Chocolate Pavlova Torte with Raspberry Dream Cream: Perfect Imperfection

Monday, February 13, 2012


As a teen, I remember having lots of conversations with my mother about dating and relationships.  Of her many “isms”, the one I heard most was “Looks aren’t everything.  It’s what’s on the inside that matters.”    Of course, she was right, but my superficial 16 year old brain didn’t always agree.  Before I settled down with Mr. SGCC, I dated a wide variety of boys.  Some were blindingly beautiful, and some had other, less obvious attributes.  More often than not, the pretty boys turned out to be a disappointment.   They were usually too busy flexing their muscles and  gazing at their own reflections in the mirror to worry about such mundane things as developing  a personality or perfecting the art of conversation.  Though I hate to admit it, it was almost always the slightly rumpled, kind of quirky guys that I had the best times with.  They were the ones that made me laugh and feel special.  They had substance.


Oddly enough, I’ve found the same thing to be true when it comes to desserts.  I can’t count the times I’ve drooled over a display of stunningly perfect pastries or cakes, only to be disappointed when I took that first bite.  Sadly, they don’t often taste as good as they look.   I guess looks aren’t everything in the world of sweets either.  This Chocolate Pavlova Torte with Raspberry Dream Cream is a good example.  On the outside, it looks kind of craggy, drippy and messy.  It wears its flaws for the world to see.  But on the inside, it is crunchy, creamy and chewy all at the same time.  It has personality up the wazoo.  And, it is truly sublime! 


A pavlova is a meringue-based dessert with a crisp, crackly outer shell and a lovely, soft, pillowy center.  It is said to have been created in honor of the famed 20th century Russian ballerina, Anna Pavlova.  It’s a light and ethereal dessert that is often served covered with fresh fruit and whipped cream.  In honor of Valentine’s Day, I’ve taken it a step further, studding mine with bits of rich dark chocolate and smothering it with an incredible silky and luxurious raspberry cream.

My Raspberry Dream Cream is inspired by Pierre Herme’s Extraordinary Lemon Cream found in Dorie Greenspan’s Baking: From My Home To Yours. I am absolutely mad about that lemon cream! So, when it came to finding a filling for my chocolate pavlova, I decided to adapt Dorie’s recipe using raspberries instead.   The method for making the cream is similar to that for making a fruit curd.  The difference is that the butter isn’t cooked with the other curd ingredients.  Rather, it is added in after cooking and cooling them, creating an emulsion.  Dorie says that because the butter doesn’t melt and re-firm, as it does with curd, the resulting cream is lighter, richer and well… creamier.   I can’t vouch for the science involved, but I can say that the cream definitely lives up to its name.  It is extraordinary, and it tastes like a dream!


To make the pavlova shells, I used my favorite recipe by Nigella Lawson.  They aren’t really difficult at all to make, but baking them can be a little tricky.  It is important to cool them completely inside the oven after baking to avoid having them collapse.  They are still delicious even if they do fall.  But, why not avoid that if you can.


You can see from the photos that my pavlova shells did not turn out perfectly.  Honestly, I didn’t dare cut it before I photographed it for fear of it falling apart!   Unfortunately, when dealing with large hunks of baked meringue, some cracks and dings are inevitable.  I like to think that these are part of their charm.   That said, it is amazing what copious amounts of cream and fruit can hide.  Don’t ask me how I know this.  Just take my word for it.

So, there you have it – an imperfect dessert that is just perfect as it is, flaws and all.  With this much personality, looks really aren’t everything.




14 responses to Chocolate Pavlova Torte with Raspberry Dream Cream: Perfect Imperfection

  1. On February 13, 2012 at 12:16pm, Renée J. (RJ Flamingo) said...

    This both looks and sounds divine! Pavlova is one of my favorite desserts to make and eat, so using it as a base for that luscious cream, is perfect to me. Betting it would be equally great with strawberries (what can I do? husband doesn’t like raspberries. *sigh*), so I think I’ll try it for V Day dessert. Thanks, Susan! :-)

  2. On February 13, 2012 at 12:22pm, Rosa said...

    A heavenly dessert! So beautiful and droolworthy looking.



