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Overhead view of Layered Chocolate Meringue Cake

Layered Chocolate Meringue Cake

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A dreamy magazine photo inspired this Layered Chocolate Meringue Cake: Three chocolate pavlovas  are layered with sweet whipped cream and crowned with chocolate shards for a magnificent result!

Side view of Layered Chocolate Meringue Cake on a white cake stand

Layered Chocolate Meringue Cake

This gluten-free dessert is perfect for those wishy-washy chocoholics like my daughter. Often she’ll like a chocolate cake, but complain that the frosting it too intense, too chocolaty. These chocolate meringues have a touch of cocoa powder, which is pacified by vanilla whipped cream and then accentuated with a topping of chocolate shards. This chocolate meringue cake is light, luscious and perfectly lovely!

Overhead view of Layered Chocolate Meringue Cake


Meringue Cake AKA Pavlova Cake

If you go strictly by the definition, this cake is made of three pavlovas, thus a pavlova cake. Meringues tend to be made of egg whites and sugar, whereas pavlovas have cornstarch and vinegar, making the inside more marshmallow-like or ‘”squidgy, ” as Nigella would say. My additions were cornstarch and lemon juice instead of vinegar, which also provided the acid needed for the classic texture of a pavlova.

Tips for Making Meringues and Pavlovas

There are still enough similarities between these two types of desserts that some general rules must be followed for both.

The Eggs

  • PRO-Tip: Your egg whites must be at room temperature. But note that eggs separate more easily when they are cold, meaning the yolks are less likely to break.
  • So due to the fragility of room temperature eggs, I like to separate the whites from the yolks when the eggs come out of the refrigerator. Then I cover them with plastic wrap and let them sit at room temperature. Save your yolks for ice creams, puddings or custards like creme brulee.
  • To prevent yolk from contaminating the egg whites, as the fat in the yolk will prevent your whites from whipping properly, you’ll need 3 bowls.
  • One bowl for the whites, one for the yolks, and one to catch your whites during the separating process. After the white is separated in that initial bowl, move it to the designated whites bowl, add the yolk to the yolks bowl and repeat the process.
  • If a yolk happens to break while you’re doing the separating, save it for scrambled eggs or some other use, but grab another clean bowl to continue separating the eggs.
  • Your bowls and beaters must be scrupulously clean, without a smidgen of grease. I make sure my mixer’s bowl and beaters have been washed in the dishwasher so they pass the test. Egg whites will not beat when they come in contact with any fat which includes residual grease on your equipment or even the teeniest bit of egg yolk.

The Whipping 

  • PRO-Tip: Using superfine sugar (I can find Domino’s brand around here) will dissolve more easily than regular granulated sugar. This is not required but helpful.
  • I used to think I could whiz my sugar in a food processor to make my own, but I read an article stating that this homemade version of superfine sugar is subpar due to  the sharp nature of the processed sugar grains.
  • Add the sugar slowly, about 2 tablespoons at a time, giving the egg whites a chance to dissolve the sugar. Rub some of the mixture between your thumb and index finger to check if it feels gritty. If it does, you can mix a bit longer, but I’d rather have a little grit than over beat the meringue.
  • The meringue is fully whipped when it’s thick and glossy.
Close view of layered chocolate meringue cake

Baking your Meringue

  • Since your meringue will be in the oven for 3 hours, it’s baked at a lower temperature than typical cakes or cookies.
  • This recipe also requires a 3 hour cooling down, drying out period in the oven after the initial baking period.  Make sure NOT to accidentally turn on the oven during this time.
  • PRO-Tip: Place a Post-It on your oven door reminding you not to use it while the pavlova is inside.
  • The template you drew on each piece of parchment helps you make the same sized meringues. I like using an off-set spatula to smooth the sides and tops.
  • If you only have two baking sheets, feel free to bake one meringue on one sheet and the other two on the second sheet.

Serving Your Meringue Cake

  • I photographed this meringue cake on a cake stand, but it wasn’t easy to slice on the pedestal stand. I suggest serving this dessert on a cake plate.
  • PRO-Tip: After smashing this cake to bits and having the whipped cream ooze out the sides with my first attempt to slice, I discovered that heating a serrated knife make much easier work of that task. I just run the knife under very hot water, then dry it off before slicing.

