Dark Chocolate Coffee Pavlova

Who doesn't LOVE the combination of chocolate and coffee.. and then you add in a kick of Bailey's Irish Cream... these flavors are like a party in your mouth! When we were told to make Pavlovas for Custard & Meringue week, I was SO EXCITED because pavlovas are actually one of my desserts of choice! It's such a wonderful dessert that is not so hard to make AND very impressive for guests to eat. I also feel like pavlovas have some magical way of making you feel lighter after a heavy meal. That means you lose calories by eating more, right? ;) 

My 30th birthday pavlova cake :) 

My 30th birthday pavlova cake :) 

I few years back, I was lucky enough to be apart of a group of friends that wanted to attempt a pop-up restaurant concept. For that opportunity, I came up with a recipe for mini-pavlovas using a chocolate base with coffee. Because it was an Irish theme'd menu, I naturally incorporated Bailey's Whipped Cream and then topped with raspberries. 

You can have free range for decorating these little guys however you wish. The simplest is a dusting of chocolate shavings. If you want to be ambitious and have the time, temper dark chocolate and create some beautiful toppers. On the show, I made chocolate rolls and placed them between cut raspberries. 

Dark Chocolate Coffee Pavlova, Bailey’s Whipped Cream, Fresh Raspberries
Makes about 20 x 2 ½" mini pavlovas

Pavlova Ingredients: 

  • 6 large egg whites, room temp
  • 300 grams granulated sugar 
  • 2 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon, Valrhona cocoa powder 
  • 1 tablespoon good aged balsamic vinegar 
  • 50 grams good quality chocolate (70%) chopped into small pieces 
  • 2 teaspoons good quality coffee grinds (not instant) 


  • 2 punnet of fresh organic raspberries
  • 500 ml whipping cream 
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar 
  • 2 tablespoons Bailey's Original Irish Cream Liquor 
  • pinch of kosher salt 

Dark Chocolate Decorations:

  • 4 ounces of dark chocolate 70%·       

1.  Preheat oven to 355 F / 180 C. On a piece of parchment paper, trace 2.5 inch circles spaced at least 2 inches apart with a pencil. Should be able to fit 9 of them comfortably on each baking sheet. 

2.  Chop dark chocolate into small pieces and set aside. Note: If you are using a piping tip for the meringue, do not use a narrow tip and make sure to chop the chocolate up in small enough pieces to push through it! 

3.  Place egg whites in a stand mixer bowl with a whisk attachment. Whisk until soft peaks form. Slowly add caster sugar one tablespoon at a time and continue to beat until the egg whites become stiff and glossy. Don’t over beat the egg whites or they will separate. When you can hold the mixture upside down without it falling out it’s done.

4.  Sift in cocoa powder, add balsamic vinegar, chopped chocolate and coffee. Using a large spoon spatula, mix very slowly and carefully by folding the mixture and egg whites. The mixture will be a light brown shade. Don’t over mix or you will deflate the egg whites.

5.  Using a little pavlova mixture, apply on the corners of the parchment paper (same side you drew on) then flip over parchment paper so it’s pencil side down on a baking sheet.

6.  Add meringue mixture to a piping bag and pipe into the circles and clean it up with an offset spatula. Make sure you are FILLING them completely when swirling.

7.  Place into oven then immediate drop the temperature to 284 F. Cook for 1hr to 1hr 15 minutes. Do not check on the pavlovas until the very end of the bake time. 

8.  The way to tell when pavlovas are done cooking is when it looks crisp at the edges. They also may slightly brown. The tops will be dry but if you press on the underside it’ll give a little since the centers are still soft and squishy. If you tap them lightly they should also sound a little hollow. If they still feel a bit soft then put them back into the oven for another minute or two. 

9.  If the pavlovas are crisp, place them back in the oven and leave the door slightly ajar so the pavlovas can cool completely in the oven. Should take another 35 minutes or so. Do NOT remove the pavlovas from the oven before they have finished cooling or they will crack. 

10.  In the meantime, place whipping cream in a CHILLED stand mixer bowl fitted with a whisk attachment. Start to whisk and when some peaks appear, add sugar slowly. Then add in Bailey’s after sugar. Keep whisking till firm but don’t over whip.

