Summer is all about abundance when it comes to fresh and local produces, am I right? And if you’re a berry lover like me, you know it’s time to fully take advantage of perfectly ripe berries, whether from a farmers' markets or by picking some yourself. Either you eat them straight like that or transform them to enjoy later during the year. Or both!
Today’s Pavlova is basically a hymn to summer berries! The light and airy meringue base is filled with creamy coconut whipped cream and then topped with a profusion of red berries and a generous drizzle of raspberry & strawberry coulis. If the thought of making (vegan) meringue scares you, I’ll try to convince you othewise. After checking more recipes and different techniques, I’ve come up with an updated and better version of my aquafaba meringue recipe. Making meringue just needs a little bit of patience, plus the right ingredients and tools. And a little bit of love of course!
Sponsorship disclaimer (ad): I partnered with Paderno Kitchenware to bring you this recipe today on the blog, using their Power Blender and Hand Mixer. And to be honest, I was more than pleased with the high-quality of these appliances. Not only do they offer the right precision control I need when I’m cooking, they are also lovely to the eye and will make any cooking moments more enjoyable. Find more details about these Appliances on Paderno website here www.paderno.com.
I bet most of you already know what aquafaba is. But just in case, here’s a recap for you. Aquafaba is basically the water in which beans (usually chickpeas) are cooked. You can get it directly from a can of storebought chickpeas (or similar white beans: lima beans, cannellini beans, Navy beans, Great Northern beans, etc.) or by cooking dry chickpeas yourself and then reducing the cooking water by one third or more. Slightly viscous and clouded, it can then replace eggs in many recipes, such as in cakes, vegan mayo…. or even meringue! When beaten long enough with a hand or stand mixer, it will literally act like white eggs and turn into beautiful stiff white peaks. And don’t worry, it won’t taste like beans at all!
Now that we’ve clarified what aquafaba is, our egg white substitute, let’s talk about sugars and other ingredients. I’ve tried making meringue with different types of sugars:
regular granulated cane sugar
confectioner’s sugar (with added cornstarch)
powdered sugar (basically just like confectioner’s sugar, but without cornstarch; it is also called icing sugar)
superfine sugar (refined white sugar, but finer; also called caster sugar)
Confectioner’s, powdered and icing sugar are sometimes intertwined depending where you live on the planet. Either way, it’s always some sort of powdery sugar with or without the addition of cornstarch.
Many meringue recipes will call for powdery kinds of sugar (confectioner’s, powdered or icing sugars), with or without the addition of cornstarch. Personally, my best results were with superfine sugar (not powdered), without any added cornstarch, but with the addition of xanthan gum. Xanthum gum will make your meringue super fluffy, giving it a very marshmallowy texture. Finally, your other main ingredient is cream of tartar. You need a very small quantity, but it is essential to stabilize your meringue.
Now that we have sorted out the ingredients, let’s dive into the recipe!
200 ml of aquafaba
½ tsp of cream of tartar
1 ¼ cup of caster sugar (superfine)
¼ tsp of ground vanilla
1 tsp of xantham gum
A clean bowl, either in glass or stainless steel.
A hand mixer, with the whisk (I used Paderno’s 10 speeds Hand Mixer here; its digital timer makes it easier to time the mixing process of the meringue while slowly increasing the power of the beating. Cause when it comes to meringue, there’s no need to rush the process. It might take time to get to those perfect stiff peaks, but don’t rush it.)
A baking sheet with parchment paper. Even tho I prefer using reusable cooking mats, they have a tendency to absorb oils, which will interact with your meringue in a way you really don’t want.
Optional: a pastry/piping bag with tips
Preheat your oven at 250ºF..
Pour your aquafaba in your clean bowl, add the cream of tartar and start whisking 3 to 5 minutes on medium speed, until foam appears. Slowly increase the speed of your beating to high and whisk for an additional 5 to 10 minutes, until you get stiff peaks.
One tablespoon at a time, slowly add the sugar to your bowl while continuing whisking your meringue in between each additional spoon. Once all the sugar has been added, make sure the sugar is fully dissolved by rubbing some meringue between your fingers.
Add the ground vanilla and the xanthum gum to your meringue and whisk for an extra 30 seconds.
Shaping your pavlova: you either can spoon your meringue mixture directly on your baking sheet and shape it with a spoon or an icing spatula. Or transfer the mixture in a pastry bag and pipe it in a more fancy shape. If you have extra meringue mixture and feel like doing so, you can make extra small meringues to use as toppings for your pavlova.
Transfer your baking sheet in the oven and bake it for 1h15. Turn off the oven and let your pavlova in the oven for at least another extra 30 minutes.
While your meringue is baking, it’s time to make your berry coulis! Here I decided to use raspberries and strawberries, but you can use any other berry you like, either blueberries or blackberries, haskap berries or black currants, etc. I prefer making it with seasonal fresh berries, but frozen berries will do the trick too, just let them completely thaw before using them.
½ cup cane sugar
3 tablespoon water
1 ½ cup of fresh raspberries
1 ½ cup of fresh strawberries
In a small saucepan at low heat, mix the sugar and the water together until the sugar crystals are fully dissolved. You will get some sort of thick syrup. Set aside.
In your blender, combine together the fresh berries and the syrup. Blend the ingredients for 30 seconds or so, until the mixture is smooth and puréed, but without over mixing it. You want to strain the purée to be able to remove all the berry seeds, but you won’t be able to do so if you over blend it. Using Paderno Power Blender makes this part super fast, but depending of your blender, you might need a little bit more time or so to achieve the same result.
Pour the mixture through a fine-mesh strainer placed over a bowl. Stir and push with the back of a spatula or wooden spoon until all the coulis has been extracted. This might takes several minutes to get through all the thick purée.
Discard the seeds and pour the coulis in a jar. Store it in the fridge up to a week or freeze it. If you’re like me, you’ll want to drizzle this coulis over your banana ice cream, your granola & yogourt bowl or on a piece of chocolate cake or brownie! Yummm!
Coconut Whipped Cream
2 cans of coconut milk, chilled overnight in the fridge
½ tsp of xanthan gum
¼ tsp of ground vanilla
In a bowl, scoop the hard part of the coconut milk and reserve the liquid/water part for other uses.
Using the whisk of your hand mixer, start beating the coconut cream, slowly increasing the power.
Add the xanthan gum and ground vanilla and continue whisking until smooth. Use right away or keep chilled in the fridge.
Assemble your pavlova
You will need extra fresh berries to top your pavlova. But you can also top it with fresh mint and/or basil leaves, chocolate shavings, mini meringues, etc.
Place your meringue base on a plate or cake stand.
Spoon the coconut cream and spread it evenly on your meringue.
Add berries generously over the coconut cream.
Pour in generous drizzles your berry coulis.
Optional: top with fresh mint leaves and extra mini meringues.
Et voilà! Serve and enjoy your pavlova right away, cause unfortunately, it’s not the kind of dessert that will stay beautiful for long. Since meringue reacts to humidity, it will eventually melt with all those toppings. But it will still be super yummy, nevertheless!