Chocolate Pavlovas

Yield: 8 individual pavlovas
Recipe: 129/200
“Back to Baking”, pp. 301


     It is clear to me now that I really am not good at making meringue desserts. I have tried twice now to make Pavlovas, and they always crack. Very finicky desserts, these. I don’t know what I am doing wrong but I can never get them right. I followed tricks on the internet to try to prevent it from cracking, the main one being to let them cool down in the oven after baking by shutting off the temperature and cracking the door open. However, by doing this I think the Pavlovas continued to bake and they were sadly overbaked and quite dry. I also put one blueberry too many on the baked and cooled Pavlova, and it simply collapsed under the weight. Sadly I was not a fan of this recipe, not only because of my technical failures, but the taste was also quite strange to me. I did not enjoy the mixture of balsamic vinegar and chocolate, although it did smell good as it was baking. Disappointing effort on my part, but it was still nice to try! Let me know if you have any tips and secrets for a fool-proof Pavlova that doesn’t crack!

Update – I have been munching on the unassembled Pavlova shell over the past couple of days and I actually quite like it. Perhaps without the cultured crème fraîche I can appreciate more the flavour of the chocolate pavlova itself. Not all is lost.


  • 6 egg whites, at room temperature
  • ½ teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1 ½ cups sugar
  • 3 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 recipe Crème Fraîche
  • 4 cups mixed fresh berries


  1. Preheat oven to 275°F. Cut two sheets of parchment paper to fit 2 baking trays, and trace 4 circles about 4 inches across on each paper. Place them on the trays, marker side down. 
  2. Whip the egg whites and cream of tartar until they are foamy, then slowly add the sugar and continue whipping at high speed until the whites hold a stiff peak when the beaters are lifted. The egg whites should be thick and glossy.
  3. Stir the cocoa powder and cornstarch over the whites and fold in gently.
  4. Quickly fold in the balsamic vinegar and vanilla extract. 
  5. Dollop a generous cupful of meringue onto each circle drawn onto the parchment paper. Gently press an indent into the centre of each, but don’t flatten or spread the meringue too much.
  6. Bake the Pavlovas for 75 to 90 minutes, until they are dry on the outside. Let them cool to room temperature, then store in an airtight container until ready to serve.
  7. Serve the Pavlovas with a dollop of crème fraîche on top of each, and sprinkle with fresh berries. The Pavlovas will keep, unassembled, in an airtight container for up to a day.