A Tribute To Australia Day: Black Forest Pavlova With Espresso Cream

Recipe, photography and styling by Tanya Zouev.

This weekend is Australia Day long-weekend. It’s been a weekend of celebrating with the quintessential Aussie barbie (BBQ), wearing the Australian flag printed on one’s t-shirt or bikini, screaming out “Aussie Aussie Aussie oi oi oi” (unfortunately) and eating lamingtons (very fortunately). For some however it’s eating pavlova, and I’ve seen a fair few of them proudly shown off on Facebook and the usual social media sites this weekend.

Now I know there’s some debate (actually, a lot of debate) around the exact origin of the pav, I’ve even discussed this in a recent post. Yes I know it hails originally from New Zealand but for many it is still a major part of Australia Day celebrations. Since we don’t actually have very many dishes we can call upon as being authentically Australian cuisine, it’s understandable why.

During the few days leading up to Australia Day I was having some thoughts as to what makes up authentic Australian food, and there actually isn’t much. We have beautiful indigenous Australian bush foods but they’re really more ingredients rather than actual dishes. Just about everything other than “bush tucker” as it’s colloquially known, including a large percentage of our population is from someplace else. This I very much believe to be one of the many things which makes Australia so incredible. Our multiculturalism, and in turn our food.

For example, may parents were migrants who came to this country in the late 1950’s (I am a first generation Australian). I grew up eating a lot of Eastern European and Chinese food as well as many Anglo-Saxon favourites. I loved piroshki as much as a finger bun (for overseas readers this is a soft wheat flour bun with icing on it), yum cha as much as a meat pie with sauce. My Polish-Russian father enjoyed Vegemite sandwiches, my Chinese-born Russian mother loved (and still loves) a passionfruit and cream-filled sponge.

So in honour of Australia Day and multiculturism I created this Pavlova. I hope you enjoy her. She’s an adaptation of an Aussie/Kiwi classic merged with European flavours, and she’s a bit like this country: big, beautiful, diverse in flavour, and she speaks with a slight accent. That’s what makes her so special.

Prep time 1 hour, cooking time approximately 2 hours.


For the meringue

8 egg whites
2 cups granulated raw sugar
2 tablespoons dutch cocoa powder
1 teaspoon vanilla essence

For the topping

2 cups thickened (whipping) cream
2 tablespoons strong espresso coffee
a 680 gram (24 ounce) jar of morello cherries
½ cup chopped walnuts
½ cup dark chocolate curls *
½ cup dark chocolate shavings **

* To make chocolate curls run a potato peeler down the edge of a block of chocolate. ** To make chocolate shavings use an ordinary fine grater or a Micro-Plane.


1. Preheat oven to 220ºC (approx 420˚F). Place a sheet of baking paper on two large baking tray and draw 20cm (8″) rounds.

2. Separate your eggs making utmost care not to contaminate the egg whites with any egg yolk. Any fat in the egg whites will prevent them from beating properly and will weigh them down.

3. Beat your egg whites until they are stiff and add your sugar slowly along with the vanilla essence, one tablespoon at a time and beat until stiff peaks form. Turn your bowl upside down to make sure the whites are stiff enough. If not, beat another minute or so then check again.

4. Sift the cocoa powder into the raw meringue and fold through carefully ensuring you leave streaks of cocoa rather than fully incorporating it.

5. Shape the meringue into the two rounds on the baking paper/trays. Place meringues into oven and immediately turn temperature down to 120 degrees celcius. Bake for 90 minutes then turn off oven, do not remove meringues until oven is cool.


1. Drain the morello cherries into a colander with a bowl underneath it to catch the syrup. Give the cherries a shake to make sure the syrup drains out of them. You will want the cherries quite dry so give them a bit of time to drain.

2. Pour the cherry syrup into a saucepan and over medium heat reduce it down to a honey-like consistency (about 5-10 minutes). If you over-reduce you can add a little bit of water and whisk through to make it more liquid again. Set aside.

3. Beat the cream with the coffee until stiff peaks form. With a silicone spatula spread half of the cream over the bottom meringue, place cherries on the cream along with half of the chopped walnuts. Sprinkle half of the chocolate shavings over the meringue.

