It is certainly no secret just how much I love a pavlova. That soft mallowy centered meringue with it crisp shell works well with an infinite amount of toppings, or at least it feels that way. I like to keep things simple and have one or two fruits on top I am not overly keen on an entire fruit salad being on top and secondly with all the sweetness of the meringue and all that whipped cream I feel it is important to have fruit or something that can provide tartness as well to cut through it all. Passion fruit work well, as do strawberries, raspberries and kiwi.
This version, my black forest pavlova is quite different to any pav that I have done before in that the usual perfect white base contains chocolate giving it a cream coloured hue. The base as well as contain cocoa powder also contains finely chopped chocolate which you really taste when eating.
After the pavlova has cooled I slather it first with some tart cherry curd and then top with the soft cream its all a bit backward but trust me it works. Should you add the cream first you will have real difficulty spreading the curd over the cream.
Note: You can make the base a day ahead and store it once it has cooled in an air tight container. The curd can also be made ahead of time and stored covered in the fridge up to 3 days in advance. It is best to assemble no more than an hour before eating so that the pavlova shell retains maximum crispness.
Heat oven to 150°C/130°C fan. Using a stand mixer or an electric hand mixer whisk the egg whites on a medium speed until they reach soft peak stage. By which I mean that when your remove the whisk it will form a peak that flops over.
Gradually add the sugar one tablespoon at a time whilst continuing to whisk and allow a few seconds between each spoonful. After all the sugar is whisked in turn up the speed and continue to whisk until it becomes glossy and has stiff peaks that remain upright when the whisk is removed.
Dab the four corners of a baking sheet with the meringue that remains on the whisk. Place a piece of baking parchment on the tray, the meringue acts as a glue and sticks the parchment to the baking sheet. Spoon the mixture into the centre of the baking sheet and with a palette knife or spatula form into a fat disc. Smoothing the sides and top.
Place in the oven and cook for 1 hour. Then switch off the oven and allow to cool completely in the switched off oven. Can be made the day ahead simply store in an airtight container once cool.
Meanwhile, to prepare the cherry curd. Add the cherries, sugar, lemon zest & juice, corn flour and water to a small saucepan. Stir together, then switch a medium heat on under the pan and cook for 6 - 8 minutes until it changes colour from a vibrant pink to a deep red and thickened. Pour into a measuring jug and allow to cool.
When ready to assemble turn the meringue out onto a plate or cake stand. Spread the now cool cherry curd over the meringue pushing it right to the edges. Whip the cream until it is softely whipped and slather over the curd. Sprinkle the finely chopped chocolate over the pavlova and serve.