Chocolate Pavlova with Poached Pears

I’m taking a quick break from my cookie marathon to bring you a very important new recipe. In case you are looking for a show-stopping, beautiful, rich, light, flavorful, delicious dessert to serve on your holiday table, search no further! This stunning cake is easier to prepare than it looks, especially if you take a quick shortcut and use bottled egg whites, like Le Naturelle albume d’uovo biologico. I don’t know about you, but I’m taking every shortcut I can find between now and Christmas… every minute counts!

Chocolate Pavlova with Poached Pears

For the meringue

  • 6 large egg whites (180 g), or pasteurized organic egg whites like Le Naturelle albume d’uovo biologico
  • 1 1/2 cup (300 g) superfine sugar
  • 3 tablespoons cocoa powder (sieved)
  • 1 teaspoon corn starch
  • 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar (or red wine vinegar)

For the topping

  • 1 lemon
  • 1 orange
  • 1 stick of cinnamon
  • 1 cup (200 g) sugar
  • 3 pears
  • 2 cups (500 ml) heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup (30 g) powdered sugar
  • 3 tablespoons dark chocolate (coarsely grated)

For 8-10 servings Preheat the oven to 180°C/350ºF and line a baking tray with baking parchment. Beat the egg whites they begin to form peaks, then beat in the sugar a spoonful at a time until the meringue is stiff and shiny. Sprinkle over the cocoa, corn starch and vinegar and gently fold until the cocoa is thoroughly mixed in.

Draw a 9 inch / 23 cm circle on a sheet of parchment paper (you can trace a cake pan for the size). Mound the meringue into the circle, smoothing the sides and top. Place in the oven, then immediately turn the temperature down to 150°C/300ºF and cook for about one to one hour and 15 minutes. When it’s ready it should look crisp around the edges and on the sides and be dry on top, but should be slightly soft in the center. Turn off the oven and open the door slightly, and let the chocolate meringue disc cool completely before removing.

Meanwhile, prepare the pears: Place the peeled zest and juice from the lemon and orange into a saucepan, just large enough to hold the pears. Add the cinnamon and sugar, pour in 500ml of water and bring to the boil. Cook until the sugar dissolves. Peel and halve the pears, then once the sugar has dissolved, reduce the heat and lower the pears into the syrup. Simmer gently for 10 to 12 minutes, or until tender, then remove from the heat and leave to cool. While the cream with the 30 g of powdered sugar until soft peaks form.

When you’re ready to serve the dessert, invert the pavlova on to a serving platter. Mound the whipped cream on top of the meringue, then arrange the poached pears on top. Coarsely grate the chocolate, and sprinkle over the top. Serve immediately.

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