4. Place the top meringue layer over the bottom. Spread the remaining cream over it along with the cherries, nuts and chocolate shavings. Top  with the chocolate curls. Drizzle the cherry syrup over the entire pavlova.


Photography & styling notes:

I wanted this grand lady to shine so I chose to have a fairly simple background. I used a vintage milk glass cake stand purchased at the Salvo’s, and the vintage doily and the antique silverware jug in the background which were purchased for a few dollars at Vinnie’s. The surface is a rescued old weathered timber coffee table-top pulled out of a council hard rubbish clean-up. The only light used in this image is window light.



80 thoughts on “A Tribute To Australia Day: Black Forest Pavlova With Espresso Cream”

    1. Thanks for your feedback Tessa and for stopping by my blog. Happy cooking!


  1. Wow! What beautiful photography? What equipment do you use?

    1. Hi Casey,

      Thanks for your feedback. I’m very minimalist when it comes to equipment these days. After twenty years of professional shooting I’ve been through countless analog and digital cameras and these days I shoot on a Canon 5d Mark 3 with a 100mm f2.8 and 28-70 f2.8 lenses. I have a back up body, a very small lighting kit which I barely use preferring daylight. I travel light.


  2. This is the sort of dessert people just don’t make anymore, at least not in the states. Thank you for the insane temptation and visual delight! I’m definitely adding this to the list of my must-makes!

    1. Hi Rachael,

      Thanks for stopping by my blog and for your kind words. I thought the best most over the top cakes came from the USA, Martha is always coming up with wild creations. It’s not common here either for big desserts except for weddings and special occasions. I love a bit of fantasy and extravagance so I’m all for whipping up this sort of thing, providing it doesn’t involve too much detailed cake decorating (the messier the better in my books). Happy cooking and be sure to stop by again.


    1. Hi Reem, happy to have you here! Thanks for your wonderful feedback and come visit again. I’m posting at least once a week at the moment so there’ll be lots of food love to share. Regards Tanya

    1. Thank you Emma, I’m very happy to have you stop by my blog and that you are enjoying it. I’d love to have you visit again. Regards Tanya

  3. This dessert looks absolutely mouthwatering! I think I will try it for our next gathering. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Hi Samantha, thanks for your feedback and for stopping by my blog. It’s a pretty tasty pav, I hope you enjoy it! Regards Tanya

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  5. STUNNING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  6. In the recipe, you haven’t included the vanilla essence.

    1. Hi Danai, thanks for pointing this out. I have amended the recipe. Regards, Tanya

  7. Should this dessert be served cold?

    1. Hi Juli, as with all pavlova it can be eaten straight after you make it. Just make sure your cream is chilled. This particular pavlova is really good the next day too. Of course it’s not as pretty but tastes amazing. Regards, Tanya

  8. Thanks for the Pavlova. I lived in Australia for 3 and a half glorious years. I loved the celebrations. I think I might make the Pavlova for the fourth of July. I’ve only been gluten-free since October and am surprised by the wonderful results.

  9. This a looks so incredible! I tried to make this yesterday with a friend and the meringue tops crumbled and separated from the insides when we tried to transfer them to the cake stand. We attempted to hide it with cream and chocolate, but it still looked quite laughable. It tasted amazing in the end, though!

    1. Hi Amanda, the main thing is you gave it a go. Meringues can be tricky to get right as it depends on how well you beat the egg whites, on your oven, whether you let them dry out enough. I’m pleased it tasted fabulous in the end and you enjoyed it. Best regards, Tanya

  10. SO GORGEOUS. i love that you added styling comments to the bottom of this post. food styling has become one of my favorite things to explore. this post inspires me to make a pavlova pumpkin spice latte flavor, too.

    1. That is a phenomenal idea for a pavlova reinvention. If you end up doing it be sure to let me know, I’d love to see it. So pleased you like my blog, thanks for visiting and making a comment. Best regards, Tanya

  11. This looks awesome and will definitely try.

    Essentially, this is not a Pavlova but a Meringue. The essential ingredient to a Pavlova is the Corn Flour, which results in the pavlova having a crisp and crunchy outer shell, and a soft, moist marshmallow-like centre, unlike meringue which is usually solid throughout.
    Also, eggs MUST be at room temperature.

