The great Australian pav-off


I’m not sure how popular pavlova is around the world, or it might just be an Australian thing {or New Zealand if we want to get techinical}, but around this time of year everyone seems to roll out the eggy-creamy-deliciousness.

Our neighbourhood Christmas party was on over the weekend and I told my neighbour that I’d planned to make my chocolate pavlova. “Chocolate pavlova?” she exclaimed, “I’ve never heard of chocolate pavlova…”

“Oh, it’s good,” I explained and left it at that.

I tell people that I’ve probably made it around 60 times, and last night when I was thinking about it I thought that perhaps I was exaggerating. But when I do the maths I’m probably right. I’ve been making it for over 10 years and that’s 6 times a year, and I imagine that to be right. I’ll make it 3 times this month alone. That’s a LOT of chocolate pavlova.

So a few days later my neighbour {who we’ll call Carol, because that’s her name} came over and we talked about the chocolate pavlova again. She’d Googled it since we last talked and she was intrigued. A self-professed Pavlova Queen she was curious to know if could possibly be better than her perfected pavlova that she rolls out time and time again. “I think I’ll make the chocolate pavlova too,” she piped up.

“I think this calls for a pav-off. It’s a challenge!” I enthusiastically called it, and then slightly regretted it.

Was I really going to go up against the Pavlova Queen? I was. Gulp.

Days later the pre-game nerves kicked in. I’ve said it a gazillion times but I can make food taste good, but when it comes to making it pretty… it’s not my thing. I can’t. I try. But I don’t have the attention to detail. My pavlova always sinks, but man it tastes good. “I should let her win,” I told Hubby, “It’s the nice thing to do.”

Sunday finally came and I had fresh eggs at the ready. I’d even gone as far to buy the best dutch cocoa I could find {seriously though, it was the only one left at the supermarket. My standard one was out} and I was ready. I beat those eggs like my life depended on it. I measured that cocoa with complete precision. I folded it like I was making gentle love to the pavlova. My heart and soul went into the pavlova. It did.

I popped it into the oven, and put the timer on. I don’t usually put on the timer, because I’m not an attention to detail person. I can usually smell when something is ready {i.e. about to burn} but because I’ve been burning everything lately, including boiled potatoes, I put on the timer and waited.

And then the phone rang. My cousins wanted me to meet them for lunch, immediately if not sooner. Obviously the darn pavlova was keeping me at home. So I waited… and waited. Until I couldn’t wait any longer. Before the time went off, I turned off the oven, left the door ajar and went for lunch.

I live on the edge like that.

As soon as we came home, I jumped out of the car {just like they do in the action movies, it was swift and fast and purposeful} and instead of checking on my own pavlova, I ran to Carol’s house to see my competition. I saw it as soon as I walked into the house. It sat on the bench under a clean tea towel… and she unveiled it, I gasped. It had more height than I’ve ever managed to achieve. I was in trouble.

On returning home, I saw that mine had managed to sink more than it had before. But like always, I knew there was nothing a little cream, raspberries and chocolate couldn’t fix.

The party started, and the pavlovas stayed securely in their respective homes. Nibblies were eaten, conversations were had, sausage sandwiches were eaten.

I had to pop home to feed Luella, and it took a little longer than usual. From the corner of my window I saw something that shocked me. Carol had returned home and was unveiling her pavlova… WITHOUT ME. She was going to for the pavlova-reveal-advantage.

I wasn’t having it. I threw the baby to my Ma to hold, and grabbed my pavlova with great haste. But I also had another trick up my sleeve. I’d done the sneakiest trick of all, I’d produced a second dish… a chocolate ripple cake in the shape of a wreath.

As I walked into the party with my two dishes I heard one person exclaim, “She brought two, she WINS!”

I did a little victory dance there and then.

I placed the pavlova on the table next to Carol’s whose was already half demolished. It was on.

I forgot to take a photo. Mine lacked the height, but it looked just as beautiful on it’s crisp white platter, scattered with dark chocolate. I couldn’t eat any myself {being pretty much dairy-free is no fun at Christmas time people, no fun at all} but I looked on as people munched on.

The people in my neighbourhood had never discovered the delight that is chocolate pavlova, so as they all enjoyed bite after bite you could hear them gasp with mouths full of chocoaltey-goo, “Thish is shooo gooood.”

There never was a clear winner decided. I had one person sidle up and tell me I totally won, but I think when there’s enough chocolate pavlova for that many people… everyone wins. Don’t they?

And anyway, we all know that I’m the best chocolate pavlova maker in the world, don’t we? I just need to bring Nigella Lawson down. It’s on lady.

P.S. If you want to try it yourself, the recipe is here. And for the record, you really DO want to try it. It’s good.

  • Donna Hilton

    WooHoo!! In a competition like that EVERYONE wins!! Obviously as Carol had not made a choc pav before you not only provided inspiration but taught the ‘ pavlova’ queen something new and therefore remain the Master to the apprentice!! Sounds like the yummiest street party ever!!

  • Katharine Harper

    Pavlova is a favourite of mine in England – And to ring the changes sometimes it becomes Eton mess. Very handy if you don’ t do pretty food. Try a vanilla and banana pavlova, alao v good

  • Lisa Mckenzie

    Of course i do want to try it ,it will be awesome x

  • Smaggle

    I can’t make to save myself and I’m a pretty good baker! Heart breaking.

  • Katherine

    You have such a great attitude in this post. I’d be livid if I told someone I was making something that specific to bring to a party and they then said they had decided to make the same thing!

  • Christie Connelly

    I have been thinking about your chocolate pav since last year! I chickened out at the last minute and made a regular one, but this year I am definitely giving it a go. Thanks for the (delicious) inspiration. You are always a winner beautiful lady x

  • Michelle W

    Chantelle, next time just have your pav without the cream! Don’t suffer like that, LOL! Your chocolate pavlova has me intrigued. I’m not really a chocolate fan, but the idea of chocolate, raspberries, and cream has me thinking I might just try it! Maybe I’ll make two – one regular and one chocolate… now I have to invite lots of people over to eat them. :-)

  • Amy

    I have heard of pavlova, but never tasted it. It’s not a highly common dish in the US. I may have to introduce this to my friends. A bunch of homeschooling moms deserve a treat.

  • Kylie Wakeley

    Nigella’s chocolate pav is the greatest!! YUM! I need to make it for whatever my next thing is. Usually I whip out my fail proof Donna Hay pavlova, that thing is beautiful.