Chocolate Pavlova with strawberries
Time: 2 hours, plus 1½ hours cooling
¾ cup (149g) granulated sugar
⅓ cup (79ml) egg whites (about 3 large eggs)
¾ teaspoon distilled white vinegar
¾ teaspoon cornstarch
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 ounces (28g) dark chocolate, grated
1 ¼ cups (296ml) heavy cream, divided
2 egg yolks
2 tablespoons granulated sugar, divided
Pinch of salt
4 ounces (113g) dark chocolate, chopped, melted and cooled
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 ½ teaspoons chocolate liqueur or rum
MERINGUE: Heat oven to 250 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and draw a 7 inch circle in the middle, then flip the paper upside down. You should still be able to see the outline.
Combine sugar and egg whites in bowl and place over saucepan filled with 1 inch simmering water, making sure that water does not touch bottom of bowl. Whisking gently but constantly, heat until sugar is dissolved and mixture registers 160 degrees, about 5 minutes.
Remove from heat and using an electric mixer, beat with the whisk attachment on medium-high speed until stiff peaks form, about 5 minutes.
Stop mixer and scrape down bowl. Add vinegar, cornstarch, and vanilla, and whip on high speed until combined, about 10 seconds. Remove bowl and gently fold in grated chocolate.
Spoon meringue in center of circle and spread and smooth from center outward, building a disk that is slightly higher around edges. Disk should measure about 1 inch high with ¼-inch depression in center.
Bake meringue until exterior is dry and crisp and meringue releases cleanly from parchment when gently lifted at edge with thin metal spatula, 1 to 1½ hours.
Turn off oven, prop door open with wooden spoon, and let meringue cool in oven for 1½ hours. Remove from oven and let cool completely before topping, about 15 minutes. (Cooled meringue can be wrapped tightly in plastic wrap and stored at room temperature for up to 1 week.)
MOUSSE: In a small saucepan, whisk together ½ cup (118ml) cream, the yolks, 1 tablespoon sugar and the salt. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until mixture reaches 160 degrees, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from heat and pass through a fine-mesh strainer into a large bowl. Whisk in melted chocolate, vanilla and liqueur. Chill until cold, at least 2 hours.
Using an electric mixer, whisk together the remaining ¾ cup (177ml) cream with remaining 1 tablespoon sugar until firm peaks form. Stir 1/3 of the whipped cream into the chocolate mixture to lighten it, then gently fold in the remaining cream. Refrigerate up to 2 days.
Just before serving, spoon or pipe mousse into the center of the pavlova, then top with fresh strawberries, and chocolate shavings, if desired.