More Pavlova Recipes You’ll Love:

The first pavlova I ever made was this Chocolate Raspberry Pavlova from Nigella Lawson, that I served at a Memorial Day pitch in next door. The plate was practically licked clean! These Individual Raspberry Pavlovas give everyone their own dessert, always a bonus! Plus this Lemon on a Cloud is a twist on my mom’s recipe, and the first pavlova I ever tasted. Plus, though not a pavlova, these Easy Meringue Cookies are always a hit!

Layered Chocolate Meringue Cake on a white ceramic cake plate

Layered Chocolate Meringue Cake

3 sweet, light chocolate meringues layered with whipped cream for an elegant dessert!

Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 3 hours
Total Time 3 hours 30 minutes
Yield 12 servings


  • 6 egg whites, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups superfine sugar (use granulated if superfine not available)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons of cornstarch
  • 3 tablespoons good quality cocoa powder
  • 1 lemon juice
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • Chocolate shards to garnish


  1. Preheat the oven to 225º. Line 3 baking sheets with parchment. Draw a 7-inch circle on each piece of parchment, then flip the paper over. Set aside.
  2. Whisk together the sugar and the cornstarch in a small bowl. Set aside.
  3. Beat the egg whites till satiny in appearance. Slowly add the sugar mixture, while continuing to beat, until meringue is stiff and glossy. Sift cocoa powder over the meringue, mix to combine, then mix in the lemon juice.
  4. Divide the meringue between the baking sheets, keeping within the 7-inch circles. Smooth tops and edges with an offset spatula. Place in oven and bake for 3 hours until they're dry on edges and top. Pavlova will appear cracked. Turn off oven and leave in oven for 3 more hours.
  5. To serve, place one meringue on a serving plate. Whip cream with powdered sugar, vanilla. Top meringue with about 1 1/3 cup whipped cream, then repeat with the second and third meringue. Top with grated chocolate, chocolate curls or chocolate shards.


This recipe was inspired by Nigella Lawson's chocolate pavlova and the Chocolate-Coconut Pavlova Cake in Southern Living.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:

1 slice

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 267Total Fat: 15gSaturated Fat: 9gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 45mgSodium: 39mgCarbohydrates: 32gFiber: 0gSugar: 31gProtein: 3g


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23 comments on “Layered Chocolate Meringue Cake”

  1. What a gorgeous cake, not too chocolatey, just right.

  2. Holy cow that looks amazing!!! Truly a work of art Liz:@)

  3. I can only imagine how good it’s going to be when biting into that crisp meringue and smooth cream…heavenly!

  4. This is beautiful! I’ve never complained about anything being to chocolate but this still sounds amazing 

  5. Oh geez Liz – this is a work of art! Magazine pretty and it must be a delicious treat. Your chocolate shards are fantastic. Bravo!!! PINNED

  6. That awesome moment when you stick your index finger deep inside a cake fresh out the overn and lick the icing off ya finger.

    Yeeeeeeeeeeeeeeaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh buddy! 🙂

  7. This cake is so beautiful, it could be the center piece in a bakery window. Thanks for all the good tips.

  8. Love the layering, Liz! Bet they taste delicious! xoxo 

  9. I’ve got to try this, Liz! Thank you for all of your pro tips!

  10. I can imagine how good this cake must be, Liz, and it’s a piece of art!

  11. Just the right dessert to impress your guests! Simple yet elegant, I can’t wait to give it a try and hope it comes out as beautiful as yours Liz.

  12. I did not know this about meringues vs pavlovas. Regardless this might become my Passover dessert this year. It looks luscious!

  13. Nice job, i am definitely going to try this, thanks a lot for sharing.

  14. This is really amazing! Would love to give it a try!

  15. Such a show-stopping dessert! I love the chocolate shards!

  16. This is a beautiful dessert Liz!

  17. Question. .. how much time before serving can you add the whipped cream? Won’t it soften the merangue?

    • Hi, Peg,

      You can definitely make it early in the day if you’re serving in the evening. A little softening isn’t a problem, and we enjoyed leftovers for a couple days after making this cake.

      If you want to make the meringues a day early, that’s another option. Just store in a dry, non-humid spot. Hope you enjoy!

  18. Chocolate and Whipped cream, My favorite, Thank you fore Sharing this.

  19. I don‘t see how much cornstarch to use in the list of ingredients for the meringue.

  20. Can you please confirm the oven temperature? It says preheat oven to 225, but then later says DECREASE to 300? Is it Fahrenheit or Celsius? 

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