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Chocolate Valentine Pavlova

This Chocolate Valentine Pavlova recipe is a dessert that even Cupid will love!

Trivia: According to Wikipedia, the dessert known as Pavlova is believed to have been created to honour the dancer Anna Pavlova during or after one of her tours to Australia and New Zealand in the 1920s

Tip: For best results, always use the finest quality chocolate available.

If you've never tried one of these delicious desserts from "down under", this could be the start of a real love affair. This recipe for Chocolate Valentine Pavlova is truly awesome.

However, I should warn you, it may prove challenging to inexperienced cooks. The recipe will spread unless the egg whites are beaten and folded to perfection. If you have made angel cakes or meringues successfully, you will probably have no problems. I have included some cooking tips for those who have not tackled meringues before.

Tip #2: To convert these measurements to metric, please refer to this online Cooking Converter

Valentine Chocolate Pavlova Recipe

Ingredients

6 egg whites
1/4 teaspoon of salt
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 1/2 cups of sugar (first amount)
2 teaspoons of cornstarch
1 tablespoon of vinegar
1 teaspoons of vanilla extract
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
2 ounces of chocolate, bittersweet (first amount)
3 cups of strawberries
1 1/2 cups of whipping cream
2 teaspoons of granulated sugar (second amount)
1 ounce of bittersweet chocolate (second amount)

Method

About the sugar (first amount):

You can use ordinary granulated sugar if you wish, but you may get better results using castor sugar, or caster sugar as it is often spelled. Refer to The Cook's Thesaurus for an explanation of castor sugar. Essentially, it is superfine sugar that you can buy or make at home by crushing granulated sugar in your food processor.

I suspect you could also make caster sugar by grinding your granulated sugar in a coffee grinder, but I have not tried this to know for sure.

Using this superfine sugar is a good idea because it will dissolve faster in your beaten egg whites than will ordinary granulated sugar.

About the egg whites:

You must separate the egg whites and the yolks. They separate easier when cold. You can purchase egg separators, which are small kitchen gadgets that make this task almost foolproof. However, the important thing is that you must not allow one drop of yolk to fall into the egg whites. If there is yolk present, the egg whites will not rise in volume when beaten.

You must also be sure that the utensils used to separate the eggs, the bowls and the mixing blade or whisk are 100% clean and free of grease. Any grease will prevent the egg whites from rising.

Once separated, bring the egg whites to room temperature before beating.

Once you have your sugar ready, and your separated whites are at room temperature, it is time to begin.

Turn on the oven and let it warm to 275°.

Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or waxed paper. If you are making this pavlova for Valentine's Day, you might want to shape your pavlova like a heart. Draw or otherwise mark a heart shape in the middle of the baking pan. The heart should be approximately eight inches in size -- or use a circular shape or rectangle that is about eight inches.

Melt the first amount of chocolate over hot water or in the microwave.

In a separate bowl, mix the cocoa powder and the cornstarch together.

Using another, larger bowl, add the egg whites, salt and cream of tarter. Using a whisk or a mixer with a whisk attachment, beat the egg whites until they make soft peaks.

When the egg white are in soft peaks, begin adding the sugar slowly. Add it one tablespoonful at a time, and beat well between additions. Your goal is to completely dissolve the sugar. If the sugar is not thoroughly dissolved, the egg whites will feel slightly gritty when you roll some between your thumb and finger.

When all of the sugar is added and dissolved, gently sprinkle or sift the cocoa/cornstarch mixture on top of the egg whites. Using a spatula, gently fold the cocoa into the egg whites. DO NOT STIR OR MIX. Next, gently fold in the melted chocolate (first amount), vinegar and vanilla. DO NOT OVERFOLD AND DO NOT STIR OR MIX.

Carefully and gently spoon your mixture onto the cookie sheet, placing it into the heart shape that you have drawn or made. Pile it higher at the edges to help prevent the mixture from spreading during cooking.

Tip: When you are cooking this (or any other meringue), the correct amount of cooking makes a difference. If the dessert is overcooked, sugary drops will form on the top. If it is undercooked, it will "weep" or liquid will ooze out.

Bake your Chocolate Valentine Pavlova in the center of the pre-heated oven for about 90 minutes. At that time, turn off the oven, open the oven door a crack, and allow the dessert to cool for at least half an hour or more.

When the pavlova is cooled, use spatulas and carefully transfer your dessert to a plate or tray.

When you are ready to serve your pavlova, add the second amount of sugar to the whipping cream and whip into peaks. Spread the whipped cream over the meringue evenly. Arrange sliced strawberries on top and drizzle the second amount of melted chocolate overtop.

This wonderful Chocolate Valentine Pavlova is crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. It's a beautiful Valentine's day dessert. You could also cook it in individual ramekins instead, but you may need to adjust the cooking time accordingly.


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