This Black Forest Pavlova combines soft billowy meringue, topped with chocolate whipped cream, juicy fresh cherries, and a sweet Kirsh cherry sauce. This indulgent, show-stopping dessert will become a firm favourite on your dessert table.
Pavlova has always been a popular dessert in our house. Having lived for 15 years in Sydney, Australia I soon cottoned on that Pavlova is a national treasure! On par with Lamingtons, you’ll find a pavlova at any and every celebratory occasion in Australia. It's light and airy making it perfect for that Australian heat.
But the combination of meringue, cream, and fruit isn't just for the Summer. My Christmas Pavlova Wreath is a perfect recipe for the Holiday Season- make sure to check it out.
My recipe today shares exactly how to make this incredible meringue with a crisp exterior and marshmallowy interior. The heavenly pairing of chocolate cream and fresh cherries is united by a delish sweet cherry, Kirsch spiked syrup. The result of all these components makes a Black Forest Gateau inspire pavlova of dreams!
❓ What is Pavlova?
Originating in the 1920's, Pavlova is a meringue dessert named after a famous ballerina, Anna Pavlova, who was touring Australia at the time. The meringue replicated the soft white layers of Anna's tutu! How lovely is that?!
Pavlova is made up predominantly of egg whites and sugar. Once whisked until thick and glossy, the egg whites are baked in a low-temperature oven for an extended time.
The result is a meringue with a crisp, white shell on the outside. The interior is soft and marshmallowy or chewy, depending on the length of time it's baked for. It's sweet and has a divine melt-in-your-mouth texture.
A Pavlova is usually topped with whipped cream and fresh fruit and often drizzled in a coulis or curd. It's light, sweet and absolutely delicious. Every year, at home, we have a version of it as our Christmas Day dessert - perfect after a big meal!
🌟 Why You'll Love This Recipe
- The ultimate showstopper. There's no denying it - this will look stunning on your dessert table. It's perfect for Christmas, Thanksgiving, birthdays, or any celebration really!
- Simple ingredients. You'll only need 4 basic ingredients to make the meringue and 6 for the chocolate cream and cherry sauce. That's not a lot for such a beautiful black cherry and chocolate pavlova!
- Tastes incredible. I mean, where do I start? Chocolate and cherries are a match made in heaven. Add them on top of beautiful crisp sweet meringue and the combination is insane!
🧾 Ingredients Needed
Whilst the actual list of ingredients for each component isn't long. I've made some important notes below that are worth a read.
- Egg Whites - I've used large eggs for the whites. A little tip - it's easier to separate the egg whites from the yolks when the eggs are cold. However, the egg whites must be at room temperature when making the meringue.
- Sugar - Superfine or caster sugar is best to use as it dissolves into egg whites quicker than regular sugar. Make your own by blitzing granulated sugar in a food processor. Just don't take it too far and turn it into icing sugar!
- Lemon Juice or White White Vinegar - You can use either when making a meringue. The egg whites just need an acidic component to help stabilize the meringue whilst baking.
- Cornstarch - The cornstarch (cornflour) also helps to bind and stabilize the liquid in the egg whites and helps prevent the liquid from seeping out.
Chocolate Cream and Cherry Sauce
- Dark chocolate- I use dark 70% chocolate for that rich flavour with a hint of bitter notes.
- Cream - use a double cream / heavy cream rather than whipping cream. When whipped it is more stable due to its high fat content and will hold its shape better piled up on top of the pavlova.
- Cherries - In the cherry sauce I use fresh cherries but you can use canned cherries or frozen cherries instead. I make a note below on how to use them as an alternative. I get it, fresh cherries can be expensive - so go with the canned option if you prefer.
- Kirsch -This cherry liquor is an optional ingredient that I add to the sauce to bring a more traditional Black Forest Flavour to the pavlova dessert. If serving the dessert to kids you may not want to include it.
- Chocolate pavlova - increase the chocolate flavour by folding ¼ cup cocoa powder into the meringue mixture before scooping it onto the baking tray.
- Top with chocolate curls - go extra on the decoration and make some beautiful chocolate shavings.
- Mini Pavlova Nests - Don't fancy creating one large pavlova? No problem, spoon the meringue into mini meringue nests and top with cream, cherries, and syrup as individual desserts. Take inspiration from my Mini Cranberry Nests.
👩🏻🍳 How to Make
I've included lots of process shots so that you can see how to create the meringue and shape it into a meringue wreath.
Meringue can be fairly particular to make, so it's important to follow each of my steps. Once you have the know-how, you'll realize that it's actually very straightforward. Let's dive right in.
