I have to be honest. Before this summer, I had never heard of a pavlova before. Then I saw them popping up on the interwebs loaded with beautiful summer berries, and I had to inspect further. Named after Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova, a traditional pavlova is a meringue dessert that is crisp on the outside and light and soft on the inside. Topped with whipped cream and fruit, it is transformed into a perfectly imperfect beauty.
I missed the boat on making a summer berry pavlova, but this pumpkin spice pavlova compliments the autumn leaves and cool air that has wrapped itself around us recently. The meringue is slightly darker in color than traditional white pavlovas, due to the use of unrefined sucanat in place of regular white sugar. The sucanat gives a wonderful hint of molasses to the meringues. This balances nicely with the pumpkin and spices added to the coconut whipped cream.
Instead of making one large pavlova, I decided to stack three smaller meringue rounds. Each layer of whipped cream is then topped with homemade honey-sweetened chocolate sauce. For a finishing touch, the pavlova stack is sprinkled with cacao nibs for an extra bit of crunch.
Pavlovas are sweet to be sure and this one does not disappoint. Great for sharing, this makes a decadent dessert for brunches, dinner gatherings, and holiday parties. And the gluten, dairy, and refined sugar will not be missed!
Pumpkin Spice Pavlova (gluten-free, dairy-free + refined sugar-free)
- 6 egg whites
- pinch of salt
- 1 teaspoon white distilled vinegar
- 1/2 tablespoon arrowroot starch or cornstarch
- 1 cup organic sucanat blitzed in blender for a superfine consistency
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
For Pumpkin Spice Coconut Whipped Cream
- 1 can coconut milk full fat, refrigerated overnight
- 1/3 cup canned pumpkin I used Trader Joe's organic canned pumpkin
- 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
- pinch of ground cloves optional
- 1 tablespoon honey
For Honey-Sweetened Dark Chocolate Sauce
- 1/2 cup coconut oil melted
- 1/3 cup honey
- 1/2 cup organic cacao powder cocoa powder works also
Preheat oven to 275 degrees. To make 3 six-inch round meringues, mark the perimeter of two sheets of parchment with a pencil, measure with a ruler or tracing a six-inch plate. Flip parchment over and line two baking sheets.
In a medium bowl, beat egg whites and salt with an electric or stand mixer until soft, white peaks form on low to medium setting. Add distilled vinegar and continue to beat on medium until incorporated. Slowly add in sucanat and arrowroot starch in batches until sucanat has dissolved. Add vanilla extract. Continue to beat on medium until stiff peaks form.
Using a spatula, form 3 six-inch rounds amongst baking sheets, making sure to create a slight well in center. Bake for 50-60 minutes. The pavlovas are done when the outside is dry to the touch and slightly browned. Turn off oven and crack oven door open. Allow meringues to cool completely before removing from oven.
To make pumpkin spice coconut whipped cream, scoop out firm, waxy layer into a medium bowl, stopping once you hit the liquid below. Beat with an electric mixer on medium until it starts to thicken. Beat in pumpkin, then add spices and honey. Beat until combined and mixture resembles a whipped consistency. Cover and place in fridge until ready to assemble pavola.
To make honey-sweetened dark chocolate sauce, whisk melted coconut oil, cacao powder, and honey in small bowl. Place in airtight, glass container in fridge until ready to assemble pavlovas. If you have refrigerated chocolate sauce prior to assembling pavlovas, heat in microwave for about 30 seconds, or as needed, to bring back to liquid state.
To assemble pavlovas, place one meringue on platter or small cake stand. Spread pumpkin spice coconut whipped cream on top of meringue. Follow by spreading chocolate sauce on top of whip (if you reheated it, make sure it has cooled enough not to melt whip). Place second meringue on top and repeat with whipped cream and chocolate sauce. Place third meringue on top of that layer, spread with whipped cream and sprinkle with cacao nibs. Serve immediately. Enjoy!