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Pavlova: The Black Swan edition

  • 1/5
    Pavlova with chocolate meringue
  • 2/5
    Cornstarch, vinegar, egg whites, powdered sugar and cacao
  • 3/5
    Draw a 10-inch circle on parchment paper.
  • 4/5
    Spread the egg whites on parchment paper, filling out the pencil circle.
  • 5/5
    Heavy cream, blueberries and blackberries

Text, photos and food cooked by Michal Martinek

Feb 11, 2015

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The story of how this dessert came to be is now famous: Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova was on a tour through New Zealand and Australia. To honor her, someone got the idea to take a meringue, layer it with whipped cream (perhaps reminiscent of a tutu), and top with passionfruit and strawberries. The legend is unconfirmed, and the two countries are still fighting over it. Either way, it looks impressive and is utterly delicious, with a crunchy and airy texture.

In this version, I am using cacao for a Black Swan effect. Feel free to skip this step and use only the sugar to keep the meringue white. 


  1. Serves 4–6
  2. 4 egg whites, at room temperature
  3. 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  4. 2 teaspoons vinegar
  5. 2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
  6. ½ cup cacao, sifted
  7. ¾ cup heavy cream
  8. 1 cup fresh berries, such as blackberries or blueberries


Preheat the oven to 200 degrees. Using a plate or a bowl, draw a 10-inch circle on parchment paper. Flip the paper over and place it on a baking sheet lightly sprayed with oil.


Using an electric mixer, beat the egg whites until foamy, about 1 minute. Add the cornstarch and vinegar and beat into the egg whites. Combine the sugar with the cacao and add in thirds, incorporating each addition well until no sugar is visible. Beat until stiff and glossy, about 4 minutes.


Spread the egg whites on the parchment paper, filling out the pencil circle. Thin out the center with a spatula, pushing the mixture to the sides and creating a little nest. Bake in the oven for 1 hour and 45 minutes. Don’t be tempted to open the oven during baking. Reduce the temperature if the meringue starts taking on a color. After the meringue is finished, turn off the oven and let it cool completely in the oven.


Carefully peel the meringue from the parchment paper, and place it on a serving plate. Whip the heavy cream with the granulated sugar until soft peaks form. Spoon the whipped cream into the center of the meringue and top with the berries.


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