsp cornstarch
* 1-½ Tbsp Dutch processed cocoa powder
* 1 ounce semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped

Preheat oven to 250 degrees F and place rack in center of oven. 
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and draw a 6 inch circle on the parchment paper.
With electric egg beaters or by hand, beat the egg whites until foamy. (The trick here is that the eggs should be at room temperature. Warm the eggs up in a bowl of hot water if you're getting them straight from the fridge. Also, make sure absolutely no yolk has tainted the egg whites. Break the eggs one at a time, transferring successfully separated egg whites to a separate bowl.)
Add the cream of tartar and continue to beat on medium-high speed until they hold soft peaks.
Start adding the sugar, a tablespoon at a time, and continue to beat until the meringue holds stiff peaks. (Test to see if the sugar is fully dissolved by rubbing a little of the meringue between your thumb and index finger. The meringue should feel smooth, not gritty. If it feels gritty the sugar has not fully dissolved so keep beating until it feels smooth between your fingers).
Using a large rubber spatula, fold in the vinegar and vanilla extract.
In a small strainer, sift the cocoa powder and cornstarch over the top of the meringue and, with the rubber spatula, fold in.
Lastly, fold in the chopped chocolate. (I chopped it fine but would leave bigger chunks next time to created gooey pieces of chocolate within the pavlova.)
Spread the meringue inside the circle drawn on the parchment paper, smoothing the edges. (I find what works best to get a nice circle is to put a large spoonful in the middle and work your way out.)
Bake for about 1 hour or until the outside is dry. (The outside of the meringues will feel firm to the touch, if gently pressed. There will be cracks and you will see that the inside is soft and moist.)
Turn the oven off, leave the door slightly ajar, and let the meringue cool completely in the oven.
The cooled meringue can be made and stored in a cool dry place, in an airtight container, for a few days.
Just before serving gently place the meringue on a serving plate.

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Making the pavlova.

* ½ cup heavy whipping cream
* 1 Tbsp granulated white sugar
* fresh fruit of your choice - raspberries are lovely with chocolate
* powdered sugar

Whip the cream until soft peaks form. (The trick here is that the cream should be cold and ideally, the bowl too. You can whip the cream over a second bowl of ice water to help.)
Sweeten with the sugar and spread the whipped cream over the meringue.
Arrange the fruit on top of the cream.
Serve immediately as this dessert does not hold and once you add the cream and fruit the meringue will start to break down.
Dust fruit with powdered sugar.

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We grabbed 3 spoons and dug into the pavlova without cutting it. It was amazing. The pavlova was crunchy on the outside, but still chewy on the inside. With the whipped cream and the fresh raspberries, it was a heavenly combination! Great results for minimal effort!

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