11.  Take whipped cream and place into a bowl fitted with plastic wrap and into the fridge until using. Eventually will be piped on each pavlova.

12.  Place whipped cream into piping bag and pipe onto pavlova. Then top with two to three raspberries cut side up to ensure juice doesn’t bleed into cream. Garnish with dark chocolate decorations or shavings. 


Pavlovas from The Great American Baking Show 


Strawberry Black Pepper Mini Pavlovas

Photo: The Great American Baking Show

Photo: The Great American Baking Show

Pavlovas are one of my absolute FAVORITE desserts to bring to dinner parties. They're surprisingly easy so long as you have a reliable oven with consistent temperatures. Get an oven thermometer if you don't already have one. That's how I like to make sure the temperatures are accurate. 

This pavlova was so fun to test because you can pretty much add any sort of freeze dried ingredients to the pavlova base and get these awesome bursts of flavor. One of my favorite desserts is a black pepper strawberry shortcake. Using that as inspiration, I used freeze dried strawberries and black pepper in the pavlova. Then topped them with the balsamic black cherry reduction with vanilla mascarpone cream.

Recipe available on ABC!  


Maple Fennel Crème brûlée

Photo: The Great American Baking Show

Photo: The Great American Baking Show

One of my most surprising recipes I created for the show was the famous "meatball sugar" Maple Fennel crème brûlée. It's pretty funny how I came up with this recipe in the kitchen... I had my bottle of vanilla extract in one hand and start grabbing spices with my other hand throughout my pantry.

I first grabbed honey since I love the taste of vanilla and honey.. but that felt expected. Then I grabbed my maple syrup. I knew I had to include it somehow. Then I went through my savory spices and started to smell the vanilla, maple and spice combos. Black pepper... gross. Thyme... not quite right. Fennel! Wow! 

I took a little dollop of maple syrup and fennel then realized I was onto something! The deep flavor of the maple syrup and the earthiness and spice from the fennel was actually DELICIOUS. Don't knock it till you try it! ;) I then knew with vanilla it would create a great combination that reminds me of camping and being out in the woods. 

Here's where you can grab the recipe! ABC website


May The Force Be With YOU!

Before I even entered the Tent for The Great American Baking Show, we spent a day of filming where I was baking and playing video games at home. I knew I wanted to feature something that would show American how big of a geek I was (heehee) so OF COURSE I themed it as a Star Wars cake! Also secretly hoping for tapping into the Force in the tent! 

The cake is decorated with Swiss Meringue buttercream where I created a galaxy effect with different colors of buttercream layered and smoothed over the course of 50 something rotations.  And decorated with little Darth and Yoda fondant figurines. I was SO HAPPY with the way Darth and Yoda came out. Can you spot the Episode VI easter egg? ;) 

This cake can be spotted in Episode 2: Cookie Week. Watch it on ABC!  


Pumpkin Ginger Spice Cake with Brown Butter Buttermilk Glaze

It's the holidays and I'm so excited to share this super moist and delicious cake recipe! I actually love making this for special occasions as either a bundt or cupcakes! The bundt version holds up much better IMO and gives you even an excuse to eat cake for BREAKFAST. 

This is the perfect cake for pumpkin and ginger lovers. It also just radiates off the smell of Christmas which makes it extra fun to have around the house. 

This cake was featured as my Signature Recipe during Cake week on The Great American Baking Show and won the judges over with flavor! This won't disappoint you or your guests! Watch me make it here

Pumpkin Ginger Spice Cake
Featured on ABC's The Great American Baking Show Ep 1 - Cake Signature
Makes 1 x 10 cup Bundt Cake 

Pumpkin Pie Spice Mix Ingredients (Makes enough for 2 cakes): 
•   1 tablespoon + 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
•   1 teaspoon ground ginger
•   1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
•   3/4 teaspoon ground allspice
•   3/4 teaspoon ground cloves

Cake Ingredients:
•   3 cups all purpose flour
•   2 teaspoons baking soda
•   3 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice mix (above) 
•   1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
•   2 cups granulated sugar
•   1 cup canola oil
•   3 large eggs, room temperature
•   1 teaspoon organic vanilla extra
•   1 x 15oz. can of pure pumpkin puree

