Chocolate Raspberry Pavlova

I want to tell you something:

If you want it, and you claim it as your own, it's yours. 

Several years ago, I wanted to be a Dancer. I danced every day, for hours and hours. But I started late. And I did not dance on pointe, and I worked so hard, and I loved to dance so much. 
But I could never call myself a Dancer. 
In my mind, I was always just Someone Who Danced. 

(My ballet shoes.)

I thought that being a dancer was a title that was earned, something you were eventually given when you were "good enough." I thought that to be a Dancer you had to be some kind of rarified angel. A sort of god. 

And then, just the other day, I realized that being a Dancer isn't something you earn, or win or are entitled to. It's something you claim. 

And now, several years later, after giving up that dream, I'm a Dancer. Finally. 

I wish I had realized this much sooner. I would have saved myself so much heartache. 

If you want it, and you claim it as your own, it's yours. 


Anna Pavlova certainly did: 

And she was so utterly fabulous that the spectacular dessert The Pavlova is named after her. 

Pavlovas are light and airy: egg whites are whipped and whipped until they are basically cloud, baked until crisp, and then topped with whipped cream and berries and shredded chocolate. 
Pavlova is oh so divine. Pavlovas are bold and different, a sort of anomaly in the dessert world. 


because according to modern dance goddess Martha Graham, 
"First we have to believe, and then we believe." 
Which I guess means OWN IT.
And I am a Dancer. 


Chocolate Raspberry Pavlova

from Nigella Lawson via The Food Network

For the Meringue Base:
6 large egg whites
2 cups superfine sugar
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder sifted
1 teaspoon balsamic or red wine vinegar
2 ounces dark chocolate finely chopped 
For the Toppings:
2 cups heavy cream
4 cups raspberries
1 to 2 ounces dark chocolate 

Prepare the pan: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment. Draw a 9-inch-diameter circle on the paper with a pencil, tracing a round cake tin that size. Flip the paper over so your meringue doesn't touch the pencil marks - you'll still be able to see the circle. Make the meringue: Beat the egg whites with a mixer until satiny peaks form, and then beat in the sugar a spoonful at a time until the meringue is stiff and shiny. Add the chocolate: Sprinkle the cocoa, vinegar and then the chopped chocolate over the egg whites. Gently fold everything with a rubber spatula until the cocoa is thoroughly mixed in. Shape the meringue: Secure the parchment to the baking sheet with a dab of meringue under each corner. Mound the meringue onto the parchment within the circle, smoothing the sides and the top with a spatula. Bake the meringue: Place in the oven, then immediately turn the temperature down to 300 degrees F and cook for one to one and a quarter hours. When it's ready, it should look crisp and dry on top, but when you prod the center you should feel the promise of squidginess beneath your fingers. Let it cool: Turn off the oven and open the door slightly; let the chocolate meringue disk cool completely in the oven. When you'reready to serve, invert onto a big flatbottomed plate and peel off the parchment. Decorate the Pavlova: Whisk the cream till thick but still soft and pile it on top of the meringue, then scatter the raspberries on top. Coarsely grate the chocolate haphazardly over the top so that you get curls of chocolate rather than rubble, as you don't want the raspberries' luscious color and form to be obscured. You want the Pavlova to look like a frosted cake.