Vegan Pavlova with Saffron Berries Passionfruit + Pistachios {gf}

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An Australian Christmas 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. 

Pavlova. An Australian Christmas would not be complete without one. It’s tradition, just as a Christmas pudding is tradition in England. Trifle plays it’s part here sure, but I was never particularly keen on the jelly, custard and sponge cake dessert, it was just too mushy and so-so. No, trifle was never for me, Pavlova is it. It’s the Queen of Christmas. The thing I stare at all through Christmas lunch, waiting to dive into, then going back for seconds of the crispy meringue, pillowy whipped cream and tart fruit.

It’s a point of Australian pride, making a good ‘pav’. Though I know the New Zealanders would contest that the pavlova is in fact theirs and that we in Australia only wish that it was ours, we stick steadfastly to the fact that we were the creators of this fluffy tower of joy (though actually google tells me that New Zealand has won that battle – we can agree to disagree google). We feel, quite fiercely, as though we own it. And just as with the ‘ownership’ of Russell Crowe, or the Flat White coffee, It will forever be a point of contention between Australians and New Zealanders. I can’t blame us for our incessant arguing, it’s a dessert worth fighting over. Every year that I can remember since I was a little girl, my mum has made a pavlova for Christmas. I’d sit watching in awe as she piled the cream onto the meringue, then the berries, a few of which would inevitably topple over onto the big white serving platter, staining it red, black and blue. The passionfruit pulp would be spooned over next, the tart, crunchy seeds a perfect counterpoint to the sweet lightness of it all. Then we’d dig in.

Sometimes I was allowed to help with the assembly, invariably though i’d just end up stealing spoonfuls of cream and berries until mum caught me out and sent me away. The meringue was always pure alchemy in my mind; how that little puddle of egg white combined with just sugar could whip up into something so ethereal, and then be baked till it was sweet and crispy with a marshmallow-y middle – magic. Perhaps it’s just that I associate pavlova with the magic of Christmas, but it has always been a dessert that I wonder at.

Needless to say I have never wondered at it more than when, after missing out on pavlova at Christmas one year after going vegan, I learned that chickpea brine (aquafaba) of all things could be whipped up in the same way as egg whites to create the crispy pavlova of my dreams! Combined with fluffy vanilla bean coconut cream and berries, I was just as smitten with this dessert as I was with the egg-based version. As far as i know, no one has worked out how to achieve that marshmallow-y middle as of yet (and neither have I), but I honestly didn’t miss it in the aquafaba version. The crunchy snow-white meringue, fluffy cream & sweet fruit is where i’m at. To take it to the next level, i’ve added chopped pistachios to the meringue for a nutty crunch, golden saffron sugar with a little lemon zest and a hint of black pepper to the berries and topped it all off with extra pistachios and the classic passion fruit pulp.

I’ve adapted the recipe from the excellent version on Pickles & Honey – I only made a few changes to the meringue itself (added pistachios & almond extract, changed a few little things in the method). They have some wonderful tips over there on making the perfect vegan meringue if you’d like some extra instruction. I made four medium meringues out of this recipe. Let them cool completely in the oven before taking out. Through trial and error I have learned that with vegan meringues, it’s far easier to make smaller meringues. Bigger ones just seem to collapse way too easily.

I plan on making this for all of my Christmas gatherings this year, if I test out any flavour variations i’ll post them on instagram for some extra inspiration. I would love to try out a mango version of this, maybe with a little lime zest. I think it would be incredible (and I currently have a tray of 20 mangoes ripening on my table, waiting to be used up in a million delicious ways), and I’m really feeling cocoa powder in the meringue with just berries on top and maybe some cardamom or perhaps just some passionfruit curd spooned over the top of the cream and meringue…AH. The possibilites are endless.