    1. Hi John, with all due respect a pavlova is a large meringue with cream and fruit. My mother has been making meringue and pavlova for about forty years and she has never used either cream of tartare, cornflour or vinegar in her recipe and it turns out with a crispy shell and marshmallowy centre every time. As I’ve said many times when it comes to cooking, there are many ways to skin a cat. Best regards, Tanya

  12. Tanya… this is the MOST delightful looking pavlova I’ve ever seen and I can’t wait to finally try making one! It’s been on my list of things to do for some time. Just a few questions… if I am making this for a gathering could I bake the meringues ahead and store them in a sealed container for a day or 2 ? and , how crumbly or soft is the pavlova when it gets cut ( don’t want to serve something that gets too messy for this occasion!)
    Thanks for posting such a lovely family recipe!

    1. Hi Kim, so pleased you like the photograph and recipe. I tend to make my meringues no more than a day in advance as they do tend to soften and want you want is a crunchy outside and marshmallow texture inside. It does get pretty crumbly, as most pavlova’s do, but not so much that it will make a huge mess. You could try making the meringues larger and thinner so the cake isn’t so high, therefore eliminating some of the crumbling. Regards, Tanya

  13. I made this for friends last night. Fantastic! Here’s my advice: Make this in the morning! You will not have access to your oven for most of the day. Also, I don’t advise if you’re also making dinner. This was fun to make, but a bit labor intensive. I had friends over for just dessert. With this one, just dessert was plenty. Thanks for a great recipe!

  14. One, more thing, I wasn’t able to get the cherry juice to thicken, so I ended up sprinkling a tiny bit of cornstarch while it was on the stove. (maybe 1/2 teaspoon?)

  15. Just made this for Thanksgiving. Mine wasn’t nearly as beautiful as yours (still getting the hang of meringues) but it was delicious and a HUGE hit. Thanks for a great recipe!

  16. I will definitely make this for Christmas. Absolutely stunning picture! I love the props!

  17. I will definitely make this for Christmas. Absolutely stunning picture! I love the props!

  18. This looks incredible Tanya – so much so that I am going to make it for our Christmas dessert. I assume raw caster sugar will be ok for the meringue? It’s what I have already and I am too scared to visit the shops on Christmas Eve ;-)

    1. Hi Renee, raw caster sugar will be fine. It’s what I used for this recipe as I wanted the meringue slightly brown. Best regards and Merry Christmas, Tanya

  19. Thanks Tanya – Merry Christmas!

  20. When you drop the temp is that in ferinheight?

    1. Hi Linda, no it is for celsius which is 248 degrees fahrenheit. Best regards, Tanya

  21. How do you cut and serve this? Pretty crunchy, I would think. Looks delish tho.

    1. Hi LeAnn, you cut it very carefully but don’t expect perfect slices. It’s so delicious that nobody cares so enjoy. Regards, Tanya

  22. Hey Tan – Finally made this today! Delish – it was a hit, and easy too, but mine was still very soft on bottom and middle and lots of it collapsed! It was ok but sure didnt end up looking like yours! Not enough time to cool down I suspect?

    1. Hi Jared, you need a slightly longer cooking time then to dry it out more, and leave in the oven overnight. All ovens are different so try giving the meringues another 20 mins and don’t open the oven door until completely cold. Tanya

  23. This looks fantastic! I was hoping to make something like this, but to serve 15-20 people. How many servings did this make?

    1. Hi Alann, you’ll probably get 8 slices out of this, albeit large ones. You’ll need to make two to serve that many people. Regards, Tanya

  24. is it granulated sugar or castor sugar ? Thanks for sharing

    1. Hi Lalla, I used castor sugar but I also use granulated and don’t notice much difference, especially with the plain vanilla meringues. Regards, Tanya

  25. I just want to confirm that it is not a ring, empty in the middle, instead is a full circle full of meringue, right? and also after lowering the oven temp. one hour, turn it off and leave it there until it cools down. Is this correct? Thank you

    1. Hi Paty,

      It is a complete circle, not a ring. Once I turn off oven, I leave meringues in overnight to cool.