*Be sure to see the recipe card below for the full ingredients list & instructions!*
Make the Meringue
STEP 1: Prep the oven and trays. Preheat the oven to 140C (280F). When the meringue goes into the oven, the temperature is turned down immediately, and the meringue is baked for a long time.
The long bake time on low heat allows the exterior to set whilst still maintaining its white colour, and the whipped egg inside slowly cooks through to produce its marshmallowy texture. Low and slow is definitely best!
Prep a baking tray. Line the tray with parchment paper, then draw a circle on the paper approx 30cm (12-in) in diameter (Image 1). Use a bowl as a guide to trace around. Turn over the parchment paper.
TIP: Ensure your equipment is clean and dry
Your stand mixer bowl and whisk must be clean, grease-free and totally dry before whipping the egg whites. Any moisture or grease will inhibit the egg white's ability to aerate to the required volume.
STEP 2: Whisk the egg whites to a soft peak. This is the first step in making the meringue. Add the whites into a stand mixer bowl fitted with the whisk attachment, and whisk on medium-low speed until soft peaks form (Image 2).
You'll know when this happens because the egg whites will gradually turn white and start to look foamy and aerated.
STEP 3. Add the sugar gradually. Set aside ¼ cup sugar to be used in the syrup later on. Turn the mixer to low and then add 1 tablespoon of sugar at a time into the mixing bowl whipping well for approximately ten seconds before the next addition (Image 3).
Take your time over this part; it can take a good couple of minutes until all the sugar is added. Scrape down the sides of the bowl periodically, as the sugar granules can stick around the sides of the bowl. Once all the sugar is added, turn the beaters to high and whip for a further 5 minutes.
STEP 4. Add in lemon juice and cornflour and whip until glossy.
Add the lemon juice (or white vinegar) and the cornflour, then continue to whip for a further 5 minutes. The meringue should not be grainy and should be thick and shiny and hold its shape when ready (Images 4 & 5).
STEP 5: Spoon meringue onto the tray and bake. Stop the baking paper from slipping and dollop a bit of meringue under the four corners of the paper and stick it down (Image 6).
Using a spoon, dollop meringue into the ring drawn onto the parchment paper. Use an offset spatula or the back of the spoon to shape the meringue and to create an indentation in the centre (Image 7). This holds the cream later on.
Bake. Place the tray into the oven and turn down the temperature to 110C (230F) and bake the meringue for 2 hours. Once the hour is up, turn off the oven but leave the meringues inside, leaving the door closed to cool completely. DO NOT OPEN IT!!
At 2 hours, the meringue is crisp on the outside and marshmallowy on the inside. If you prefer it to be chewy on the inside, continue to bake for an extra 45-60 minutes at the same temperature.
Make the Cherry Sauce
STEP 6: Make the cherry syrup whilst the meringue is baking. This gives it a chance to cool.
Place sugar and water into a small saucepan and heat on low until sugar dissolves. Bring to a boil and add halved cherries and kirsch (Image 8), if included, then reduce to low heat, and simmer for 5 minutes or until cherries are tender. If not adding kirsch then substitute liqueur with water.
Mash the cherries into the sugar water with a fork until fully squished (!). Then, over a medium bowl, sieve the cherry syrup, save the syrup, and discard the pulp. Set syrup aside to cool (Image 9).
Make the Chocolate Whipped Cream
STEP 7. Make the chocolate whipped cream. Add the cream to a bowl and whip until soft peaks (Image 10). Add cocoa powder and fold through (Image 11).
Assemble the Pavlova
STEP 8. Pour over the chocolate. Melt the dark chocolate in the microwave in 20-second increments stirring between each burst until melted. Wait to cool a bit and spoon on top of the meringue.
Gently brush it over the top and let cool fully. This creates a barrier between the meringue and the cream and keeps the meringue crisp.
STEP 9. Layer cream, cherries, and syrup. Dollop chocolate cream on top of the pavlova and decorate with fresh cherries (Images 13 & 14). When ready to serve pour over the cherry syrup (Image 15).
And that's it. You've made yourself the most beautiful Black Forest Pavlova. When you slice into it the pavlova is likely to collapse into the middle under the weight of the cream and cherries but that's all part of the charm! Spoon it into bowls and tuck into it!
💭 Recipe Pro Tips
- Ensure your bowl is clean and dry before whipping your egg whites. Any residual moisture or grease will prevent your egg whites from whipping.
- Ensure all the caster sugar has been incorporated and the egg mixture has no grit when rubbing some between your fingers.
- Turn your oven down to recommended temp the minute the meringue goes in the oven. Low and slow is key to keeping the meringue pure white and crisp.
- Don’t open the oven door as any moisture in the air can soften the meringue's crisp shell.
