Sunday, 18 August 2013

Black Forest Pavlova

 I’m not sure I can think of a more perfect marriage of flavours than chocolate and cherry - especially if you throw a forkful of kirsch into the equation. A ubiquitous staple of British dinner parties in the 1970s, the Black Forest Gateau sadly fell from favour soon after. Heston Blumenthal did his best to bring it back with his poshed up version at The Fat Duck in recent years, but I thought I’d attempt my own, more modest, revival of this classic.

It’s hard to beat a Pavlova in the summer months. They’re a cinch to make, gloriously moreish to eat and naturally wheat-free; which means all the gluten dodgers in your life and mine needn’t miss out. This can also be made well ahead of time, so there won’t be any last minute pudding panics and you don’t need to bung it in the fridge until after you’ve smothered it in cream - which is extremely useful when your fridge is as micro-sized as mine.

The only relatively laborious process to this recipe is stoning the cherries. You’ll have to have a very dishy dentist to risk skipping this stage for, but I rather like the mindless repetition of sitting down with a large bowl of cherries, catching up on taped telly, and getting to work using my new fancy gadget. Be warned, you will end up looking like your hands have been marinating in Ribena for the last fortnight, but what are a few stains between friends? You can always pop on some latex gloves if you’re precious about your pinkies. Besides, cherries aren’t in season for much longer and I, for one, will miss them when they’re gone.

I will be dishing up this decadent dessert over the weekend and I can promise you won’t regret it if you follow suit. This Black Forest Pavlova makes a stunning centrepiece to any celebration, no matter the occasion, or the decade.

Black Forest Pavlova

Preheat the oven to 150°C (130°C Fan)/300°F/Gas Mark 2 and line a large baking sheet with baking parchment

4 large egg whites
A pinch of salt
225g caster sugar
2 tbsp. cocoa
1 tsp. red wine vinegar
50g chopped dark chocolate (you can simply blitz it in the food processor if you’re feeling lazy)

300ml double/whipping cream
2 tbsp. kirsch (optional)
450g cherries, stoned (you can macerate them in more kirsch if you like)
25g dark chocolate, grated

Whisk the egg whites and salt together until stiff, then gradually add the sugar, whisking well between each addition. You should have a thick, glossy meringue. Whisk in the cocoa and vinegar and fold the chopped chocolate in with a large metal spoon.

Dollop the meringue into a round on the lined baking sheet, making it slightly higher on the outer edges. Pop it in the oven to bake for 1 hour to 1 hour, 15 minutes, or until the meringue is crisp on the outside but marshmallowy on the inside. Turn the oven off and leave the meringue to cool completely inside, with the oven door shut. It’s easiest to make it in the evening and leave it to cool overnight.

Once you are ready to serve, Whip the cream until stiff but not dry and add the kirsch and whisk in again. Pile the cream on top of the meringue and spread it out a little. Scatter over the stoned cherries and top with the grated chocolate.