With its crisp shell and marshmallow interior, this Chocolate Pavlova with mascarpone cream and sweet ripe strawberries will thrill whoever gets a slice! Thanks to Gallo Family Vineyards for sponsoring this post. See details below.
Sometimes the best recipes come from a place in the heart. I’ve been reflecting on how my mom inspired me. It was more by example than anything. She put her family first. She filled our home with art and music. I loved falling to sleep with the echoes of Bach rising through the rafters. Her love of food and a beautiful plate was a huge influence as well. Our dining room table always had a beautiful tablecloth and a hodgepodge of candles which were lit even for a weeknight dinner. Milk went into a pitcher and she made sure our meal was colorful. You’d never see white cauliflower served with pale mashed potatoes and a gray slice of pork loin. She remained an artist in all aspects of her life. She made us pavlova before I ever knew the culinary term. It was a large meringue covered with lemon curd and whipped topping. There was always a second pavlova hidden away in the deep freeze. My three sisters and I were never scolded for helping ourselves to the spare.
The Melding of Families
In a way, Bill and I were raised in similar households–strong Catholic families, siblings, loving parents with over 100 years of marriage between the two couples, and Midwest values. But when it came to food, we were night and day. At the hubby’s childhood home, it was always meat and potatoes, and pizza was a snack, not a meal. His dad liked ordinary vegetables: peas, corn, green beans and carrots. My dad would eat nearly anything (but had nightmares about his mom’s oxtail soup), and my mom loved experimenting with ethnic dishes like baklava, moussaka, paella, matzo ball soup, profiteroles and eggrolls. But there was one dessert where our worlds intersected: meringues. It took me a while to decipher his memories of “sham-tortes,” which ended up being plain ol’ meringues. And then you have my mom’s lemon on a cloud creation.
The first pavlova I ever made was chocolate. I added some cocoa powder and semisweet chocolate to the meringue, then topped the crispy shell with a heavenly cloud of whipped cream and loads of ripe red raspberries. The family was instantly smitten. The recipe morphed. Any kind of berries were fair game. And then I added some mascarpone to the cream topping. It was now even more swoon-worthy. When I hit the market this week, the raspberries were sad and pale, but the strawberries were luscious and fragrant. A strawberry pavlova would be on our menu.
Tips for a Perfect Pavlova
- Your egg whites must be at room temperature for the best volume.
- Your bowl and beaters must be scrupulously clean. Any speck of oil will prevent the whites from beating properly.
- In the same vein, there must be no egg yolk in the whites. The fat in the egg yolk will also prevent the whites from beating properly.
- Use superfine sugar to help the sugar dissolve into the whites. You can make your own by whizzing regular, granulated sugar in a food processor.
- Do not overbeat your egg whites (they should never look dry) or your pavlova will crack.
- After the hour of baking, turn off oven, open the door, and let the meringue cool off in the oven.
Their fabulous Chardonnay is medium bodied with a touch of citrus and vanilla and a hint of oak. It’s perfect with seafood, poultry and cream sauces. I love it paired with salmon.
Gallo’s velvety Merlot has nuances of black cherry and plum along with some subtle oak undertones. It is ideal with grilled meats, pork, poultry and even pastas smothered in tomato sauce. I am a fan of Merlot paired with chocolate. It’s excellent to sip on with a decadent dessert!
To find where to purchase Gallo’s wines near you, check out their handy dandy store locator.
More Splendid Recipes and Wine Pairings
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Serves: 8-10 servings
- 6 egg whites, at room temperature
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1½ cups superfine sugar (I whiz granulated sugar in the food processor for a minute or so)
- ¼ cup good quality cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon raspberry or balsamic vinegar (I used black currant balsamic vinegar)
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, finely chopped
- 1½ cups heavy cream
- ½ cup Mascarpone cream
- ½ cup powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 4 cups sliced strawberries, gently tossed with a tablespoon of sugar
- Preheat the oven to 350º. Line baking sheet with parchment. Draw a 9-inch circle on parchment, the flip the paper over. Set aside.
- Beat the egg whites till soft peaks form. Add salt, then slowly add the sugar, while continuing to beat, until meringue is stiff and glossy. Sift cocoa powder over the meringue, then add vinegar, vanilla and chopped chocolate. Fold well till combined.
- Pile the meringue onto the baking sheet, keeping within the 9-inch circle. Smooth top and edges with an offset spatula. Place in oven and immediately decrease temperature to 300º. Bake for 1-1¼ hours till dry on edges and top. Pavlova will appear cracked. Turn off oven, open oven door, and allow to cool completely.
- To serve, carefully flip onto serving plate. Whip cream with powdered sugar, vanilla. Fold in mascarpone. Top pavlova with whipped cream, then sliced strawberries.
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Disclosure: Compensation was provided by Gallo Family Vineyards via Sunday Supper, LLC. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of Gallo Family Vineyards.