- Leave the meringue in the oven until it has completely cooled (minimum 2 hours cooling time, but better to leave it for 4 hours)
📋 Recipe FAQs
As it takes such a long time to cook and cool, yes, it's best to make the meringue the day before. Or you can cook it in the evening and let the meringue cool overnight in the oven.
I wouldn't assemble the Pavlova the day before, though, as the meringue will turn soggy.
Don't worry - the whipped cream will solve that problem! If the cracks can't be covered up, turn it into an Eton Mess. Break up the meringue, divide it into individual glasses, and top it with cream, pitted cherries, and sauce, then repeat the layers. The flavour is identical, and you've made perfect individual portions!
No not all all. You can use canned/tin cherries or frozen. If using canned cherries then reserve the juice and use it in place of the water.
When using the frozen cherries there's no need to defrost first.
My Caramel Pie, Sable Breton Tart, and Chocolate Gelato recipes are all great ways to use up left over egg yolks. You can store left over egg yolks in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days. If the yolks are still intact then cover them with a little water to stop them drying out.
❄️ Storage and Freezer Instructions
To store: Meringue is best stored 'undressed'. Once cooled completely, gently place the meringue into an airtight container and store it at room temperature for up to 5 days. Do not refrigerate it. The whipped cream and cherry syrup can be refrigerated in separate airtight containers for up to four days.
To freeze: Meringue can be frozen but not the Black Forest Pavlova fully assembled. Freeze meringue on the baking tray, and then once hard, store in a freezer-safe container or zip lock bag for up to 3 months. Thaw at room temperature, ensuring it does not come into contact with any moisture.
More Amazing Dessert Recipes
If you tried this Black Forest Pavlova Recipe or any other recipe on my website, please please leave a 🌟 star rating and let me know how you go in the 📝 comments below. I love hearing from you!
Black Forest Pavlova Recipe
- 6 large eggs whites
- 300 g caster sugar (superfine)
- 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice , or white vinegar
- 1 teaspoon cornflour (corn starch)
- 225 g fresh cherries, pitted and halved (or frozen)
- 60 g caster sugar (superfine)
- 60 ml water
- 2 tablespoon Kirsch liquor, optional
- 300 ml double cream (heavy cream)
- 2 tablespoon cocoa powder
- 100 g dark chocolate 70%
- 225 g fresh cherries
- chocolate shavings, optional
- Heat your oven to 140°C (284°F). Line a baking tray with parchment paper and trace a circle approximately 20cm (8-inches) in diameter. (This circle should be smaller than the plate or cake stand that you are serving your pavlova on.) Turn the parchment paper over so that the pen/pencil line is underneath.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip your egg whites until soft peaks form (about 3 mins).
- Whilst whisking, add the caster sugar one spoonful at a time. (In between each spoon, whisk for 15 seconds before adding the next spoonful). Once all the sugar is added, continue whisking for 5 more minutes.
- Then add the lemon juice or white vinegar and corn flour whisk for another 5 minutes. By now, the egg white mixture should be thick and glossy, and the sugar should be fully incorporated. If you rub a bit of mixture between your thumb and finger, there should be no grit as the sugar has fully blended if there is, then continuing whipping for a couple more minutes.
- Scoop the meringue mixture onto your lined baking tray into the circle that you have drawn. Then spread out the meringue with a back of a spoon or spatular to create a large meringue nest with soft peaks rising all around.
- Place the baking tray in the centre of the oven and immediately reduce the oven temperature to 110°C (230°F) and bake for 2 ½ hours. Then turn the oven off and leave it in the oven for a minimum of 2 hours (preferably overnight), to cool completely.
- For the cherry syrup, place sugar and water into a small saucepan and place on a medium to high heat until sugar dissolves. Bring to the boil and add halved cherries (and kirsch if including), bring back to the boil, then reduce to low heat, and simmer for 5 minutes or until cherries are tender. With a fork, mash the cherries into the sugar water until fully squished (!). Then, over a medium bowl, sieve the cherry syrup, save the syrup, and discard the pulp. Set syrup aside.
- Melt dark chocolate in a small bowl, in a microwave in 20-second increments, stirring between each burst, until fully melted. Whip the cream in a medium-size bowl until light and fluffy. Pour the chocolate into the cream slowly and fold into the cream, giving the chocolate a rippled effect.
- To decorate the pavlova, spoon the chocolate cream onto the meringue, drizzle the cherry syrup over the cream and top with the fresh cherries. Now sprinkle with shaved chocolate, cut a slice and enjoy!
All recipes are developed and tested in Metric grams. I strongly recommend that you bake using digital scales for a more accurate result. I have provided a conversion to US customary in the recipe but please note that I haven’t tested using this method.
The original post from July 2019 has since been updated with new content and images.