  26. Can’t wait to make this for my birthday! Growing up I always chose black forest cake for my birthday cake and since we have gone Paleo I have been looking for treats for my family that weren’t really “alternatives”, because they are usually disappointing and nobody wants to have to think “hey, this tastes almost like ___!” when they bite into something. This looks amazingly decadent and not at all an “alternative” treat! I LOVE Pavlova and have made it before, and it’s what I had in mind for myself this year. Counting the months! :)

  27. You didn’t state what measurements we should use for scooping out the meringue mix and baking it. How many grams should each meringue be????

    1. Hi Aisha, I don’t make recommendations for grams, just split the meringue mixture in half. I measure by sight. Regards, Tanya

  28. This was so much fun to make especially catering to some gluten free and grain free friends. I was also happy to have used a darker chocolate (72% cocoa) for the topping at the meringue is quite sweet. I also was surprised at how quickly the cocoa mixed in the the meringue mixture. next time I would barely touch it before putting it onto the parchment paper in order to maintain the swirls.

    Thanks for a fun recipe!

  29. This is a gorgeous looking dessert, and I am eager to make it later this week for a dinner party. Would it be okay to make the meringue portions the day ahead, as well as prepping the cherry topping, whipped cream, and chocolate shavings the day before and then assemble everything right before leaving for the dinner? I assume as long as I am careful and leave the baked portions in the oven/airtight container it would be okay to leave the assembly for a last minute step right before serving.

    1. Hi Katy, apologies for the delayed response, your message was in the spam folder. I make the meringues the night before and keep the oven door closed. I never whip cream the day before however as I find it loses some of it’s body. Try whipping cream in the morning instead. Yes you can assemble at the last minute. Regards Tanya

  30. Hi Tanya,
    it is a beautiful photo, however on my first attempt to make this (for dad’s 93rd birthday) the mixture, on cooking, just flattened out into an unusable mess. I think the granulated sugar was way too heavy and there’s just too much mixture to handle successfully.
    The recipe I usually use (same quantities) has a teaspoon of vinegar so on making the meringue the second time I added the vinegar, used castor raw sugar and only 1 dessertspoon of cocoa (a substitute for the usual dessertspoon of cornflour). I also made only half the quantity (used 4 large eggs) and this was plenty to make a spectacular pavlova.
    I read (on Nigella L’s site) that the acidity of the vinegar holds the egg-white together.
    Anyway we had a beautiful night and the black forest pavlova was a hit and leftovers are still delicious today, so thank you!

    1. Hi Lola, sorry to hear you had trouble with the recipe. I made it twice in the recent past the exact same way and it still worked for me. Quite honestly when I’ve used vinegar or lemon juice I’ve never noticed any difference to when I’ve not used it, so I leave it out. That’s great you were still able to get a good pav with the modifications that worked for you. Regards, Tanya

  31. Hi Tanya, Have you ever made these on a smaller scale? Like individual serving sizes? I’d like to try this but make multiple single servings. Do you have a suggestion on adjusting the baking time for that? Thank you!

  32. Wow, tried the expresso/chocolate Pavlova sooooooooo nice thanks so much our guests loved it.
    Alan NZ

    1. Hi Alan, So good to hear your feedback! I made also the black forest pavlova for a party last weekend but topped it instead with whipped cream with vanilla powder through it, strawberry pieces and toasted flaked almonds. I then made a chocolate ganache with Cointreau and drizzled this over the whole thing. It was a massive hit, you might like to try this variation. Regards, Tanya

  33. Looks fantastic – I’m going to try it tomorrow! And very appropriate for me growing up in the 70s in NZ where no sophisticated meal was complete without the pavlova topped with sliced kiwi fruit!


  34. Do you need so much sugar to make this. I love pavlovas and so does my husband but he has cancer and doesn’t eat sugar where possible. So would a small amount still get the results??

    1. Hi Maxine,

      Sorry to hear of your husband’s illness. Unfortunately pavlovas tend to sink if there isn’t enough sugar. I’ve tried halving it and it doesn’t work. You might like to experiment with refined sugar alternatives like xylitol, available at health food shops.


  35. Wow this looks so delicious and so nicely photographed too! Love it so much! <3

  36. I LOVE making merginue anything and this is so special. What a lovely recipe, so happy I found it. I’m spending Christmas with my son, his girlfriend and her family this year. I volunteered to bring the dessert, guess what I’ll be taking? Thank you so much.


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