Make the Chocolate Pavlova for the new Cake Slice Baker’s challenge, they said. Yeah, it’ll be fun. It’ll be challenging.
Sometimes my brain isn’t thinking quite straight.
Why make an intricate “stuffed” pavlova when another CSB’s choice is a lovely Olive Oil-Chiffon Cake from Zoe Bakes Cakes? This is why:
Although my photos don’t do it justice, it’s an amazing crispy, chewy meringue filled with whipped chocolate mascarpone, caramel sauce and whipped cream.
Oh, and then there are toasted nuts to give it a nice crunch. I used pecans, but Zoe also recommends toasted salted peanuts, macadamias or whatever your favorite is.
Just don’t forget to toast them. That’s recommended for any recipe that has nuts in it – it makes a world of flavor difference.
The simple instructions on how to toast nuts are in the recipe card at the bottom of the post.
Making the actual Chocolate Pavlova shell is the easy part. You whip up egg whites with a little cream of tarter and superfine sugar, plus a bit of cocoa and vanilla and there you go!
Pile it up on a piece of parchment paper with a 6″ circle on it and bake it on low for awhile. I made my little 6″ circle with a cereal bowl and sharpie:
My pavlova spread a bit, but made a nice crater for all the good stuff to go in the middle.
Zoe mentions that it will probably crack, so don’t panic, but if you don’t open the oven it will crack less.
I left mine in the oven (heat off after baking) overnight with the oven light on to keep it nice and dry. If you have high humidity in your area, it’s not the time to make a pavlova – it would probably get soggy.
I changed the caramel recipe that Zoe uses because I tried it twice and ended up with this tasty, chunky, sweet candy. We’re enjoying it, but it’s definitely not pourable. Probably the cook behind the pan (me) was the problem.
Tasty caramel candy:
Ina Garten has a nice homemade caramel recipe (with no butter) that I used in case you want an alternative. Here’s the recipe from a previous recipe on my site.
If you want a shortcut for the caramel (coward), use a jar of your favorite premade caramel sauce.
My shell was delicate and cracked quite a bit when I started putting all of that wonderful filling in it, but that’s OK. Not so pretty, but oh my gosh, it tastes amazing!
When you take a bite, you get the creamy chocolate mascarpone topped with caramel, salted nuts and whipped cream times 2. Then you get the chewy bottom of the meringue that’s also chocolatey and oh, so delicious.
Incredible. Really incredible and somehow worth the time it took to make it. Kind of like childbirth – you want it over with while it’s happening, but the outcome is wonderful and the pain fades away.
OK, maybe not a good comparison, but really, it’s extraordinary.
If you’re up for a delicious, challenging, incredible dessert, do try this Chocolate Pavlova. I just can’t say enough about how decadently great it is!
Don’t forget to check out the other Cake Slice Bakers’ recipes (links below the recipe card).
- For the Pavlova:
- 5 egg whites, room temperature
- 1 pinch kosher salt
- 1/8 tsp cream of tartar
- 1 tbsp, plus 1 tsp Dutch-processed cocoa powder
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tsp vinegar
- For the Whipped Milk Chocolate Mascarpone:
- 3/4 C (180 ml) heavy whipping cream
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- small dash of kosher salt
- 6 oz (170 g) milk chocolate, finely chopped
- 3/4 C (170 g) mascarpone cheese
- For the Thick Caramel Sauce:**(see note)
- 1 C (200g) granulated sugar
- 1 tsp corn syrup
- 1/4 C (60 ml) water
- 1/3 C (80 ml) heavy whipping cream
- 2 tbsp butter
- 1 pinch kosher salt
- 3/4 C (90 g) toasted nuts (peanuts, pecans, your favorite)
- For the Perfect Whipped Cream:
- 1 C (240ml) heavy whipping cream
- 1 1/2 tbsp confectioner's sugar
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- Preheat the oven to 275° (135° C) and place a rack on the bottom third of the oven. Trace a 6" (15cm) circle on a piece of parchment paper and set it, upside down, on a baking sheet.
- Fit the whisk attachment to a stand mixer, then add the egg whites, salt, and cream of tarter to the bowl. Whisk on medium-high until medium soft peaks form, about 3 minutes.
- Turn the mixer speed down to medium-low and slowly sprinkle in the sugar a little at a time, taking your time to incorporate it. After sugar is added, turn mixer speed to high and whip until very stiff, but glossy peaks form, about 6-7 minutes.
- Remove the bowl from the mixer and gently fold in the cocoa powder, vanilla, and vinegar with a rubber spatula.
- Mound the whipped mixture onto the parchment paper circle, piling it tall. Use a metal spatula to smooth the mound, then swipe grooves into the meringue, creating curls/swirls at the top. Gently create a fairly deep crater at the top (like a volcano, where the curls/swirls meet.
- Turn on your oven light if you have one. Bake until the pavlova starts to turn a slightly darker brown color, about 1 hour and 15 minutes. Check after 45 minutes - if it's darkening too much, lower the oven temperature to 250° (120°C).
