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
1 1/2 cups
(300 grams) sugar, divided
egg whites (about 6 large eggs), at room temperature
cream of tartar
(25 grams) cocoa powder
espresso powder (optional)
dark chocolate gelato
hazelnut chocolate chip gelato
Dark or milk chocolate chips or chunks, chocolate sprinkles, chocolate shavings, cocoa nibs, and/or chocolate drizzle, for garnish
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.
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.
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.)
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.
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.
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 theroamingkitchen.com.