Hey everyone! Last week, we bought a ton of fresh cherries from a local farm. I made a chocolate almond cake with cherry topping you can see here. I wasn’t the only one with a plan, though; my partner decided he wanted to make something as a surprise for me. I let him, and I also let him write this post to show it off. Enjoy!
For those of you who know me, you know I like to do unusual, complicated recipes when I decide to experiment with something. In baking, that means skipping the usual cakes and going to trickier things, like a good meringue.
A while back, one of my online communities had a food discussion. In it, someone made a pavlova with a semifreddo to top it. The idea stuck with me, so I started looking around for some kind of pavlova to make myself.
Then we decided we would go get a bunch of cherries when they ripened up, as a break from our usual cycle of just blueberries and strawberries. Meringue and cherry… why not add some chocolate to the mix? So, that’s what I did.
A pavlova is a pretty flexible recipe, as I’ve come to find out. I made a wide, flat one, but a lot of people make “crown-shaped” pavlovas, with steep sides and a central well for the topping. I’ve also seen a lot of multi-layered pavlovas, but I didn’t want to make this TOO complicated, so I just did the one.
I don’t know if this is actually considered “black forest”. To me, that name has always just meant chocolate and cherry together. I suppose in technical terms it just refers to the cake, but I’m pretty sure anyone reading a pavlova recipe is going to get what I mean, right?
This recipe has three parts, all of which I made from scratch.
- The meringue. People are scared of meringues, but they’re pretty easy all things considered. Just whip the heck out of egg whites and you’re good to go.
- The whipped cream. Easy peasy, this stuff is super easy to whip up in a stand mixer. It’s really one of the best investments we’ve made in a while, as far as kitchen stuff goes.
- The cherry topping. Super flexible and easy, too. Just cook down some cherries with a bit of sugar. The secret ingredient for this one was a dash of almond extract, since we don’t keep liquor around and most of them call for rum.
That’s it! Easy, right?
I also recommend using the best quality you can get in cocoa powder and, more importantly, in the chopped chocolate you use. The chocolate I used comes from Dick Taylor, and is some of the tastiest chocolate I’ve ever had. Have you ever had chocolate that tastes fruity, without fruit in it? If not, try some of theirs. It’s incredible.
Anyways, here’s how to make this tasty, light dessert. I do recommend only making it when you’re going to devour it, though; if you try to store it and there’s any moisture at all, it’ll all turn into fluff.
Black Forest Pavlova
- Stand Mixer With Whisk Attachment
- Baking Sheet
- Parchment Paper
- Sauce Pan
- Rubber Spatula
- Small Bowls
- Cherry Pitter
For the Pavlova
- 6 Egg Whites
- 1¾ Cup White Sugar
- 1 Tsp Cream of Tartar
- 1 Pinch Salt
- 2⅔ Tbsp Corn Starch
- 3 Tbsp Cocoa Powder
- 1 Oz Chocolate Chunks
For the Whipped Cream
- 1½ Cup Heavy Whipping Cream Chilled
- 2 Tbsp Powdered Sugar
For the Cherry Sauce
- 4 Cups Cherries Pitted
- 1 Tbsp Lemon Juice
- ¼ Cup White Sugar
- 1½ Tbsp Corn Starch
- ½ Cup Water
- ½ Tsp Almond Extract
Make the Meringue
- Add the egg whites, salt, and sugar into the bowl of your stand mixer. Beat on med-high for 15-20 minutes. Don't worry about over-beating; as long as you aren't on too high, you pretty much can't.
- Draw an eight-inch diameter circle in parchment paper (I traced a plate) and flip it over to line your baking sheet.
- Preheat your oven to 350°F.
- Once your egg whites have been beaten to shiny, stiff peaks, sift in the corn starch and cream of tartar, and fold it to mix with the rubber spatula.
- Sift in the cocoa powder and fold to mix; it should turn a pale brown color. Make sure you get all the powder from the bottom of the bowl.
- Add your chopped chocolate pieces and fold to mix them in.
- Using the spatula, scrape and spread the meringue onto the circle on your parchment paper. It will spread out a bit as it bakes. Try to form a slight depression in the center, to make a bowl shape.
- Put the meringue into the oven and immediately reduce the heat to 225°F. The initial heat crisps the outside, while the lower heat slowly penetrates and bakes the inside.
- Bake for an hour. You may want to bake it a little longer if the inside is still the texture of whipped cream; ideally it will be a little gooier.
- When your baking time is up, prop open your oven door slightly with a wooden spoon or similar heat-resistant object, and let cool slowly with the meringue inside.
Make the Cherry Sauce
- While the meringue is baking, pit your cherries. Add them to a sauce pan.
- Add your sugar and a quarter cup of water, and start cooking the cherries over medium heat. For sweet cherries, cook for about 5-10 minutes, depending on how soft you want the cherries to be.
- Stir the corn starch and remaining water together to make a slurry. Add this to the cherries and let it cook for another 2-4 minutes.
- Stir in the lemon juice and almond extract. Remove from heat and allow to cool and finish thickening.
Make the Whipped Cream
- Make sure your mixer's bowl is cool, or chill it briefly in the fridge.
- Put the heavy whipping cream and sugar into the mixing bowl and mix on medium-high until light and fluffy. This should only take five or so minutes.
Assemble Your Pavlova
- Once your meringue disk is fully cooled, you can assemble your dessert. Carefully transfer it to a serving dish or platter (or leave it on the baking sheet) as desired.
- Spread your whipped cream on top of the pavlova, careful not to press down too much and squish it.
- Pour and spread your cherry sauce on top. Alternatively, put the cherries on first and top with whipped cream.
- Slice and serve!