- Turn off the oven after 1 hour and 15 minutes (if your oven doesn't have a light, bake it 15 minutes longer) without opening the oven and let sit for at least 2 hours(or overnight). Leaving the light on during this period will help the pavlova stay dry.
- The center of the pavlova may collapse (that's normal) and will be where you put your filling. If it doesn't collapse into the cavity completely, use a paring knife to carefully open up a hole in the top. It may crack a little, but that's OK.
- Run a large metal spatula under the pavlova to release it from the paper, then carefully move to a serving plate.
- To make the Whipped Milk Chocolate Mascarpone: In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, stir together the cream, vanilla, and salt and heat until simmering. Turn off the heat and add the chocolate. Swirl the pan until the chocolate is submerged in the hot cream. Let sit for about 3 minutes, then whisk until smooth. Add the mascarpone and whisk until smooth.
- Pour the mixture into a bowl, cover and refrigerate until chilled, at least 1 hour or up to 1 day. (It will still be runny.) It won't whip up well if it's not fully chilled.
- Put the chilled mascarpone mixture into a stand mixer bowl and fit with the whisk attachment. Beat the mixture on medium until it just starts to thicken and turns a bit paler, about 30 seconds. Remove the bowl and continue to whip by hand, using the whisk attachment. Once the mixture is thick enough to spread, stop mixing. Use immediately.
- For the Caramel Sauce: Off the heat, place the sugar and corn syrup into a medium saucepan, making sure not to get the sugar on the sides of the pan (or it may crystalize).
- Add the water by gently drizzling it down the sides of the pan, washing down any sugar that may have gotten on the side of the pan. Do not stir, but gently run your (clean) finger through any dry spots of sugar, allowing the water to flow and mix into it.
- Once the mixture is all wet, set over high heat on the stove and bring to a boil - do not stir!
- Allow the mixture to boil until the sugar just starts to turn amber along the edges. Now you can stir without it crystalizing.
- Continue cooking until the caramel is a medium to dark amber color (depending on how deep of flavor you want the caramel).
- Using a long-handled whisk, carefully and slowly whisk the cream into the saucepan. The caramel with sputter and if you add the cream too fast, it may seize up. Be careful.
- Continue to cook and stir the mixture until it melts together and becomes smooth. Add the butter and salt and whisk until smooth. Remove from the heat.
- Let the caramel cool for 15 to 20 minutes, until it thickens. Transfer to an airtight container to store in the fridge for up to 4 days, or use immediately. If you refrigerate it, microwave it for 10-15 seconds to loosen up enough to pour.
- Toast your nuts: preheat the oven to 350° and pour the nuts on a baking sheet - sprinkle with salt if desired. Bake the nuts for 8-10 minutes until you just get that nutty smell coming from them. Remove and set aside to cool.
- To make the Whipped Cream: In a stand mixer bowl, add the cream, sugar, and vanilla. Beat with the whisk attachment at medium speed until just thick.
- Remove the bowl from the stand and finish whipping by hand until the cream reaches the desired consistency (1 minute or so). Use immediately.
- To fill: Spoon half of the chocolate mascarpone into the opening, then drizzle with one-third of the caramel sauce, sprinkle with one-third of the nuts, then top with half of the whipped cream. Repeat with the remaining mascarpone mixture, one-third more caramel sauce, one-third more nuts, and the remaining whipped cream. Finish by drizzling with the rest of the caramel sauce and sprinkle on the remaining nuts.
- Refrigerate the pavlova for at least 1 hour before serving to make it easier to cut.
My meringue ended up a little wider than 6" and flattened a little, but still beautiful!
Don't be afraid to turn the mixer on high to beat the meringue mixture.
I didn't have superfine sugar, so put the 1 1/4 C in my food processor and processed for about 1 minute until sugar "smoke" started coming out. I could still feel the granules, but it was a lot finer consistency and melted into the meringue easier.
I couldn't find Dutch processed cocoa (which is still recommended), so I used Hershey's. Tasted great.
**I couldn't get Zoe's caramel to work, so used the homemade caramel from this recipe: https://myrecipereviews.com/2016/08/27/caramel-swirl-pavlova/.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 10 Serving Size: 1 slice
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 138Total Fat: 9gSaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 17mgSodium: 120mgCarbohydrates: 11gFiber: 0gSugar: 9gProtein: 4g
Nutrition Values are Approximate
Each month The Cake Slice Bakers are offered a selection of cakes from the current book we are baking through. This year it is Zoë Bakes Cakes by Zoē François. We each choose one cake to bake, and then on the 20th – never before – we all post about our cake on our blogs. There are a few rules that we follow, but the most important ones are to have fun and enjoy baking & eating cakes!
Follow our Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest pages where you can find all of our cakes, as well as inspiration for many other cakes. You can also click on the links below to take you to each of our cakes. If you have a blog and are interested in joining The Cake Slice Bakers and baking along with us, please send an email to thecakeslicebakers at gmail dot com for more details.
The Cake Slice Bakers also have a new Facebook group called The Cake Slice Bakers and Friends. This group is perfect for those who do not have a blog but want to join in the fun and bake through this book.
It is a new year and a new book – Zoë Bakes Cakes – and our choices for April 2022 were ~