Chocolate Raspberry and Blackberry Pavlova

(Taken by Ian Linkletter)

Springtime in Vancouver is like a technicolour LSD freak-out kaleidoscope on hyperspeed; that simile might seem hyperbolic but I’m surrounded by cherry trees in perpetual bloom, magenta and tea rose pink lining the sky and the street all over Kitsilano. The grass is neon electrica green because of the constant rain and the tropical plants are opening into alien shapes both tiny and grandiose. My balcony drapes have been thrown open to meet the longer stretches of daylight and the smell of outdoors is headily sweet with growing things.

In short, this beautiful landscape has influenced my cooking and baking choices quite drastically (there’s something about stunning colour imagery everywhere that makes me crave bright fruits and vegetables.) The other weekend we were fortunate enough to have guests from Seattle up for a couple of days; one of the absolute best parts being that one of our guests, Kirsten, also enjoys being in the kitchen and listening to music while cooking and chatting. Together we made this unbelievably gorgeous chocolate pavlova with raspberries and blackberries and it truly was a team effort of beating the eggs and cream because I have no electric mixer, just a trusty whisk and arm power and the egg whites and sugar mixture can get quite heavy towards the end (not to mention adding in the sugar 1 Tbsp. at a time.) My mum has been making pavlovas for as long as I can remember, they’re so easy but immensely impressive. You can omit the chocolate aspect and just add a small amount of vanilla or vanilla sugar and there really is no limit as to what you can do with the fruit. I made another one this weekend (again with the help of a friend) and with the leftovers I made a sort of pavlova ice cream sundae by layering vanilla ice cream and smushed up (Eton mess style) pavlova and some more grated chocolate. This recipe is adapted from Nigella Lawson’s Forever Summer cookbook.

chocolate raspberry and blackberry pavlova:

6 egg whites, allow to come to room temperature before attempting this recipe

1 cup of white sugar

1/3 cup of cocoa powder, sifted

1 tsp. balsamic vinegar

3/4 of a 125g plain semi-sweet chocolate bar, reserve the rest of the chocolate for grating on top of the pavlova

2 cups of whipping cream, extra chilled

1 tsp. vanilla

2 Tbsp. white sugar

1/2 pint each of raspberries and blackberries, washed well and left to air dry

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Using either a sharp kitchen knife or mallet chop or bash the chocolate bar (except the reserved 1/4) into very small pieces. Set aside.

2. Using either sheer arm power and a whisk or an electric mixer, taking care that there is absolutely no trace of residual oils or fats on the bowl that you are using, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form.

3. Add the sugar to the beaten egg whites 1 Tbsp. at a time while continually whisking/beating until all of the sugar has been incorporated and the mixture has formed a thick marshmallowy consistency. Fold in the cocoa, vinegar and chocolate pieces.

4. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and spread the meringue into a circle using a spatula over top of the paper. Bake in the centre of the oven for 1 hour (check to see if it might need a few extra minutes at the end, it should look cracked and crisp on the outside.)

5. Allow the meringue to cool to room temperature. In the meantime, beat the cream, vanilla and sugar together until stiff peaks form. Spread the whipped cream over the meringue base. Arrange the berries in a haphazard sort of way on top of the pillowy cream and using a rasp grater dust the entire dessert with chocolate shavings. Serve on a cake stand or right off of the parchment with gin and tonics or vodka lemonades.

(Taken by Ian Linkletter)

I think that overall our weekend was musically copacetic, all of us suggested songs and contributions to the play list with ease and grace. In my mind The Brian Jonestown Massacre will forever be confused with The Dandy Warhols, swirly sort of stoner music that is both dramatic and derivative of psychedelia and shoegaze. I think this song is catchy, lush and layered (the lushness matching the heavy layers of greenery right outside.)

The Brian Jonestown Massacre – Prozac vs. Heroin

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