When you need an impressive dessert, a Chocolate Raspberry Pavlova is the answer! A cocoa meringue base is topped with a luscious cloud of whipped cream, sweet ripe raspberries, and chocolate shavings.
This magnificent pavlova is perfect to serve whenever you can find sweet, flavorful raspberries in the market. This dessert is a stunner, so wow your friends and family by presenting this beauty at your next gathering!
Chocolate Raspberry Pavlova
We had a cookout with dear friends and neighbors coming up and, naturally, I volunteered to bring a dessert. What to make? What to make? Chocolate for Bill, and something ultra decadent. I do have a reputation, you know.
An Easy, Make-Ahead Dessert
Nigella’s Chocolate Raspberry Pavlova was an instant hit when I first made it many summers ago. A crisp outer meringue juxtaposed with the chewy center was topped with a cloud of whipping cream. It formed the perfect base for mounds of beautiful red raspberries. YUMMY…my decision was made.
I like to make the meringue shell the night before I serve this dessert. After it cools, I just store it in the oven and top it with the whipped cream and berries a few hours before serving. If you do tuck away the pavlova shell in the oven, make sure to put a post-it on the door so you don’t accidentally turn on the oven.
The gang oohed and ahhed over this dessert. Many had never even heard of a pavlova (we had a few pronunciation lessons: pav-LOH-vuh), let alone tasted one. Even one guest, who swore he was not a dessert eater (hard for me to fathom), proclaimed its wonders. I know you will, too.
What is a Pavlova?
Simply put, a pavlova is just a big baked meringue (though you can make mini versions, too). Made of whipped egg whites and sugar, it’s then baked until the outside is crisp and the inside is “squidgy,” a term used by Nigella Lawson for describing the chewy middle. The marshmallow-like middle is one characteristic that differentiates a pavlova from a meringue.
Pavlovas are usually topped with cream and fruit and this chocolate raspberry pavlova varies from the classic version due to some cocoa powder and chocolate mixed into the meringue. Of course, there are numerous iterations using lemon curd, etc.
There is a debate where the pavlova originated, Australia or New Zealand. Both claim it as their own. The pavlova was developed in honor of Anna Pavlova, the Russian ballerina, who visited the region in the 1920s.
Tips for Making a Perfect Pavlova
Many of the tips for making meringues are appropriate for making a pavlova, plus there are some tricks that aren’t used with the small meringue cookies.
The Egg Whites
- PRO-Tip: First, when collecting your egg whites, make sure no yolk contaminates them and that your bowls and utensils are free from any grease. Even a small speck of egg yolk or oil will prevent the whites from whipping properly.
- The best practice is to separate each egg into an empty bowl, then pour the white into a larger bowl to whip once you know there’s no yolk contamination. Otherwise, separating over a whole bowl of whites could result in you having to toss them all if some yolk gets dropped in by mistake.
- Note that eggs separate best when they’re cold.
- Also important is to let your egg whites come to room temperature. This will also help the sugar mix in properly. I usually sit my bowl of whites in a larger bowl of warm water to take the chill off.`
Making the Meringue
- I also like to process the sugar in a food processor to make my own extra fine sugar. This will make it easier for the whites to absorb the sugar. Or just purchase superfine sugar in the baking aisle of your grocery store.
- To make your pavlova nice and round, take a 9-inch diameter pan and make an outline of it in the middle of a sheet of parchment paper. Flip the paper over and place it on a baking sheet. This is your template for spreading the meringue.
- Unlike a true meringue, a pavlova has the addition of vinegar. Just a small amount that won’t affect the flavor but helps make the exterior crisp and center soft. Cream of tartar or corn starch is often added to stabilize the meringue, but not in this recipe.
- Start adding the sugar when the egg whites are foamy, after about 1 minute of whipping. Add the sugar slowly.
- The meringue is ready when it’s thick, white and glossy. Ideally, you won’t want to feel any gritty sugar when you rub some of the meringue between your fingers.
Baking the Palova
- Scoop out the meringue onto your parchment-lined baking sheet. Use an offset spatula to spread it into a circle, then to make the top level.
- Bake as directed but let the pavlova cool in the oven with the door open.
Garnishing the Pavlova
- I used to add a whipped cream stabilizer called Whip-It to prevent the whipped cream topping from separating. PRO-Tip: Since I first shared this recipe, I’ve found that placing my mixing bowl in the freezer to chill before whipping the cream will also stabilize the cream.
- To make chocolate shavings, use a vegetable peeler and scrape down the flat side of a chocolate bar (see old photo below). For the larger shavings in my photos above, I found a block of Callebaut chocolate at Whole Foods, warmed it very gently in the microwave, and peeled larger curls.
This Chocolate Raspberry Pavlova recipe was originally shared in 2011. I’ve updated the photos and added more tips to assist you with making a perfect pavlova in 2018.
Pavlova Recipe Troubleshooting
If your pavlova didn’t turn out perfectly, I’ve got your back. Here are some specific issues that can occur when baking a pavlova and what you can do to prevent them from happening again.
Cracks – if there are cracks in your pavlova, there are a couple of reasons this could have happened. First, the sugar wasn’t dissolved before baking, so make sure to use superfine sugar and add very slowly, giving the sugar time to incorporate. A few cracks are OK and even with a lot of cracks, your pavlova will still be tasty!
The oven could have been too hot, so make sure you have an oven thermometer to double-check. Also, a pavlova can crack when it isn’t allowed to cool slowly in the oven. Some recipes have you turn off the oven and others have you crack the oven door.
Meringue Doesn’t Thicken – if your meringue does not eventually beat up into a white, glossy, billowy mass, it could be that your egg whites were contaminated with fat. This could be grease, fat, or oil on your beaters or mixing bowl or egg yolk contaminating your whites.
Take care when separating your whites from your yolks and if there’s any chance some yolk got into your whites, start over. Also, make sure your mixing implements have been washed thoroughly with hot soapy water or run through the dishwasher to eliminate any greasy residue. Do not use plastic bowls as they’re notorious for harboring oils.
Also, note that adding any water to the egg whites before beating will prevent perfect results.
More Pavlova Recipes You’ll Love:
- Strawberry and Mascarpone Pavlova Recipe from Saving Room for Dessert
- Blackberry Lemon Pavlova from Baking a Moment
- Peach Melba Pavlova Recipe from Tidy Mom
- Strawberry Topped Chocolate Pavlova
- Pavlova with Lemon Curd
- Blackberry Lemon Pavlova
- Individual Pavlovas
- 900+ Dessert Recipes
- 6 egg whites, at room temperature
- 1 1/2 cups superfine sugar (I whiz granulated sugar in the food processor for a minute or so)
- 3 tablespoons good quality cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon raspberry or balsamic vinegar
- 2 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, finely chopped
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 1/2 cup powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 2-3 tablespoons coarsely grated semi-sweet chocolate
- 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 satiny in appearance. Slowly add the sugar, while continuing to beat, until meringue is stiff and glossy. Sift cocoa powder over the meringue, then add vinegar 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 1-1 1/4 hours till dry on edges and top. Pavlova will appear cracked. Turn off oven, open oven door, and allow to cool completely.
- To serve, invert onto serving plate. Whip cream with powdered sugar, vanilla and Whip It, if using. Top pavlova with whipped cream, then sprinkle with raspberries followed by grated chocolate.
Recipe adapted from Nigella Lawson.
Total time does not include cooling time.
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Amount Per Serving: Calories: 452Total Fat: 25gSaturated Fat: 16gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 8gCholesterol: 67mgSodium: 59mgCarbohydrates: 55gFiber: 1gSugar: 53gProtein: 5g