Experience the heavenly combination of airy meringue, rich chocolate, and luscious cherries in this delightful Black Forest Mini Pavlovas recipe. Perfect for special occasions, these elegant pavlovas are a sophisticated dessert that looks beautiful and tastes delicious.
This black forest mini pavlova recipe is perfect for those who crave a sophisticated and elegant dessert that is as beautiful to look at as it is delicious to eat.
The crisp and airy chocolate-swirled meringue nests are filled with silky whipped cream, topped with a luscious cherry compote, and garnished with fresh cherries and grated chocolate.
And it’s much easier to make than it looks.
Plus you can make most of it in advance so it won’t take up much time while you’re getting ready for a dinner party.
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This recipe makes about 6 individual or 12 mini pavlovas.
Here is your shopping list:
- dairy – 1½ cups heavy whipping cream
- eggs – 4 large ones
- baking supplies – ½ teaspoon cream of tartar – This helps to stabilize the egg whites so they whisk quickly and the sugar is more likely to fully dissolve. It’s also what makes the meringues chewy in the middle.
- sugar – 1¾ cups white granulated sugar, 3 Tablespoons icing sugar
- chocolate – ½ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips, 2 or 3 ounces (or squares) semi-sweet chocolate
- cherries – 1 pound frozen cherries plus a few fresh ones for garnish
- alcohol – 1 Tablespoon kirsch
- a few drops of lemon juice or vinegar for cleaning the mixer.
- Eliminate the cream of tartar if desired. However, the process may take longer and the meringues will be crisper.
- You can use 3 ounces (or squares) semi-sweet chocolate instead of the chocolate chips if you prefer. Just chop them into smaller pieces before melting.
- Fresh cherries can be substituted for the frozen ones but be sure to pit them first. Also add a tablespoon of water to the saucepan when making the cherry compote.
- Kirsch is traditionally the ingredient that makes ‘Black Forest’ flavor. However, it can be replaced by any cherry liqueur, cherry brandy or cherry juice.
How to make mini pavlovas
Take the eggs out of the fridge a couple of hours ahead of time to allow them to warm to room temperature.
Preheat the oven to 225ºF.
Grate 2 ounces (or squares) of semi-sweet chocolate. Or if you want to get really fancy, you can make them into chocolate curls. You won’t need these until we get to the decorating stage, so store it in an airtight container or ziploc bag for now.
Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. You may need two of them to fit all of the pavlovas.
Thoroughly clean the mixing bowl of a stand mixer and the whisk attachment with fresh lemon juice or white vinegar to remove any grease. This makes sure that the meringue will set.
Melt the chocolate chips
Melt ½ cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips in the microwave.
To do this, microwave the chocolate in a microwaveable bowl on 50% power for 30 seconds. Take it out and stir it. Even if it doesn’t look like it has melted, it will likely be soft underneath.
Repeat the microwaving and stirring process until the chocolate is fully melted.
Don’t be tempted to cook it longer between stirs because it will go from melted to burnt very quickly.
We want to do this before making the meringue so that the chocolate has time to cool.
Separate the eggs
We only need the egg whites for this recipe, so you’ll need to separate the 4 eggs.
It is very important not to get any egg yolk mixed in with the whites or they won’t form the light and fluffy egg mixture that we need for the pavlovas.
You can do this with an egg separator, letting the egg whites fall into a bowl.
Or by carefully cracking each egg in half (so that the yolk doesn’t break). Then pass the yolk back and forth between the two eggshell halves over a bowl while allowing the egg whites to drop into it.
Save the egg yolks for another recipe.
Regardless of which method you choose, it is a good idea not to separate the eggs over the bowl that contains the rest of the already-separated egg whites.
Do it over a different bowl, then pour the white from each egg into your mixing bowl after you have successfully separated it.
That way if you accidentally break the yolk, you haven’t ruined all of the egg whites you have already done.
Make the meringue
Add ½ teaspoon cream of tartar to the egg whites in the mixing bowl.
Begin beating with a whisk attachment on the slowest speed for 1 to 2 minutes.
When bubbles appear increase the speed to medium and whisk the egg whites until stiff peaks form.
Increase the speed to high and add 1½ cups granulated sugar, one tablespoon at a time.
Ensure the sugar is fully incorporated and the egg whites return to stiff peaks between each addition.
Don’t rush this step as it is important to add the sugar slowly in small increments to ensure it fully dissolves.
Once all the sugar has been added, test the meringue mixture by rubbing a small amount between your thumb and forefinger.
If it feels grainy, continue whisking at high speed until it feels smooth and silky. This can take a long time (8 to 10 minutes).
