If summer were a dessert it would, hands down, be this. This vegan pavlova is sweet, crisp, fresh and bright all at the same time, and can be made ahead of time - making it the ideal dinner party dessert.
Making vegan meringue based desserts, like Pavlova, can feel extremely intimidating, at least to me. Meringues are typically made with egg whites, which are in themselves very fragile and require a lot of control. When replacing them in vegan baking, a similar amount of control is necessary. When it comes to meringues and meringue-adjacent desserts, like Pavlova, success is almost all in the texture, which is nearly impossible to assess until the very end of baking and cooling, and by that point you’ve already given you heart and soul to the process for a good few hours.
There are a few things I always do to minimise any risk of a deflated, sticky meringue or pavlova. The first is to reduce the main ingredient a.k.a the water from a tin of chickpeas a.k.a aquafaba a.k.a our “egg whites”, in a small pan for 8-10 minutes. Reducing the aquafaba is what gets the liquid as close to the structure of egg whites as possible and removes any excess liquid that could cause the pavlova to leak as soon as it hits the oven, deflating it immediately.
Temperature control is extremely important to prevent a sticky, chewy texture (and not chewy in a good way). Although it’s tempting, try your hardest to not open the oven door while the pavlova is baking and don’t be tempted to quicken the process by letting the pavlova come to room temperature on the counter instead of the oven. That’s because meringue based desserts require a gradual cool down, and sudden changes of temperature from room temperature air can cause cracking, deflating and softening (rather than crisping).
90 mins (+ cooling)
2 x 400g tin of chickpeas
½ tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp cornstarch
⅛ tsp xanthan gum
200g caster sugar
¼ tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
280ml plant based whipping cream (we used Oatly)
400g berries, sliced
1 tbsp (15ml) lemon juice
4 tbsp (60g) caster sugar
Place a strainer over a saucepan. Use the strainer to drain the chickpeas, ensuring all of the liquid from the tins (aquafaba) makes its way into the saucepan.
Heat the saucepan over medium heat and bring the aquafaba to a simmer. Simmer the aquafaba for 8-10 minutes, until it has reduced by half.
Preheat the oven to 170˚C fan/190˚C conventional and line a large tray with parchment paper.
Transfer the reduced aquafaba into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment or a large mixing bowl. Add the cream of tartar, cornstarch and xanthan gum.
Quickly turn the mixer on - or use an electric whisk - and whip the aquafaba for 8-10 minutes on high speed, until it reaches soft peaks.
With the mixer running on medium speed, add 100g of sugar, and mix until it has been incorporated - around 30 seconds.
Add the remaining 100g of sugar and beat the aquafaba for 5-6 minutes, until it reaches very stiff peaks. If you hold a spatula or spoon up with a scoop of the pavlova mixture and turn it faced-down, nothing should fall off or move.
Add the vanilla and salt, and beat the mixture for 1 more minute.
Spoon the pavlova mixture onto the centre of the prepared tray, and use a spatula or spoon to spread it into a circle. While you’re making the circle, aim to create a dip in the centre - this will hold the cream later on.
Transfer the tray into the oven, and immediately lower the heat to 95˚C fan/115˚C conventional. Bake the pavlova for 90-100 minutes, until it looks firm and dry.
Turn the oven off, and let the pavlova come to room temperature in the oven, this takes 2-3 hours. Try to avoid opening the oven door at any point - it’s the key to a crisp, rather than sticky texture.
While the pavlova is coming to room temperature, prepare the berries. In a large bowl, combine the berries, lemon and sugar. Let the berries sit for at least 30-45 minutes, where they will macerate and become juicy and saucy.
Before serving, prepare the whipped cream. Use a stand mixer or an electric mixer to whip the cream for 7-10 minutes (depending on which type of cream you are using).
Transfer the baked and cooled pavlova onto a serving dish. Fill the middle with the whipped cream and top it with the berries.
Serve immediately! If you’re making this ahead of time, keep all of the elements separate until you’re ready to serve.
By Valentina Concordia
Valentina is our Food Editor, who dreams up our tasty dishes and recipes for our social channels. She has loads of experience cooking up a storm in Italian kitchens, so it’s no surprise she can’t live without good-quality olive oil (don’t come between her and her olive oil) and fresh pasta.