Chocolate and Berry Pavlova

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Two days ago my mother came home from work and asked if I had “taken a break.” I had no idea what she meant, I had been on summer break for the last month and a half literally doing nothing. Then she glossed her arm across our dining table. Ahh, I had taken a break from cooking. So, I usually make either lunch, dinner, or dessert every day! However, the past two days I hadn’t made really anything. (Edit: I tested out a recipe for “small-batch cupcakes” yesterday which failed miserably so I like to not count those) But yeah, I hadn’t made anything! And I was craving dessert because last night the MasterChef pressure test was making eclairs (which I made before–check out the My Random Musings tab at the top!). So, that brings me to this lovely pavlova.

Behold a dessert that contains one of the best flavor combinations in the world of pastry: chocolate and berries. Okay, I’ll admit I wasn’t too hot on this flavor profile a few years ago. But my sister LOVES chocolate raspberry anything. So, if I’m making desserts, gotta make what the fam will eat and, alas, that is a chocolate berry combo. The super awesome aspect of this dessert is its lightness…in both senses of the word. It’s barely caloric (so, lightand it’s made with whipped egg whites leading it to weigh next to nothing (so, light). It also utilizes berries which make it a perfect summer dessert.

Traditional pavlovas are shrouded with a mountain of freshly whipped cream. My twist, instead of whipped cream, which is so caloric, is putting a lighter raspberry flavored pastry cream on it. This desert desssert OMG dessert (Sorry, I’m listening to Muse right now, their old stuff is so good!) is a gem in the sense that there’s perfect balance: not too sweet, tangy from the berries, creamy from the pasty cream, crispy on the edges, and melt-in-your mouth center. Plus, there’s like barely any hands on work. So, for all the lazy bakers, whip out that stand mixer and get ready for a beautiful pavlova 😉

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Pavlova Recipe:

6-7 oz egg whites (1 egg white is also an ounces, so this could read 6-7 egg whites, I just used my scale for a batch of egg whites I had in the freezer. SPEAKING OF. I should mention, egg whites freeze beautifully! Just put them in a freezer safe air tight container. To defrost sit the container in room temperature water. It will be defrosted in about 2 hours, or you can stick the container in the fridge overnight!) (Also, do not discard yolks! You’ll need 1 for the pastry cream below and you can always make extra pastry cream and freeze it. It freezes well in a ziploc baggie–double bagged. For the rest, store in the fridge in a container and in the next 2 days make a lemon/lime meringue pie…delish!)
3/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp vanilla extract
Pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F
Trace an 8 inch round circle on parchment paper. Put trace side down on a baking sheet–this is the mold for the pavlova
In an electric mixer, whip the egg whites until frothy
Mix salt into sugar and then start adding sugar 1 tbsp at a time until done
Keep whipping until the egg whites become thick and stiff peaks form (Do not let them get dry though, that means a lot of the air has been sucked out!)
Once the egg whites are stiff, fold in cocoa powder, vinegar, and vanilla without deflating too much
Create a circle on the parchment paper. The circle should have raised edges with a slightly indented center for filling.
Bake for 1 hour and 10 minutes
After 1 hr. and 10 min. turn the oven off and let the pavlova cool in the closed oven. This will take anywhere from 3-6 hours. After about an hour you can opt to leave the oven door a crack open at this point the cold air shouldn’t affect the rise of the pavlova.

Raspberry Pastry Cream Recipe:

1/2 cup fat-free milk
3 tbsp white sugar
1 egg yolk
1 tbsp cornstarch
1/4 tsp vanilla paste
Scant 2 tbsp raspberry jam

Mix together egg yolk, cornstarch, and 1 tbsp of sugar
Heat fat-free milk and 2 tbsp of sugar in a saucepan until it starts to simmer in a large, heatproof bowl
At this point, stream the milk mixture into the egg mixture whisking vigorously so the eggs do not cook (it will get all bubbly and frothy, that’s okay)
Once the milk is combined into the egg, add the milk/egg mixture back to the saucepan and bring to bubbles, stirring constantly and all around
As soon as it starts thickening a little bit add in the jam
Keep stirring until it is fully thick and then add in vanilla paste
Take of heat immediately and transfer to a dish.
Cover dish with plastic wrap, making sure the wrap touches the surface of the cream so that a film does not form

When the pavlova and cream have cooled, spread the cream onto the pastry, stopping about 1.5 inches from the edge (form a little pizza crust!). This keeps the edges crispy and chewy. Top the pastry cream with about 1/2 cup of BERRIES (I picked blueberries, which looked lovely in the color scheme and tasted amazing!)

Enjoy, dig in, and take pictures of your lovely dish!

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