Filling Ingredients: 
•   1 1/2 tablespoons fresh ginger, grated
•   1 1/2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
•   1/2 stick melted butter
•   1/4 stick melted unsalted butter
•   1/4 cup granulated sugar
•   1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
•   1 tablespoon of all purpose flour

Vanilla Brown Butter Buttermilk Glaze Ingredients: 
•   1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted and browned
•   2 cups powdered sugar
•   1 vanilla bean pod (or 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract) 
•   3-4 tablespoons of buttermilk
•   Super Red food coloring gel
•   Leaf Green food coloring gel

1.  Preheat oven to 350°F / 176°C and spray 10 cup bundt pan with nonstick spray generously.

2.  In a small bowl, add all the ingredients for the pumpkin spice mix, mix well and then set aside. 

3.  In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking soda, pumpkin spices and salt then whisk together to combine. Set aside.

4.  Take stand mixer bowl and combine sugar and oil together. Beat with the paddle attachment on medium until smooth. Could take 2-3 minutes.

5.  Make the filling next so that it's ready to go when your batter is done. Start peeling off the skin on the fresh ginger and then grate with a micro plane. Place butter in a heavy small stainless steel pot to melt then turn off stove and remove from heat. Once butter has cooled off, add ginger, both sugars and slowly add in butter until just wet and combined.

6.  Go back to the stand mixer and start beating in eggs, one at a time, beating well after each time. Add in vanilla extract until well combined.

7.  Incorporate the flour mixture and pumpkin puree by alternating into the beaten egg, sugar & oil mixture. Start with the flour mix then pumpkin puree and let it mix well after each addition. Taste to ensure there is enough pumpkin to spice to sugar ratio.

8.  Get your filling ready and start transferring cake mix into the well-greased bundt pan.

9.  Add in 1/2 of your cake filling, then add a thin layer of the ginger cinnamon filling. Try to break up the sugar clumps as best as possible. Cover with the remaining amount of cake batter. Make sure you cover all the filling with mix.

10.  Bake for 55-60 minutes or until took pick comes out clean. Rotate the pan half way through baking. If the top begins to brown too much, wrap the pan in foil. You know when the cake is done after inserting a toothpick and it comes out clean without cake batter. Note: you may hit some wet spots with the filling so be mindful when checking the toothpick. 

11.  While cake is baking, make the frosting.

12.  Melt butter on stovetop pan over a medium low heat. Gently stir every now and then and watch it brown. Shouldn’t take longer than 4-6 minutes. Do not let the butter burn! Only brown enough till you can smell nuttiness.

13.  Sift powdered sugar into a stand mixer bowl and add the scraped vanilla bean pods. Gently mix together with a whisk attachment.  Once brown butter is cooled, add to the mixer bowl and begin to combine together. Mixture will be very thick.

14.  Slowly add in 1 tablespoon of buttermilk and 1 tablespoon of half and half. Watch consistency so frosting isn’t too runny. Whip it on high till the butter and sugar come together. These will be used to pipe decorations so should be able to hold shape. If butter is too hot then put in the fridge for a minute. When it has the consistency of buttercream, take out about 1 cup and divide into two bowls. The remaining frosting will be thinned and used to pour over the cake whiles still hot.

15.  Color the separated frosting with red & green the place into piping bags with couplers and wilton #66 tip (green) and a wilton #3 tip (red).

16.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and pipe as many holly plants on there. Make sure it’s thick enough to remove later. Place back into the freezer until ready to decorate on the cake.

17.  With remaining frosting, add more buttermilk and half/half until mixture is thick but pourable. If mixture is still too thick and cannot be poured, add a little more milk, if it becomes too thin, add more sugar.

18.  Once cake is complete, remove from oven and allow to cool in the pan on a cooling rack for 10 minutes. Shake to ensure cake isn’t stuck to the pan. Invert the cake to the cooling rack and unmold from the pan.

19.  If you're in a rush, place cake in freezer for at least 15 minutes to cool. Or allow to properly cool on the wire rack until it’s warm to touch.

20.  Pour glaze on top of cake while sitting on cooling rack with a flat cookie sheet underneath. Careful, icing may drip heavily depending on how warm cake is. Allow the cake to come to room temp.

21.  Place completely cooled cake on presentation plate then decorate with buttercream holly designs.  Don't put the decorations on too early or they will melt!