cherry & cocoa buttercream pavlova stack

cherry pav3

It’s starting to get hot. Summer in the South is certainly intense. We splashed in the pool yesterday and it was 95 degrees…in the WATER.

When the summer heat rolls around, I like to bake light but still satisfyingly sweet desserts. Having the oven roaring on high heat is not the most ideal situation, so if baking must occur, let’s have it be on low.

This Cherry and Cocoa Buttercream Pavlova resembles a towering cake, but is made from light and airy meringues. The best part is the meringues cook low and slow in the oven for a few hours, so you can get busy relaxing (oxymoron). The freshly made cocoa buttercream takes about 5 minutes to whip up and utilizes the most basic of baking ingredients. The only ingredient I had to make a grocery store run for was the cherries! If you have stone fruit or berries in the house, use them instead and it will still be as fresh and stunning as mine.


I’ve been on a food photography journey.

If you know me, you know that I have a very time consuming (but incredible) full time job as a director of a center that provides Applied Behavior Analysis to individuals with Autism. Yes, it is as rewarding and wonderful as it sounds.

I started food photography after receiving my Masters degree since I had so much time to spare and was not sure what to do with it. My photography has evolved from iPhone photos to paid photo shoots using a DSLR.

A few years ago my hobby became a part-time jobby when I became a Food Writer for a local newspaper. After work I would rush to a local restaurant to meet the chef, take some pictures and nosh on the newest food in Savannah. Post photo editing and writing my articles, that are more features than reviews, took multiple hours of my weekend.

I am currently taking a break from food writing, to focus on my job, house renovations and “me” time. In my me time this weekend, I got to bake and take photos of my own food, which brings me so much joy and satisfaction. My free time has been so limited, so this part of my pastime has taken a back seat.

cherry pav2

This collection of photos represents yet another new chapter for me. I have had Light Room for over a year now and did not make time to learn how to use it. Instead, I used a free program that I downloaded YEARS ago when it all began. Finally, this weekend, I made some time to learn Light Room and am loving it.

My husband is so surprised that photographers edit photos, he feels like it’s cheating. But we photographers know that there is more to editing. There is composition, cropping, angles, props, lighting, backdrops and so much more. Editing is that final touch.

All my photos today are edited in Light Room and this is just the beginning for me. I have so much to learn and am looking forward to the process.

cherry pav4



  • 6 large egg whites, at room temperature
  • Dash of kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 2/3 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons plus 2 tsp. cornstarch

Cocoa Buttercream Frosting

  • 6 Tbsp. butter, softened
  • 2 2/3 cups, confectioners sugar
  • 1/2 cup Ghirardelli unsweetened Cocoa
  • 1/3 cup milk or coconut milk
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract


  • 1 cup cherries, seeds and stems removed


  • Step 1: Preheat oven to 250°F.
  • Step 2: Prepare meringues: Beat egg whites and salt with an electric mixer fitted with whisk attachment on medium-high speed until foamy. Add cream of tartar; beat until soft peaks form.
  • Step 3:  Whisk together sugar, cornstarch, and vanilla in a second small bowl. Gradually add sugar mixture to egg white mixture, beating on medium-high speed until stiff, shiny peaks form, about 5 minutes (do not overbeat).
  • Step 4: Line one 9×13 baking sheet with parchment paper and spread or pipe meringue mixture into 4 (6-inch) circles on prepared baking sheets. Bake at 250°F 1 hour and 15 minutes. Turn oven off, and open oven door just slightly. Let meringues stand in oven 30 minutes.
  • Step 5: Prepare frosting: In stand mixer, beat butter until light and fluffy.  In separate bowl, mix together sugar and cocoa powder. Blend sugar mixture with butter, alternating with milk, beating well after each addition.  Beat until smooth. Blend in vanilla.
  • Step 6: Assemble the pavlova cake: Place 1 meringue round on a cake stand or platter. Spread or pipe with a thin layer of frosting, and top with some cherries. Top with second meringue round. Repeat with all layers.  Serve immediately.

cherry pav1