Chocolate Pavlova with Amaretto Cherry Compote & Cocoa Nibs
Hello, again! Katie from Butterlust here, back to share another decadent dessert + wine pairing with you all. ‘Tis the season for merrymaking, and I love nothing more than to celebrate the holidays with good friends and great wine. And since this time of year sweets tend to be front and center, today I’m sharing a beautiful but simple pavlova recipe. It’s lofty whipped cream peaks and festive cherry-red color are sure to be a stand-out on your holiday table, without being overly demanding in the kitchen.
This Chocolate Pavlova with Amaretto Cherry Compote & Cocoa Nibs is no ordinary pavlova. A traditional pavlova is made with plain meringue so that it has a pure white color and airy, crisp texture. It’s almost weightless, lending itself to summertime meals and white wine pairings. In fact, one rule of meringue making is to avoid adding any fat to the mix to ensure a light, crisp result. But in the case of today’s recipe, we’re breaking rules in order to add a wintery twist to this classic. (Fun, right?)
You see, cocoa powder contains trace amounts of fat. When added to meringue, the result is a light, airy exterior with a chewy, indulgent interior. It doesn’t possess the same crispness or hold its shape as well as a traditional meringue, but makes up for the lack of shape in rich, chocolate flavor and a slightly gooey, marshmallow-like center. In fact, the flavor is similar to that of a high-quality hot chocolate -- cozy and indulgent, it’s a lovely match for the heartier flavors of the season.
Just before serving, the pavlova is topped with fresh, unaltered whipped cream and amaretto cherry compote. Whole cherries and amaretto are cooked down until thick and syrupy, creating a ruby compote with deep cherry flavor, notes of almond and a slight twang of acidity to balance out the richness of the cream and cocoa. To finish things off, fresh cherries and cocoa nibs are added for garnish. The result is a beautiful mingling of textures and flavors -- airy, chewy, creamy, sweet and bitter -- that can only be improved upon by pairing with a delicious glass of red wine.
For this year’s Christmas dessert, I’m pairing this pavlova with Kendall-Jackson Jackson Estate Anderson Valley Pinot Noir. This medium-bodied wine balances beautifully with the light meringue, ensuring that neither overpowers the other, and it’s cherry and berry notes play perfectly with the cherry compote. Bright acidity keeps things from feeling too rich, while providing a lovely contrast to the earthy, bitterness from both the cocoa powder and nibs. Enjoy and Happy Holidays!