2 cups dark pitted sour or morello cherries, drained
1/4 cup cherry brandy
2 cinnamon sticks
6 whole cloves
Cornflour for dusting
6 egg whites
1 1/2 cups caster sugar
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
450g dark chocolate, chopped
2 1/4 cups thickened cream
fresh cherries for decoration
1. Place cherries, brandy, cinnamon sticks and cloves in a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and leave for several hours or overnight.
2. Preheat oven to 150 degrees C and line 3 baking trays with non-stick baking paper. Draw a 20cm circle on each sheet and sprinkle lightly with cornflour.
3. Beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Gradually add sugar and continue beating until the sugar has dissolved.
4. Beat in the cocoa.
5. Spread the meringue evenly over the circles and bake for 1 hour. Leave the meringues in the oven with the door open slightly and until they are cool.
6. Place 200g chocolate and 1/4 cup of cream in a small heatproof bowl and stand over a pan of simmering water. Stir until the chocolate has melted and the mixture is smooth. Allow to cool slightly before spreading it evenly over the three meringues.
7. Beat the remaining cream until firm and spread over one meringue and top with half the drained cherries. Place a second layer of meringue on top and repeat the first layer steps. Place the last layer on top and spread with the remaining cream.
8. Melt the remaining chocolate and spread in a thin layer over a cool surface and using the edge of a sharp knife at a 45 degree angle, scrape thin strips of chocolate - they should curl.
9. Decorate the pavlova with fresh cherries and chocolate curls.