Don’t rush the process since any grains of sugar that are left when the meringue goes into the oven can cause them to leak.
Gently pour the cooled melted chocolate over the meringue mixture but don’t stir it.
Make the pavlova nests
You’ll want to make the pavlova nests and bake them right away since the egg whites will start to lose their fluff pretty quickly.
Dab a little of the meringue under each corner of the baking parchment to secure it to the cookie sheet.
Use two tablespoons to scoop up portions of the meringue and gently place them on the cookie sheet leaving a small amount of space in-between.
You should get about 6 individual-sized pavlovas or 12 mini pavlovas out of this recipe.
As you scoop up and shape the meringue with the spoons, the chocolate will gradually mix into it giving you a marbled effect.
Use the back of a spoon to create a well in the center of each meringue mound.
Bake the pavlovas
Place the baking sheet(s) in the preheated oven and bake for 1 hour. Do not open the oven during this time since uneven heating can cause them to crack.
Then test for doneness. The meringues should feel dry to the touch and will easily peel away from the baking parchment when they are ready.
If they still feel sticky on the outside, bake for another 15 minutes and test again.
You don’t want to overbake them since they will turn out hard inside (like a meringue) rather than soft and fluffy (like a pavlova).
Leave the pavlovas in the oven with the door closed to cool completely, or even overnight. This helps to prevent them from cracking.
Remove from the oven and store in an airtight container at room temperature until you are ready to put on the toppings.
They are so pretty, you could almost serve them without toppings (but we won’t).
Make the cherry compote
Meanwhile, make the cherry compote.
To do this, add 1 pound frozen cherries and ¼ cup sugar to a medium size saucepan.
Cook over low heat for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the cherries break down and the mixture thickens.
Remove from the heat and stir in 1 Tablespoon kirsch. Adding it after removing from the heat prevents the alcohol from burning off.
Set aside to cool.
Make whipped cream filling
When you are ready to put the pavlovas together, you’ll need to make the whipped cream filling.
Add 1½ cups heavy cream to a large mixing bowl along with 3 Tablespoons powdered sugar.
Beat with a whisk attachment until it has soft peaks.
Put the pavlovas together
Fill the pavlova nest with the whipped cream, then sprinkle with the grated chocolate shavings.
Top each pavlova with two heaping tablespoons of cherry compote and garnish with fresh cherries.
I like to dip the fresh cherries in the compote so they get that extra shine.
Drizzle some cherry syrup (from the compote) over the top if you want even more cherry goodness.
Once assembled, these black forest pavlovas are best eaten immediately.
Otherwise, the moisture in the toppings will start to dissolve the meringue part of the pavlova.
Undecorated meringues will keep for at least a week in an airtight container at room temperature.
If you attempt to refrigerate them, the meringue will start to dissolve.
The cherry compote can be stored separately in the refrigerator for up to a week.
How to make ahead of time
While you can’t completely assemble the pavlovas ahead of time, you can have all of the components ready to go. So it will only take a few minutes to put them together.
To do this, grate the chocolate, make the pavlovas and the cherry compote ahead of time, and store them separately (chocolate and pavlovas at room temperature and cherry compote in the refrigerator).
When you are ready to serve, make the whipped cream and put the pavlovas together as above.
Frequently Asked Questions
Meringue and pavlova are both desserts made from whipped egg whites and sugar with the primary difference being their texture. Meringue is usually light, crisp, and airy, while pavlova has a crisp outer shell with a soft, marshmallow-like center.
They are also used in different ways. Meringue can be served on its own, piped into various shapes, or used as a component in other desserts, such as lemon meringue pie or Eton mess. Pavlova is typically served as its own dessert, often topped with whipped cream and fresh fruit.
Pavlova is a dessert from Australia and New Zealand, with both countries claiming it as their own. It is said to be named after the Russian ballerina, Anna Pavlova.
The meringue base for a Pavlova can be made up to a week in advance and stored in an airtight container at room temperature. Do not refrigerate or the meringue will start to dissolve.
To prevent pavlovas from leaking, make sure that all of the sugar has been completely dissolved in the egg whites. You shouldn’t feel any graininess if you rub a bit of the whipped egg mixture between your fingers.
To prevent pavlovas from cracking, do not open the oven during the first 45 minutes to an hour of baking. Uneven heating can cause them to crack. Then after they have finished baking, leave them in the oven with the heat turned off until the oven has completely cooled.
