This right here, is what a Black Forest cake WISHES it could be.
Layers of chocolate-swirled meringue with dark chocolate mousse, glossy cherries, soft whipped cream and some chocolate curls thrown in for funzies. Repeat until epic tower of delicious awesomeness is achieved.
I mean, look at it - I'm committing sugar-on-sugar crime and I'm not even sorry!
Which reminds me, quick poll: If I call this gluten-free (which it is) does that make it diet food?
Right, so you want to know how to make this epic tower of deliciousness? First, you need to start with the crispy marshmallowy layers of meringue. Have I mentioned how much I LOVE meringue? It's literally food magic. Which, kind of makes me a dessert magician! I'm totally okay with this title by the way (switches tabs and adds it to twitter bio).
So meringue is made out of just two ingredients, which means they need to be GOOD ingredients: free-range eggs, people (yes it costs a bit more but you're voting for a better world with your money) and proper, unrefined sugar. It makes a difference, I promise you. Natura Sugars makes this beautiful Golden Caster Sugar (swoon over the colour!) which not only dissolves quickly when you're making meringue but also gives a subtle caramel flavour which is just heaven with the dark chocolate.
For the chocolate mousse, I've chosen a recipe that uses up all the egg yolks leftover from the meringue because throwing them away just seems like a waste. If you'd like an easier recipe, use my 2-ingredient chocolate mousse and if you're feeling super lazy (no judgement here!) simply grab a tub from the shops.
The Natura Golden Caster Sugar is also perfect for the syrupy cherries since it's quick-dissolving (I also sprinkle it over strawberries - yum!). I bought a heap of cherries and plan on preserving them all - they're heavenly spooned over vanilla ice cream or inside these Black Forest Eclairs.
Now, while you decide for who or what you're going to make this showstopper, I'm going to go and be the dessert magician that I am and make this pavlova dissappear! ;)
Chocolate Mousse Pavlova with Cherries
4 egg whites
1 cup (250ml) Natura Golden Caster Sugar
1 tbsp cornflour
1 tsp white vinegar
1 tsp vanilla extract
50g dark chocolate, melted
140g good-quality dark chocolate, finely chopped
1 sheet gelatine
4 egg yolks
1 cup (250ml) Natura Golden Caster Sugar
1 cup water
200g fresh cherries, pitted
200ml cream, whipped, for serving
Fresh cherries and chocolate shavings, to decorate
Preheat the oven to 150 degrees celcius. Line 2 baking sheets with non-stick baking paper and draw 4 x 10-cm circles on the paper to use as a template guideline.
Place the egg whites in the bowl of an electric mixer and whisk until stiff peaks form, then gradually add in the caster sugar until completely dissolved. Whisk in the cornflour, vinegar and vanilla. Divide the meringue between the 4 circles and spread into a disc using a palette knife. Drizzle with the chocolate and swirl to create a marble effect. Place in the oven for 1 1/2 - 2 hours or until until crisp but still mallowy in the middle. (If you're not using a thermofam, place a wooden spoon in the oven door to keep it ajar - this will help to dry them out faster).
To make the mousse, heat 75ml of the cream and pour over the chopped chocolate. Allow to stand for a few minutes and then stir until melted and smooth. Set aside.
Whip the remaining cream and set aside.
Place the gelatine in a bowl of cold water to soften.
Whisk the egg yolks and sugar in a glass or metal bowl and place over a pot of gently simmering water. Add the softened gelatine and gently whisk until the egg yolk mixture is hot to the touch (about 60 degrees celcius). Remove from the heat and whisk vigorously (you can use an electric mixer) until light and thick but still lukewarm.
Fold the egg yolk mixture into the chocolate along with the whipped cream. Place in the fridge to set for 2-3 hours.
To make the syrupy cherries, place the sugar, water and cherries in a small saucepan and bring to a gentle simmer. Simmer for 20 minutes or until the cherries are softened. Allow to cool or pour into sterilized bottles and seal.
Assemble the pavlova by layering the meringue discs with spoonfuls of chocolate mousse, whipped cream and spoonfuls of cherries in syrup.
TIP: To make the golden cherries, mix 1 tsp edible gold dust (available to baking shops) with a few drops of vodka. Use a pastry brush to splatter or paint the cherries and allow the alcohol to evaporate completely until dry.
Disclaimer: This post has been sponsored by Natura Sugars who produce a range of really special sugars that are unrefined and made according to traditional Mauritian sugar-making techniques. The sugars are non-GM, non-irradiated and unbleached with no preservatives, colourants or syrups added which basically means they are pure, natural and packed with flavour!