Chocolate raspberry pavlova

There are any number of reasons to be enamoured with pavlova. Perhaps you like the crunch of the meringue or how it melts on your tongue.

Maybe you're a sucker for the lightly sweetened clouds of whipped cream or the burst of fresh fruit.

What makes pavlova particularly spectacular to me is how the parts come together. Think about whipped cream for a second. There's nothing earth-shattering about a forkful on its own, but spear a berry and a splinter of meringue at the same time and you just may feel the ground give way.

Chocolate Raspberry Pavlova

6 egg whites
300 grams caster (berry) sugar
3 tablespoons cocoa powder, sifted
1 teaspoon balsamic or red wine vinegar
50 grams dark chocolate, finely chopped

500 mL whipping cream
500 grams raspberries
2-3 tablespoons grated dark chocolate

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

In a large bowl, beat the egg whites until satiny peaks form.

Beat in the sugar, one spoonful at a time, until the meringue is stiff and shiny.

Using a spatula, gently fold in the cocoa, vinegar and chopped chocolate.

Mound the meringue onto the baking sheet in a fat circle (about 23 centimetres, or 9 inches, in diameter) or 10 smaller circles. Smooth the sides and top(s), as needed.

Place in the oven and immediately turn the temperature down to 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Cook for 1-1/4 hours (for a single large meringue) or 3/4-1 hour (for 10 small meringues).

In the words of Nigella, "When it's ready it should look crisp around the edges and on the sides and be dry on top, but when you prod the centre you should feel the promise of squidginess beneath your fingers."

Turn off the oven and leave the oven door slightly ajar until the meringue cools completely.

Top with softly whipped cream (I flavoured mine with a 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla and sweetened it with 1 teaspoon of icing sugar), fresh raspberries and dark chocolate shavings.

Serves 10.

Source: Nigella Lawson's Forever Summer.