An Australian classic made vegan using the magic of aquafaba (chickpea water). Crisp meringue embedded with pistachios, topped with pillowy vanilla whipped coconut cream, berries tossed with golden saffron sugar, crunchy-tart passionfruit, and an extra scattering of pistachios. Delish!
Pavlova With Saffron Berries, Passionfruit, and Pistachios [Vegan, Gluten-Free]
For the Meringue:
- 1 cup fine sugar (can be raw fine sugar)
- 1 tablespoon arrowroot starch
- A pinch fine grain sea salt
- Aquafaba (liquid from can of unsalted chickpeas, chilled)
- 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
- 1/2 cup pistachios, finely chopped
For the Whipped Coconut Cream:
- 2 cans chilled coconut milk/cream (leave in the refrigerator overnight or longer if you can)
- About 3–4 tablespoons of raw granulated sugar (add less to begin with then add more to taste towards the end of whipping)
- 1-2 vanilla beans, seeds scraped (or 2 teaspoon vanilla bean paste)
For the Saffron Berries:
- About 5 cups prepared (i.e. strawberries hulled and sliced, cherries pitted etc.) mixed berries & cherries
- 1/4 teaspoon/pinch saffron threads
- 3 tablespoons raw sugar
- Zest of 1 lemon
- Crack or two of black pepper (finely ground)
- Pulp of about 5-6 passionfruits
- 2 tablespoons pistachios, chopped
To Make the Meringue:
- Preheat the oven to 275°F . Draw an 8-inch circle on a piece of baking paper using a cake tin as a guide, flip the paper over and line a large baking tray with it. In a small bowl, mix together the sugar, arrowroot starch, and salt. Set aside.
- Pour the chilled chickpea liquid (aquafaba) into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Add the apple cider vinegar and beat at low speed, gradually increasing the speed to high. Beat for a few minutes, until the chickpea liquid is fluffy, quadrupled in size and has formed soft peaks. Turn the speed down to medium-high and start adding the sugar 1 tablespoon at a time, continuing until it has all been incorporated.
- Once all of the sugar has been added, increase the speed back to high. Continue to beat until stiff, very glossy peaks form and hold their shape.
- To test if the meringue has been whisked for long enough, remove the bowl from the mixer and turn it upside down, the meringue should stay in place. If not, continue beating until it passes this test. Once it has been properly whisked, stop the mixer and add the vanilla and almond extracts, beat for another minute on high until incorporated. Remove the bowl from the mixer and gently fold through the chopped pistachios.
- Quickly scoop the meringue into the center of the drawn circle on your prepared baking paper/baking tray. Using a spatula, spread the meringue around to fill the circle, piling it higher around the edge to form a kind of moat for when you add your fillings to the center later. You can use a spoon to create a larger nest in the center if needed (it does puff up quite a bit whilst baking, so create a bigger divet in the middle than you think).
- Put the prepared meringue in the oven on the middle rack, and immediately turn the temperature down to 250°F. Bake for 2 1/2-3 hours, or until the outside is dry to the touch and sounds hollow when tapped lightly. Turn the oven off and leave the pavlova inside to cool completely.
To Make the Whipped Coconut Cream:
- Scoop the thick, creamy part off the top of the chilled coconut milk/cream tins (save the watery bit for smoothies etc...) and place in a large mixing bowl. Add 3 tablespoons of the sugar and the vanilla bean seeds. Whisk together with a handheld electric whisk until the cream is fluffy and forms soft peaks. Taste the whipped cream now and add a little more sugar if desired until it is sweet enough for your liking. Continue to whip the cream a little longer until stiff peaks just begin to form.
- Use straight away or keep covered in the fridge until you are ready to serve — give it a little whisk to fluff it back up before serving.
To Make the Berries:
- Bash together the saffron threads with the 3 tablespoons sugar in a mortar and pestle (or blitz together in a food processor) until the saffron threads are mostly broken up and mixed with the sugar. Stir in the lemon zest and the black pepper and rub into the sugar with your fingertips until combined and fragrant, it should be a golden yellow color. Toss the saffron sugar with the mixed berries and allow to sit for 10 minutes or so before assembling.
- Carefully remove the meringue from the baking paper and place on a serving plate. Top with the whipped cream, followed by the saffron berries (leaving most of the berry juice behind), then the passionfruit pulp and the pistachios. Serve immediately (this is not something that keeps well, it becomes soft and soggy rather quickly once topped with the cream and berries. So only assemble it at the very last minute.