This has been a long standing favorite in my house thanks to my lovely daughter who first unearthed the recipe from Nigella Lawson's great book Forever Summer. Pavlovas are traditionally summer desserts but I see no good reason to limit them. We usually top it with raspberries but strawberries are gorgeous right now so use whatever works for you.
If you've never made a meringue base before, don't be intimidated. It's dead easy and this particular treat is meant to be a bit rustic so no worries about cracks and imperfections. My crowd was banging on the table for dessert so I forgot to top with the chocolate shavings. I heard no complaints.
chocolate strawberry pavlova
adapted from Nigella Lawson's Forever Summer
6 eggs whites
1 c sugar
3 T cocoa powder, sifted
1 t balsamic vinegar
2 oz bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
pint of heavy cream
1 t rum
confectioner's sugar to taste
pint of strawberries, hulled and sliced
3 T bittersweet chocolate, shaved
Preheat oven to 350º
Beat the egg whites until peaks form and then beat in the sugar, one tablespoon at a time, until the meringue is stiff and shiny.
Add the cocoa, balsamic and chopped chocolate and ever so gently fold in.
Mound the mixture on a parchment or silpat lined baking sheet. Form a disk about 9" in diameter.
Turn down the oven to 300º and bake for about 1 hour. It's done when the it's a little crisp around the edges and dry on top.
While the pav is baking, whip the heavy cream, adding a little rum if you like and sweeten it to your taste. Keep chilled until you are ready to assemble.
When you are ready to serve, cover the completely cooled disk with whipped cream, arrange the sliced strawberries and shave some chocolate over the whole thing. Serve immediately.
Serves about 6