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Sea Salted Chocolate + Vanilla Mini Pavlovas

Sea Salted Chocolate + Vanilla Mini Pavlovas

avlova is another member of my favorite category of desserts: those that look fancy but are actually pretty easy to prepare. Pavlova is a simple meringue, whipped egg whites and sugar that is spread into a large disk and baked until crisp on the outside. While the outer layer is crunchy, the inside is soft and marshmallowy. It is traditionally topped with whipped cream and fresh fruit, and is very popular in its native Australia and New Zealand, especially around the holidays.

ot to offend any Australians or New Zealanders, but this is clearly not the traditional pavlova with tons of whipped cream and fruits. There is however, a velvety dark chocolate blanket with a crisp, soft and chewy bed on the bottom and a fluffy vanilla pillow of whipped cream on top. And straying even further, these guys are topped with some more chocolate and crunchy sea salt. I would so dare say any present Aussies or Kiwis would find these pretty amazing.

his may be the time to address the idea that sea salt is better for you/lower in sodium than regular salt. In the last few years I am sure you have seen many products have been toting sea salt labels. Companies are hoping to draw in consumers who perceive sea salt to be healthier, or perhaps those who just enjoy this trendy salt. The thing is though that sea salt and table salt have the same sodium content by weight. The only way sea salt could decrease your sodium intake would be if you were measuring out a volume of it to use. Sea salt has larger crystal sizes than regular salt, and therefore a teaspoon of table salt would be more packed and heavier than a teaspoon of flaky sea salt. It’s kind of like you could fit a lot more rocks in a bucket if the rocks are smaller. Okay weird example. 

nyway, I hope I haven’t ruined sea salt for you, because it does have some characteristics that regular salt does not. Sea salt’s big flaky shapes mean that it adds desirable texture and crunch to foods. And the mineral content offers a pleasant, subtle earthy kind of taste. These unique qualities make sea salt a great addition to these mini pavlovas. Salt of any kind is always a welcome pairing with chocolate as it contrasts the sweetness in a way to bring out another level of chocolate flavor.

n making these pavlovas, it is important to make sure the whipped egg whites and sugar mixture is smooth before you add in the rest of the ingredients. If it is gritty, the meringues won’t turn out with their light and beautiful crisp exterior, nor their pillowy height. (Even if this does happen, they still taste good anyway. Just speaking from experience…) Also, I know temptation will tell you otherwise, but it is best to let the meringues cool in the oven as instructed. Give yourself enough time to let this happen. Making these a day (or several days!) before you plan on eating them is a great idea. These keep super well for around a week covered at room temp and so are a perfect dessert to make ahead of time! 

hope you give these delicious and unique pavlovas a try this holiday season. If you are a human/love chocolate, then I am sure you will love them!

Sea Salted Chocolate + Vanilla Mini Pavlovas
Makes 6
 
Pavlova recipe adapted from here
 
Pavlovas
4 egg whites at room temperature
1 cup superfine sugar
¾ tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. lemon juice or white vinegar
2 tsp. corn starch
small pinch sea salt
 
Chocolate sauce
1 cup heavy cream
8 oz. dark chocolate, chopped (or milk chocolate)
½ tsp. vanilla extract
¼ tsp. sea salt
 
Whipped cream
1 cup heavy cream
¾ tsp. vanilla extract
3 tbs. powdered sugar
 
chopped chocolate and sea salt for serving
 
Preheat oven to 250°F.
 
Start by whisking the egg whites. You can use a stand mixer with the whisk attachment or a large bowl and an electric whisk. Beat the whites until soft peaks form. Start adding in the sugar about 1 tbs. at a time and incorporate well after each addition. After a few minutes of whisking, the egg whites should be getting stiff and shiny. Feel the mixture between two fingers. It should feel smooth, with little to no grit from the sugar. If it isn’t smooth, keep whisking until it is. Then fold in the vanilla, cornstarch, vinegar, and pinch of salt.
 
Line a sheet tray (approx. 18"x13") with parchment paper. Divide the meringue into 6 even piles. Use a spoon or spatula to shape each into a disk shape, make sure to leave at least 1” around each to allow for spreading.
 
Bake for 50 minutes. The meringues should be dry on the outside when done. Turn off the heat, leave the oven door a little open, and let them cool to room temp in the oven. This helps to prevent lots of cracks.
 
To make the chocolate sauce heat the cream in a small pot until it is hot (little bubbles form around the edges). Add in the chocolate and let sit for a few minutes. Then stir well until the chocolate is totally melty and incorporated. Stir in the vanilla and salt. Chocolate sauce should be room temp when serving.
 
Right before serving, make the whipped cream. Whisk cream vigorously in a medium bowl until soft peaks form. Then gently whisk in the powdered sugar and vanilla. Make sure the powdered sugar isn’t clumpy before adding.
 
Serve meringues with the chocolate sauce, whipped cream, chopped chocolate, and a little sprinkle of sea salt! Plain meringues keep well for a few days at room temperature.
 
Notes: Superfine sugar dissolves much faster into the egg whites compared to regular sugar. If you only have regular sugar though, you can make it finer by blending it for 60-90 seconds in a food processor. Only add toppings to pavlova right before serving or else it will get kind of soggy/mushy.

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