Crispy Meringue Topped with Whipped Cream & Fresh Berries
6 egg whites [180 g]
1.5 cups granulated sugar [300 g]
1/4 tsp table salt [1.4 g]
2 tsp red wine vinegar (substitute: balsamic vinegar) [10 mL]
2 tsp cornstarch [5 g]
1/4 cup unsweetened natural cocoa powder [20.5 g]
2 oz bittersweet chocolate [56.6 g]
1 pint heavy cream [480 mL]
1 tbsp granulated sugar [12.5 g]
2 tsp vanilla extract [10 mL]
6 oz blueberries [170 g]
6 oz raspberries [170 g]
6 oz blackberries [170 g]
1/2 oz bittersweet chocolate [14.2 g]
Making the Meringue:
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F (175 C). Prepare a large baking sheet by lining it with parchment paper, and draw a 9" circle using a round pan. Turn the parchment paper over so you can see the line but the ink is facing down.
In a large bowl, add in 6 room temperature egg whites and beat them with a hand mixer (or stand mixer) on high speed till it starts to look cloudy, and you see peaks.
While continuing to beat, slowly add in 1 1/2 cups of granulated sugar, a spoonful at a time, and continue beating until the meringue looks shiny and you see stiff peaks. This usually takes about 10 to 15 min using a hand mixer at full speed.
Then add 2 tsp of red wine vinegar, sift in 2 tsp of cornstarch, and fold this in carefully. This is what will create a fluffy marshmallow center, but still keep the pavlova crispy on the outside.
Sprinkle in 1/4 tsp table salt, sift in 1/4 cup of unsweetened natural cocoa powder, and 2 oz of bittersweet chocolate that's been finely chopped up. Gently fold this in a bit, careful not to knock out any air from the meringue mixture. And you want to under-mix it so that it has a marbling effect.
Take the parchment paper on the prepared sheet pan, and dab a little meringue on 4 corners facing down, so that the parchment paper won't flap up during baking.
Transfer the meringue mixture into the 9" circle on the parchment paper-lined baking sheet, creating a circle of meringue. Try to create higher walls on the sides with a cavity in the middle of the meringue. This is where the whipped cream and berries will be added later on. You can create any design you like, but I like to texture the surface by creating small peaks.
Place the sheet pan on the lowest level of the oven, close the oven door, and immediately turn down the temperature to 300 degrees F (150 C), and bake it in the oven for 1 hour. Turn off the oven, leave the door closed, and let it cool completely in the oven. This will take about 2 to 3 hours, or you can leave it in the oven overnight.
When you're ready to serve the pavlova, peel the meringue off the parchment paper and transfer it onto a serving plate.
Adding the Topping:
In a large mixing bowl, add in 1 pint of very cold heavy cream, add in 1 tbsp of granulated sugar, and 2 tsp of vanilla extract. Whip this with an electric mixer until you see stiff peaks. This whipped cream mixture is purposely not that sweet, since the meringue contains plenty of sweetness.
Transfer this fresh whipped cream into the cavity at the center of the meringue. Make sure to get whipped cream all the way to the edges, otherwise the juices from the berries will soak into the meringue making it soggy.
On top of the whipped cream, scatter a mixture of 6 oz of blueberries, 6 oz of raspberries, and 6 oz of blackberries. Then finally, using a cheese grater, shave half an oz of bittersweet chocolate over the finished pavlova.
Serve it in wedges and keep leftovers in the fridge. Keep in mind that the pavlova is meant to be eaten immediately, and the meringue will become more and more soggy the longer it sits. Enjoy!