  3. On February 13, 2012 at 12:45pm, Wendy said...

    I like the stories as much as the recipes, thanks x

  4. On February 13, 2012 at 3:53pm, Jill Mant~a SaucyCook said...

    Damn you woman! What a temptress you are! I just finished wiping up the drool and making my shopping list as I just have to make this for desert tomorrow night! I could totally relate to your post regarding the insides being what counts when it comes to men and I will be making valentines dinner for my forever man, geeky mad scientist that he is!! My first husband is still stuck starring at his image in a stream!

  5. On February 13, 2012 at 8:10pm, LizA said...

    Your theory on desserts explains most wedding cakes, doesn’t it? All lovely on the outside, cardboard on the inside? I’d rather have more rubber chicken than wedding cake.

    PS – There is something to be said about people who have substance. I got one of those myself, but he’s still easy on the eyes all these years later. Beauty being in the eye of the beholder and all. LOL

  6. On February 13, 2012 at 9:09pm, ciaochowlinda said...

    Oh my – and I thought regular pavlovas were delicious. This chocolate one looks divine.

  7. On February 13, 2012 at 9:12pm, bellini said...

    Pavlova is a “dreamy” dessert and good fro you too I am sure! Happy Valentines day Susan!!

  8. On February 13, 2012 at 9:41pm, Nettie Moore said...

    this does look like a dream! Happy valentine’s day!

  9. On February 14, 2012 at 2:06pm, Rachel (S[d]OC) said...

    Considering that I’m a klutz when it comes to baking and everything I make is lopsided and lumpy, I have to agree that looks aren’t everything. My desserts always have quality ingredients and are made with love and people look forward to eating them even if they always look messy. Too many fancy desserts are more about flash than flavor. Whenever I see those Ace of Cakes shows, I find myself screaming at the screen, “But what does it TASTE like?”

    I avoid men who are too good looking. They never have as much substance on the inside than on the outside!

    I think your pavlova has a beautiful color and I’m drawn right to it!

  10. On February 16, 2012 at 1:21pm, Christina said...

    Hey! I was just thinking about adapting Dorie’s lemon cream recipe to raspberry, and I thought I’d see if anyone else had done it before. So I was so glad that you posted this just a mere three days ago.

    So, since you’ve done it, are there any changes you would make? I was planning on putting it in the middle of a cake for a baby shower, but I wasn’t sure if the cream would set up like the lemon variety does. So any guidance would greatly be appreciated!

    P.S. I think you’re dessert looks lovely, and delicious!

  11. On June 10, 2012 at 7:27am, Marlous said...

    I would like to thank you very much for publishing this heavenly recipe! Recently I made it for a high tea on a mother-daughter day that my friends and I organised and it was by far the most popular dish there. A lot of people there asked where I got this great recipe, so of course I directed them to your website. Keep up the delicious work ;)! I will certainly keep reading your blog!

  12. On June 24, 2012 at 11:40am, Hungry Hippo said...

    missed a spellin mistake

    • On June 24, 2012 at 8:34pm, Susan said...

      So did you. And, a capitalization mistake too.

  13. On October 18, 2012 at 10:53am, ToBakeOrToBurn said...

    Wow! I am definitely trying this! It looks amazing <3

1 pings to Chocolate Pavlova Torte with Raspberry Dream Cream: Perfect Imperfection

  1. On February 17, 2012 at 8:32pm, Filet Mignon with King Crab and Bernaise Sauce | Healthy & Gourmet Cooking Recipes | SaucyCooks pinged...

    […] This was my love song to the Brit last Tuesday(truthfully, he begs me not to sing): Pan Seared Filet of Beef, drizzled with a rich Bearnaise sauce laden with butter, wine vinegar, shallots and tarragon, served next to a most beautiful fanned baked potato, and asparagus roasted with garlic, sea salt and olive oil. I served this with a crisp French Baguette, a delicious Italian Super Tuscan red wine and we finished the meal with the most decadent, richest desert I have ever made: Mrs. Sticky, Gooey, Creamy, Chewy’s Chocolate Berry Pavlova. […]

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Hello and welcome to SGCC! I’m Susan, a professional writer, food columnist, recipe developer, wife, mother, daughter and sister, who used to be a lawyer in a previous life. My love of food comes from a long line of wonderful and creative Italian home cooks who didn’t always have a lot, but knew how to make a lot out of what they had. I hope that you enjoy yourself while you’re here, and visit often! read more >>

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