Chocolate Cherry Pavlova

Baked meringue provides a light and crispy bed for pillowy, almond-scented whipped cream, fresh cherries, and a shower of chocolate shavings.  A heavenly treat for summer!

Pavlova with almond cream, fresh cherries, and chocolate shavings.

That 16-hour plane ride to Sydney surely gives you a lot of time to build up expectations.  Thankfully, the trip did not disappoint – even in July (their winter). 

After I graduated from university, my family and I went way down under.  A trip to Australia!  How freakin' amazing is that?!?!?  I honestly didn’t know what to really except.  Would it be like cities in America or parts of Great Brittan but with a different accent?  Is it more tropical island-like with its many beaches and abundant wild life?  And why did we come during our summer – would it rain the entire time?  The trip was a decade ago this summer, so please forgive any lapses in my memory or ignorant generalisations. 

The best way I can describe the experience was that is was similar to going to a clean, modern, English-speaking country in Europe, where everything feels almost the same as home but then you turn the corner and see a peculiar food item or hear an unfamiliar phrase in an accent that is not your own.  Kind of like living in Vancouver and it feeling almost like any other major city in the US, until you spot the colourful Monopoly money or a bag of ketchup chips while hearing someone say "decal" instead of sticker, but pronouncing it de-kel instead of di-kal.  In fact, Vancouver reminds me of a mixture of Melbourne’s cosmopolitan city life and the scenic, waterfront of Sydney.  Both have similar climates, modern glass high-rises, and friendly locals, too!

Pavlova with almond cream, fresh cherries, and chocolate shavings.
Pavlova with almond cream, fresh cherries, and chocolate shavings.
Pavlova with almond cream, fresh cherries, and chocolate shavings.

I wish I could say that I saw a koala bear or a kangaroo in the wild, but most of our time was spent in the cites of Sydney and Melbourne.  Some of the highlights include: climbing the Sydney Harbour Bridge, taking a harbour boat tour, standing in awe in front of the opera house, attending a rugby match then running for the train after (as we learned that when the first train fills up, it may take forever until another arrives), hitting up the Lindt Chocolate Café, Bondi Beach (I snapped an awesome pic that was the desktop photo on my old computer for years!), the river walk in Melbourne, and more.  I know I didn’t even scratch the surface and mostly indulged in touristy things, but it was truly an amazing trip in a gorgeous country.  I’d go back any day – despite the longest plane ride ever (although I have to say that those Melona popsicle Kiwanis gives out mid-flight is a nice touch).

Food wise, I remember eating passion fruit EVERYTHING with reckless abandon.  Judging from this cake and these popsicles, you can probably tell that I have a thing for tangy passion fruit.  I recall going to a market for breakfast that was kind of like a fancy food court and ordering yogurt covered in fresh passion fruit pulp and my first ever flat whites daily.  

Pavlova with almond cream, fresh cherries, and chocolate shavings.

One of my favorite Aussie foods that I still enjoy baking today is the pavlova.  Some say it originated in New Zealand while other claim Australia.  All I know is that it is down right delicious.  The light and crisp meringue shell, sweetened whipped cream, and fresh, seasonal fruit – what is there not to love? When the cooler months have us craving more comforting treats laden with caramel sauce or decadent ganache, summer calls for something on the lighter side.  This recipe in particular calls for flecks of real vanilla bean, almond cream, fresh cherries, and a shower of chocolate shavings, but feel free to change up the flavor of the cream and use your favorite fruit.  There really is no reason why we shouldn’t be making these pillows of glory goodness all summer long!  Head on over to the West Elm Blog for the recipe.

Surely I am not giving Australian or its cuisine much justice.  How much can you really learn and appreciate about a culture in such a short amount of time?  Two of my favorite dessert bloggers just happen to hail from Australia.  I strongly urge you all to go check out Sarah’s The Sugar Hit blog and Thalia’s Butter and Brioche blog. And please forgive me ladies for not doing anything remotely “cool” while I was there.  Next time, will you please show me around? 

 

Pavlova with almond cream, fresh cherries, and chocolate shavings.