From the tender age of three, up until about eighteen, I took part in Classical Ballet lessons. No doubt there were days when I didn’t want to attend, but for the most part I danced along quite happily, grand-jetéing and pirouetting all the way to class… Ballet books lined the shelves, tutus filled the dress-up tub and oh so much oohing and aahing was had over the national and international ballet dancers who came to perform in our local theatre. My mother bought season tickets each year for us both to attend. Mikhail Baryshnikov was my pin-up boy… until the likes of INXS, Wham and Michael J Fox took over. Ahh yes, I’m an 80’s girl after all…
So unsurprisingly, in my younger years, a pavlova would be my number one request each year for my Birthday Cake. A dessert created for the beautiful, touring Russian ballerina, Anna Pavlova – what could be finer? I thank my Mum dearly for making such delicious cakes over the years and for always making whatever our hearts desired. I’ve continued that tradition with my own children and love the challenge of finding a way to make their requests come to fruition, not to mention the priceless looks of wonder and appreciation at the finished cakes.
These days pavlova makes an appearance in our house more often at Christmas and always on Australia Day (January 26th). A summer dessert, perfect for when berries and passionfruit are in season and the sun is sitting high in the sky. This year, it was a Chocolate-Chip Pavlova that adorned our Christmas Day table and tempted us to eat just that little bit more…, deliciously topped with fresh raspberries, strawberries and chocolate curls.
The recipe below is adapted slightly from a classic recipe of Stephanie Alexander‘s in her amazing tome The Cook’s Companion. I feel rather strongly that the oven temperatures she uses are too hot (for my own oven, at least…), resulting, once before, in an unfortunate-looking, browned pavlova. Never a good look… unless of course you’re making a Chocolate Pav! One of my dearest friends, Claire, made a wonderful Chocolate-Chip Pavlova a couple of years ago and ever since then, I’ve shamelessly added choc-chips to my own – thinking of her ALWAYS when I do though! xx
Chocolate-Chip Pavlova | Gather and Graze
- 4 Free-Range Egg Whites (at room temperature)
- Pinch of Salt
- 220g/1 Cup Caster Sugar
- 2 Teaspoons Cornflour (Sifted)
- 1 Teaspoon Verjuice (or White Wine Vinegar)
- 100g/½ Cup Good Quality Dark Chocolate (Chopped)
- 300ml Cream (Whipped to Soft Peaks)
- Fresh Fruit/Berries/Shaved Chocolate to Decorate
Pre-heat the oven to 130°C. Line a large baking tray with baking paper.
Using an electric mixer, whisk the egg whites and salt until soft peaks form. Slowly add the caster sugar while continuing to whisk, until stiff peaks form. Fold in lightly the cornflour, verjuice/vinegar and the chopped chocolate.
Scoop the mixture onto the baking tray and shape into a 20cm round, flattening the top and sides.
Bake for 1½ hours and then turn the oven off, prop the door slightly ajar with a wooden spoon, leaving the pavlova shell to sit in the oven until completely cool.
When ready to serve, top the shell with whipped cream, fresh berries/seasonal fruit and a scattering of chocolate curls.
* Recipe adapted from Stephanie Alexander’s ‘The Cook’s Companion’ Cookbook