Happy New Year everybody! I hope this year is your best one yet, I know it’s going to be mine! My first post of 2014 is going to be the dessert I made for Christmas day. It wasn’t actually eaten on Christmas day because I had work and then there were presents and dinner so by the time I finished baking it was 10:30pm! But they were enjoyed on Boxing Day.
Pavlova actually originated in Australia (or possibly New Zealand, I think they still argue over that). There are three good things to come out of Australia, they are: Heath Ledger, Chris Hemsworth and Pavlova. Since Heath Ledger is dead (sad face) and Chris Hemsworth is married, I’ll have to settle for eating pavlova! I actually only discovered that pavlova was Australian fairly recently, it’s always been a very British dessert in my head, probably because we eat it a lot and Eton Mess is basically a smashed up pavlova! This favourite dessert of mine consists of three main ingredients; meringue, fruit and cream. And it is open to so many different variations, you could never get bored with it!
Black Forest, on the other hand, is German. It started with a dessert called Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte in Black Forest, Germany and eventually worked it’s way into my heart as my favourite ever cake! It consists of chocolate, cherries, cream and kirsch (a cherry liquor) and it is divine. If you’re European you no doubt grew up eating it, if you’re not European then you may never have even tried it. If that’s the case, get down to your nearest quality bakery and get something that’s black forest flavoured, you can thank me later!
While Black Forest cake is my favourite cake, pavlova is my favourite dessert. So I have no idea why it took me so long to mix the two together, perhaps I was afraid of too much pleasure at once! Either way, it was a great Christmas present to myself I must say! This is a slightly sobered version of true Black Forest though as I could not find Kirsch for the life of me. I also could not find black cherries (I swear there’s a cherry embargo on me, whenever I try to buy them in any form I can’t), I did managed to find black cherry pie filling though and it actually worked really well even if it was a bit of a cheat!
[recipe title=”Black Forest Single Serving Pavlovas” servings=”12″ time=”Approx 3 hours”]
For the meringue:
- 8 egg whites
- 400g granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons good quality cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the topping:
- 500m double cream
- 2 tablespoons good quality cocoa powder
- 1 can black cherry pie filling
- Dark chocolate curls*
- Dark chocolate shavings**
* To make chocolate curls, run a clean potato cleaner peeler down the edge of a bar of chocolate.
** To make chocolate shavings, use a microplane or fine grater
To make the meringue
Preheat oven to 220C/430F/Gas 7. Line baking sheets with baking paper.
Separate your eggs and make sure you don’t get any yolk in your egg whites as it will prevent them from foaming up properly. You also need to make sure your equipment is grease free.
Beat your egg whites until stiff. Then slowly add sugar one tablespoon at a time and add the vanilla, keep beating at a medium speed until it forms stiff peaks. If you want to test they are stiff enough, turn the bowl upside down, if they stay you’re good! Obviously be careful as you do this in case they’re not stiff enough! Sift the cocoa powder into the raw meringue and gently fold in. You don’t want to fully incorporate the cocoa powder, you want to leave streaks (or not, it’s your life man).
Now you need to get your meringues formed on the baking sheet. Personally, I like to pipe them on, I find I can get them more evenly sized and better circles. Do it however feels easiest for you though. I piped 6 rounds per baking sheet (it makes 12 total), starting in the middle and circling out. Then I use the back of a spoon to create a well in the centre for all the filling to go in. I also use the back of the spoon to rough up the tops, you don’t want them to look piped, pavlova meringue is supposed to have a messy kind of look to it.
Place meringues in the oven and immediately turn the temperature down to 120C/240F/Gas. Bake for 50 minutes or until meringues are starting to go slightly golden on edges (try not to open the oven if you can help it though). Turn the oven off and leave the meringues in there until the oven has cooled.
To make the filling
Beat the cream with cocoa powder until stiff peaks form. Spoon scream into the middle of the cold meringues. Spoon over the cherry filling and top with the chocolate curls and shavings. Nice and simple.
If you’d like to make your own cherry and sauce mix it’s pretty simple. You need a large jar of morello cherries or even black cherries in kirsch or syrup. Drain the cherries, saving the syrup/kirsch. Set aside the cherries. Heat the syrup in a pan over medium heat and reduce it down to a honey consistency (5-10 minutes). Stir in the cherries and heat for a couple more minutes. Spoon over the top of the cream and meringue. You can also do the the cherries and syrup separately but I prefer mine to be all kinda mushed together! If you’d like to add real kirsch, add it to the syrups are you’re heating it. If using black cherry pie filling, mix a couple tablespoons of kirsch in with it before you spoon it over the meringues.
This recipe was adapted from Tanya Zouev’s Black Forest Pavlova with Espresso Cream