5 from 1 vote

Vegan Pavlova with Saffron Berries, Passionfruit + Pistachios {GF}

vegan, dairy‐free, egg‐free, gf, soy‐free
Meringue recipe adapted slightly from Pickles & Honey. An Australian Christmas 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.
Servings 6

Ingredients

meringue

  • 1 cup vegan fine sugar I used fine raw sugar
  • 1 tbsp arrowroot starch
  • pinch fine grain sea salt
  • liquid from one 400g can of unsalted chickpeas chilled
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract*
  • 1/2 cup pistachios finely chopped (optional)

coconut cream

  • 2 tins chilled coconut milk/cream leave in the fridge overnight or longer if you can**
  • about 3–4 tbsp 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 tsp. vanilla bean paste)

saffron berries

  • 700 g / about 5 cups prepared i.e. strawberries hulled and sliced, cherries pitted etc. mixed berries & cherries
  • 1/4 tsp / pinch saffron threads
  • 3 tbsp raw sugar
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • crack or two of black pepper finely ground

assembly

  • pulp of about 5–6 passionfruit
  • 2 tbsp lightly toasted pistachios, chopped

Instructions

make the meringue

  • Preheat the oven to 135 C / 275 F . Draw 4 10cm circles on 2 pieces of baking paper, flip the paper over and line 2 large baking trays 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 sloooooowly, one tblsp. 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 extract, 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 circles on your prepared baking paper / baking trays. 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 meringues in the oven on the middle rack, and immediately turn the temperature down to 120 C / 250 F. Bake for 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.

whip 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 tbsp 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 (I actually think it tastes better after it's been chilled for an hour or so, the flavour of the vanilla really shines through if you let it chill out for a bit!) — give it a little whisk to fluff it back up before serving.

mix berries

  • Bash together the saffron threads with the 3 tbsp. 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 colour. Toss the saffron sugar with the mixed berries and allow to sit for 10 minutes or so before assembling.

assemble

  • Carefully remove the meringues from the baking paper and place on a serving plate (you can make 2 separate pavlovas or stack them with filling in between as I have done here). 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!

Vegan Pavlova with Saffron Berries, Passionfruit & Pistachio | The Floured Kitchen
Vegan Pavlova with Saffron Berries, Passionfruit & Pistachio | The Floured Kitchen

Join the Conversation

  1. This is absolutely STUNNING!!!! It looks like a dream.

    1. Thank you so much Laurel! I didn’t want to eat it because it looked so pretty, it tasted even better than it looked though, so it was worth ruining it haha!

  2. Caroline says:

    5 stars
    This is beyond gorgeous!!! So glad I came across your beautiful site! Do you know how I should keep the merengue sundial assembly. I have to prepare a few days in advance and I don’t want it to fall and deflate! Thanks!!

    1. Thanks so very much Caroline! <3 I'm not sure how well it will last for a few days, meringues tend to become soft / weepy after a day or two where I am, though I think that's largely thanks to the high humidity here. You could try storing it in an airtight container as soon as they are completely cool and keep it at room temp in a cool place. If it's not too humid where you are it should be ok. Hope it works out for you!

  3. Honey Debney-Succoia says:

    Just a heads up… don’t use oil based extracts as I did – it completely collapses the mixture!! Shan’t be making that mistake again, oops!

    1. Thank you for that! I’ll add a note into the recipe 🙂 So sad that it collapsed, hopefully you have better luck with it next time! <3

  4. Aimee says:

    I’m going to make this on Monday and I need to feed about 16 people – should I double up? I’m not sure how many this recipe feeds – thanks 🙂

  5. I love the use of aquafaba in this recipe! I have yet to play with it but this looks and sounds like the perfect recipe to do so!!

    1. Hi Kasey thanks so much for your comment 🙂 It is a good recipe to showcase the magic of aquafaba! Let me know if you give it a try. Bek x

  6. Julie says:

    Hi! Trying to make this beautiful dessert right now! Are you really making only 2 circles of 10cm? This would make very small pavlovas, and we have way too much mix to make only 2 small meringues!

  7. Sanskriti says:

    Hey can I know the exact amount of aquafaba in this recipe?

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