For the pavlova:
- 8 egg whites at room temperature
- 100 g dark chocolate (70% cocoa), chopped
- 2 cups castor sugar
- 1 ½ teaspoons white vinegar
- 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla essence
For the topping:
- 450 mls thickened cream, whipped
- 1 kg fresh cherries stones removed – keep about 12 whole with their stalks on for decoration
For the Cherry Berry Syrup:
- 250 grams cherries stones removed
- 150g blueberries
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup cold water
- Preheat oven to 190c (normal not fan oven), line baking tray with baking paper and mark a 24cm circle.
- Beat egg whites until firm (a pinch of salt will help). Add sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating constantly, until thick and glossy. (a free standing egg beater will help with this or get someone else to spoon in the sugar while you hold the beaters).
- Place chocolate in a small heatproof bowl over a small saucepan of simmering water (don’t allow bowl to touch water); stir until just melted. Cool slightly.
- Fold in vinegar and vanilla essence then swirl in chocolate.
- Spoon large dollops of meringue inside the circle on the baking tray, smooth into the shape of a Pavlova (circle) with a spatula. Mark decorative grooves around the side and indent the top to allow for the filling.
- Reduce the oven temp to 150c. Bake Pavlova for 1 ½ hours. If the Pavlova browns too quickly, reduce heat. (Avoid opening the oven if possible). Turn off the oven and leave the Pavlova to cool in the oven with the door slightly ajar.
- For the cherry syrup cook the cherries and berries with sugar and water on a medium heat for 5 minutes until the cherries are soft. Puree in a blender and then rub through a sieve. Return to the saucepan and cook on high heat for another 5 minutes, until think and syrupy.
- Place Pavlova on a serving plate and cover with whipped cream and decorate with whole cherries and cherry syrup.
If you’re not a fan of cherries or blueberries use strawberries or raspberries instead – or roast some peaches/nectarines on the BBQ til charred (3-5 mins each side).