A few years back I read a book which took place in Australia. They kept talking about a dessert called pavlova. I’m usually pretty solid with food trivia, but pavlova was a new one for me. Apparently this dessert was named after Russia ballerina Anna Pavlova. It is a light meringue with a crispy crust, typically topped with whipped cream and fresh fruit or berries. This dessert dish is common in the summer time and is popular for a Christmas treat.
In my continuing effort to give popular dishes a healthy makeover, pavlova seemed like the perfect option for my first aquafaba experiment. It took a few attempts, but I managed to make my version with coconut sugar instead of white sugar, so not only is this vegan, but it is also lower in sugar and refined sugar free. I topped the pavlova with coconut whipped cream so anyone who may be vegan or have a dairy allergy would be able to enjoy it. Weather can play a factor in getting the texture just right, but on this hot and humid summer day, I found delicious success and hope you do as well.
(makes about 6 individual servings)
A few notes before you begin:
- To make aquafaba simply save the liquid drained from either canned or homemade chickpeas. I like to run mine through a strainer before using.
- Traditional pavlova calls for icing sugar or fine grain sugar. Since I wanted to use coconut sugar, I ran my pre-measured sugar through my vitamix, to make it as fine as possible.
- Use pure vanilla extract only, so it is alcohol base instead of oil base.
- Be sure your bowl and mixer attachment is very clean and dry before you begin.
- Prep and measure everything in advance so you can work quickly.
- Prepare your baking sheet in advance. I traced a cup onto my parchment paper 6 times, then flipped it over, to make a template to work on.
- 1 cup aquafaba, chilled
- ¾ cup coconut sugar
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- Preheat oven to 225°.
- Pour aquafaba into mixing bowl. Mix on low for 1 minute (I used a Kitchenaid stand mixer but you could also use a hand held mixer).
- After 1 minute turn the speed to medium high. When medium peaks form (this happened after about 2 minutes for me) add the lemon juice.
- Turn speed to high. When stiff peaks start to form turn back to medium high and add sugar with vanilla extract mixed in, 1 tablespoon at a time. You do not want to rush this step. Wait about 30 seconds between adding tablespoons.
- Turn speed back to high and mix for about 1 minute more to ensure sugar is combined and dissolved.
- Work quickly to get mixture onto the prepared pan. You can spoon it on or pipe it onto your template.
- Place pan in oven and reduce the heat to 200° degrees.
- Bake for 2 hours. Do not open door and try to avoid big movements (stomping, running, slamming doors, etc.) that may cause pavlova to fall. After 2 hours, turn oven off leaving pavlova inside for another hour.
- Remove from oven and place on a cooling rack. Once cool, gently remove from parchment paper and place on serving plate.
- Very gently top with coconut whipped cream (homemade or store bought) and fresh fruit. These do not hold up for long and will get soggy if made in advance. Wait until the last minute to top before serving.