Make Ahead

Double Chocolate Pavlova-Gelato Cake

June  5, 2017
4 Ratings
Photo by Bobbi Lin
  • Makes 1 pavlova
Author Notes

It's important to add the cocoa powder right at the end, after the meringue has been whipped up, for the same scientific reason that you must make sure there is not a bit of yolk in your whites: the fat (in the cocoa powder or the yolks) will prevent the meringue from whipping up. For that same reason, a chocolate pavlova will never be as towering or a billowy as a "plain" (or one with no fat added) will be. For this dairy-free pavlova-gelato cake, I used several Talenti Gelatos, including Double Dark Chocolate, Hazelnut Chocolate Chip, and Fudge Brownie. —Cristina Sciarra

What You'll Need
  • 1 1/2 cups (300 grams) sugar, divided
  • 3/4 cup egg whites (about 6 large eggs), at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup (25 grams) cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon espresso powder (optional)
  • 1 pint dark chocolate gelato
  • 1 pint brownie gelato
  • 1 pint hazelnut chocolate chip gelato
  • Dark or milk chocolate chips or chunks, chocolate sprinkles, chocolate shavings, cocoa nibs, and/or chocolate drizzle, for garnish
  1. To make the pavlova, heat the oven to 225°F/110°C. Create a bain marie by bringing a few inches of water to a gentle boil in a medium-sized pot. Meanwhile, move the egg whites into a clean, metal mixing bowl. Set the bowl over the simmering water. Using an electric mixer on low speed, beat the whites for about 4 minutes, or until they begin to froth. In a slow stream, add 3/4 cup of sugar, the cream of tartar, and the cornstarch; increase the mixing speed to medium and continue beating until the egg whites are a bit stiff, 2 to 3 more minutes. Add the remaining 3/4 cup of sugar, again in a slow stream, and beat again, another 2 to 3 minutes. The meringue should be glossy, and stiff enough to form peaks.
  2. Sift together the cocoa powder with the salt; fold into the meringue. Make sure to incorporate the powder, but it needn't be completely monotone—some chocolate-y streaks will look nice.
  3. Cover a baking sheet with a piece of parchment paper. If you want an exactly round pavlova, trace a circle on the parchment paper, and then flip it over. Otherwise, spoon the meringue onto the paper, rustic-style. (Or, gently nudge the meringue into a rectangular shape, if you're going for a sheet cake-look.)
  4. Move the baking sheet to the oven for 1 hour, and then turn off the heat. Without opening the oven door, let the meringue rest for at least 1 more hour, or up to 12 hours.
  5. To make the cake, move the pavlova to a cake stand or serving dish. If the cake will be eaten immediately, scoop the gelato on top of the pavlova, add the toppings, and serve. However, if the cake won't be served right away, line a baking sheet with parchment paper; working quickly, form the gelato into scoops. When you have scooped all the gelato, move the baking sheet into the freezer. After 20 minutes, cover the gelato with plastic wrap, so that it won't dry out. The gelato can be "pre-frozen," up to 5 hours ahead.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Margaret McDowell
    Margaret McDowell
  • Gail Goggin
    Gail Goggin
  • Cristina Sciarra
    Cristina Sciarra
  • debbe booth
    debbe booth
Cristina is a writer, cook, and day job real estate developer. She studied literature, holds an MFA in Fiction Writing, and completed the Basic Cuisine course at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris. She lives in Jersey City with her husband--a Frenchman she met in Spain--and their sweet black cat, Minou. Follow her writings, recipes, publications and photography at

10 Reviews

debbe B. September 2, 2017
do you cook then entire time over the bain marie or do you take off simmering water at some point?
Margaret M. August 12, 2017
Any suggestions for doing this with a stand mixer, where the bowl is locked into a base? Is the bain marie absolutely necessary?
Margaret M. August 12, 2017
Any suggestions for doing this with a stand mixer, where the bowl is locked into a base? Is the bain marie absolutely necessary?
brontehealy August 5, 2017
Is the recommended gelato, like, tofulato? Not sure how gelato is dairy-free or should that have been sorbetto?
Gail G. August 6, 2017
The gelato is Talenti found in some grocery stores. Otherwise I would substitute a good chocolate ice cream
Cristina S. August 7, 2017
Hi brontehealy! There was recently a milkshake that used chocolate sorbetto and coconut milk, which was dairy free. This pavlova isn't, though, you could certainly use chocolate sorbet or sorbetto, or a dairy free chocolate ice cream, if you want to! Otherwise, I agree with Gail: it will taste good with anything chocolate, or any flavor that tastes good with chocolate!
AnnaChris June 26, 2017
I think there is a mistake in the instructions. The recipe calls for 3/4 cup of sugar, but the instructions only have you add a total of 6 tablespoons. Unfortunately, I didn't notice this until I had spread my pavlova on the baking sheet. I sprinkled a couple more tablespoons directly on top, but the batter definitely isn't sweet enough. I'm bummed!

Also, what are the dimensions for the circle you draw on the parchment or how wide should you spread the pavlova?
Cristina S. June 26, 2017
Hi AnnaChris,
I think some editing didn't get translated into the body of the recipe; I've asked for it to be fixed. The dimensions needn't be exact (you can use a dinner plate, if that's what you have on hand), but a 9-inch cake pan is a good bet.
marijke S. June 24, 2017
Can you make the pavlova a couple of weeks in advance and keep it in a dry environment?
Cristina S. June 26, 2017
I know meringues can hang out for a while, but I wouldn't recommend making this too far ahead: you want the center to still be soft and fudgy.