Other fruit desserts you might like
Black Forest Mini Pavlovas
- 1 or 2 baking sheets
- parchment paper
- mixer with whisk attachment and mixing bowl
- measuring cups and spoons
- 2 large spoons
- few drops fresh lemon juice or vinegar for cleaning the mixer
For the pavlova
- 4 large eggs, separated (we will only need the whites for this recipe)
- ½ teaspoon cream of tartar
- 1½ cups white granulated sugar
- ½ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips, melted and cooled
For the cherry compote
- 1 pound frozen cherries
- ¼ cup white granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon kirsch or cherry liqueur
- 1½ cups heavy whipping cream
- 3 tablespoons powdered sugar
- 2 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, grated
- 12 to 18 fresh cherries to decorate
- Preheat the oven to 225ºF.
- Place a piece of parchment paper on a cookie sheet. You may need 2 of them depending on their size.
- Clean the mixing bowl of a stand mixer and the whisk attachment with fresh lemon juice or white vinegar.
- Add the egg whites from 4 large eggs and ½ teaspoon cream of tartar to the mixing bowl.
- Begin beating with a whisk attachment on the slowest speed.
- When bubbles appear increase the speed to medium and whisk the egg whites to stiff peaks.
- On a high speed, add 1½ cups white sugar 1 tablespoon at a time ensuring the sugar is fully incorporated and the egg whites comes back to stiff peaks between each addition.
- When all the sugar has been added dip your thumb and forefinger into the meringue mixture and feel it. If it feels grainy continue to whisk on a high speed until the mixture feels slippery. This can take several minutes.
- Then pour in the cooled melted chocolate but don’t stir it.
- Dab a little of the meringue under each corner of the baking parchment to secure it to the baking sheet(s).
- Use two tablespoons to scoop up portions of the meringue and place them on the baking sheet(s) leaving a small amount of space in-between. You should be able to make about 6 individual-sized pavlovas or 12 mini pavlovas.
- Use a spoon to make a well in the center of each one.
- Place the cookie sheet(s) into the oven and set a timer for 1 hour.
- After 1 hour open the oven door and test for doneness. The meringues should feel dry and will peel away from the baking parchment when they are ready.
- At this point leave the cookie sheets inside the oven and close the oven door. Leave the meringues until the oven has completely cooled. You can leave them overnight if you want to.
- Meanwhile, make the cherry compote:
- Add the frozen cherries and sugar to a medium size saucepan set over a low heat.
- Cook for 10-15 minutes until the cherries have broken down and you have a thick consistency.
- Remove from the heat and stir in the kirsch.
- Set aside to cool.
- Add the heavy cream to a large mixing bowl along with the powdered sugar.
- Whisk to very soft peaks.
To assemble the pavlovas:
- Fill the dip in the meringue with the whipped cream then scatter over the grated chocolate.
- Top with two heaped tablespoons of cherry compote and add fresh cherries on top.
- Drizzle over some cherry syrup before serving.
- Cleaning the mixing bowl and whisk attachment with lemon or vinegar ensures they are spotlessly clean and free from grease. Using clean apparatus helps to achieve perfect meringue.
- The cream of tartar helps to stabilize the egg whites so they whisk quickly and the sugar is more likely to fully dissolve. It’s also what makes the meringues chewy (rather than hard) in the middle.
- It’s important to add the sugar slowly in small increments to ensure it fully dissolves so don’t rush this step.
- Checking the meringue mixture to see if it feels slippery is necessary because any grains of sugar left when the egg mixture goes into the oven it can cause it to leak.
- As you scoop up and shape the meringue with the spoons the chocolate will gradually mix into the white meringue mixture giving a marbling effect.
- It’s important to leave the meringues in the oven until it is cool as this helps to prevent any cracking.
- The kirsch is added after the cherries have reduced down so that the alcohol doesn’t burn off.
- To make ahead, bake the pavlovas and make the cherry compote then store separately until you are ready to put them together. Make the whipped cream filling and assemble the toppings immediately before serving.
- Undecorated pavlovas will keep for at least a week in an airtight container at room temperature. If you attempt to refrigerate them the egg mixture will start to dissolve.
- Cherry compote can be stored in the refrigerator for up to a week as well.
- Once assembled these Black Forest Pavlovas are best eaten immediately.
- You can omit the cream of tartar and follow the recipe as directed however the process may take longer and the meringues will be crisper.
- For the cherry compote we used frozen cherries as they are cheaper and already pitted. You can substitute frozen for fresh but be sure to remove the pits from the cherries. And add a tablespoon of water at the cooking stage.
- Kirsch is traditionally the ingredient that makes something ‘Black Forest’ flavor, however, it can be substituted with any cherry liqueur or cherry juice.
Nutrition values are estimates only, using online calculators. Please verify using your own data.
Have comments or questions on our black forest mini pavlovas? Tell us in the section below.
This post was originally published on April 27, 2023 but was updated with new content on December 5, 2023.