Espresso & Dark Chocolate Deconstructed Pavlova


I’ve discovered that coffee is as delicious served in a cup, as it is served in a cake! For some time now, I have been experimenting with coffee in my baking and I am loving the culinary qualities of coffee. It is also wonderfully versatile. With each recipe, I try out different brew methods, different roasts, different roasters and different origins. This means going on a culinary adventure with each new creation – and when coffee and baking are a duo, it’s certainly my idea of fun.

I grew up surrounded by baking lovers; both my mother and her mother (Ouma) derived much joy in conjuring up sweet delights for both family and friends. If my Ouma woke up during the night, she would think nothing of getting up and baking a cake. So, I guess I have her to blame for my breakfast cake eating fetish! One of my earliest memories of baking is of myself sitting on the kitchen counter contentedly stirring with a big wooden spoon (it’s interesting how everything seems so much bigger when you are smaller, eh?) and of my mother, standing next to me, wearing her apron.

Although my mother taught me to bake without fuss, I prefer to experiment. Of all the many things she has baked, she has yet to make a Pavlova. So, this Coffee and Dark Chocolate Pavlova with a creamy espresso sauce will be a special surprise treat just for her.

Both Australia and New Zealand claim to have invented the pavlova. (kind of like the flat white eh?!) The fluffy meringue is said to be named after the ballerina, Anna Pavlova. (My sojourn in the ballet classroom lasted all of one term, so I am no expert on matters ballet!)

You can either serve it as a traditional whole pavlova or as a deconstructed pavlova. My love of all things non-traditional means that I enjoy breaking the meringues (eating a few pieces as I go along, of course) and then serving it as a deconstructed pavlova. (For any busy, lazy, or non-bakers out there, you can, of course, buy a ready-made meringue and just do a bit of deconstruction on the side. You will be missing out on the fun of making it yourself as well as a sense of satisfaction, but your secret will be safe with me)

My choice of coffee for this recipe was a medium to dark roast Ethiopian and Guatemalan blend. I love how the Guatemalan brings its hazelnut, dark chocolate and praline flavours to this recipe. Ethiopian coffees are notably diverse – from citrus, often bergamot, and floras through to candied fruit, or even tropical fruit flavours.

Espresso & Dark Chocolate Deconstructed Pavlova

Serves: 4-6

Meringue ingredients:

2 tbsp ground coffee
2 tbsp near- boiling water
3 egg whites
2.5ml/ 1/2 tsp cream of tartar
175g/6 oz/ 1 cup castor (superfine) sugar
1tsp cornflour (cornstarch) sifted
baking parchment
1 handful of dark chocolate nibs

For the creamy espresso sauce:
1 shot of espresso* (read my choice of coffee above)
250 ml cream

For the topping:
250g fresh strawberries
70% Dark chocolate pieces

Meringue method:
1. Preheat your oven to 140 C / 275 F. Draw a 20cm/ 8in circle on your baking parchment. Place pencil-side down on a baking sheet

2. Place the ground coffee in a small bowl and pour hot water over. Leave to infuse for 5 minutes, then strain the liquid through a very fine sieve.

3. Whisk the egg whites with the cream of tartar until stiff, but not dry. Gradually whisk in the sugar until the meringue is stiff and shiny, then quickly whisk in the cornflour, coffee and chocolate pieces.

4. Using a long knife or spatula, spoon the meringue mixture on to a baking sheet placed on a baking tray, spreading to an even 20cm / 8in circle. Make a slight hollow in the middle if you wish to decorate as a traditional pavlova. Bake in oven for 1 hour, then turn off the heat and leave in the oven to cool.

*Leaving meringue in the oven to cool is an imperative step. A sudden change in temperature will make it crack.*

5. Transfer the meringue to a plate, peeling off the lining.

Topping instructions
Whip the cream, leaving 100 ml aside.

2. Combine and mix the espresso shot with the remaining 100ml of cream.

3. Cut strawberries into slices.

4. Break meringue into sections. Place meringue in a glass and top with whipped cream, strawberries, dark chocolate pieces and finally pour your espresso cream sauce over.