Aquafaba Chocolate Pavlova (Vegan, Gluten-Free)
A vegan version of the popular chocolate pavlova cake using aquafaba. Naturally gluten-free this delicious dessert is a crowd pleaser!
- 1 can chickpeas
- 1 cup sugar (I've used white and coconut)
- 1 tbsp arrowroot powder
- 1 tsp vinegar (I used ACV)
- 1 tsp vanilla powder
- 1/4 cup cacao powder (can sub cocoa) optional
- 1 pinch salt
- 1 can coconut cream
Preheat oven to 275 degrees and prepare a large baking dish by lining it with parchment paper. Combine the sugar and arrowroot powder in a small bowl, stir to incorporate
Pour the chickpea brine and vinegar into a large bowl and start whisking on low for a few minutes then high. You'll start to see soft peaks forming after about five minutes.
On medium-high if your electric whisk has that setting (otherwise keep it on high) add the sugar/arrowroot mixture two tbsp at a time, whisking until well incorporated after each addition and continuing until all the mixture is added. Add in the salt and continue to whisk.
Whisk on high for about 5 more minutes or until you see stiff glossy peaks forming.
When the aquafaba is whisked enough that you could turn the bowl upside down and it wouldn't move or fall out, whisk in the cacao and vanilla powder. Mixture won't look very dark, just speckled.
Using a soft spatula, create and fill three even circles with the whipped aquafaba on your parchment paper of about 7-8 inches in diameter each. You should use up all of the aquafaba from the bowl.
Immediately place in the oven and reduce temp to 250F. Leave them in the oven for 2-2.5 hours or until the outside is dry and the middle looks firm.
Turn off the oven and let the pavlova cool (in the oven if possible).
Make the whipped coconut cream: Scoop the cream into a medium sized bowl and whip for about 3 minutes or until fluffy. Add one or two teaspoons of powdered sugar if you'd like (I find it too sweet with the meringue), and put cream between each layer of meringue right away. If cream is left sitting out it'll become hard to spread, you may want to refrigerate and re-whip when ready to use. Top with whatever you'd like, nuts, fruit, chocolate shavings, and eat immediately!
Pavlova is a beautiful thing. Not necessarily beautiful to look at (unless you’re great at making perfectly even meringue layers), but beautiful to taste. The chocolate meringue is crispy on the outside, light and fluffy on the inside, with enough sugar to satisfy any sweet tooth.
Between each layer of meringue is a healthy spread of cream, (coconut cream in this case to keep it vegan) and nestled in between the layers of cream and meringue you can hide all sorts of things, my favorite being fresh berries!
If you look closely you’ll see that this particular pavlova has a layer of my beet berry jam spread for an extra hidden veggie boost and a pop of color!
The first time I had a proper pavlova was in Croatia a few years ago. I won a free flight on a KitKat wrapper (story for another day) and so I hopped on the plane right after I finished college exams with my mom! It just so happened that our trip fell around her birthday so I made sure to contact the Airbnb we stayed in and asked the owner if she’d be able to have a birthday cake there for when we arrived.
You can probably guess that it was a pavlova cake and oh my god was it amazing! I still think about that cake today – I remember sitting outside in the sun in Dubrovnik taking in the old city architecture trying to not totally devour the delicious pile of meringue and cream and berries. Not sure if the cake or the city made more of an impression on me.
It was perfectly light and decadent at the same time, exactly what you want for a cake in warm weather!
Pavlova is a naturally gluten-free dessert and by using coconut cream in place of traditional heavy cream, the filling is vegan making it a winner for restrictive diets. Want to know my favorite part about this dessert? The meringues are made with aquafaba!! That’s right, those pillowy meringues are whipped up from chickpea brine – no eggs involved!
If you’ve been following my blog for a few weeks now, you’ve probably grown tired of my incessant droning on about aquafaba, but once I get excited about something cool I can’t stop talking about it!
Please go get a can of chickpeas, and pour the liquid into a bowl, whip it up and just watch the aquafaba magic happen if you haven’t already. Truly a genius vegan innovation.
This pavlova is chocolate because I had some cacao powder on hand when I was making it and am one of those chocolate lovers, but you can also keep it classic vanilla by removing the cacao powder, or you can experiment with a variety of flavors. If you want to keep the simple vanilla meringue base you can always add flavors in the coconut cream or using your favorite jams/spreads/fruit/nuts between each layer (nutella anyone??) to jazz it up a bit.
If you have never had one before or are turned off by all the time required to make the meringues, JUST MAKE IT! It’s worth it! This recipe technically takes a lot of time from start to finish, but most of it is just the meringue sitting in the oven, it’s verrrrry minimal hands-on time. You could do lots of things while it’s in the oven, you could read a book, paint your nails, water your plants, do some yoga, clean your room, it’s basically a great opportunity to do an at-home chore since it does tie you to your house for a couple hours.
Pavlova will always remind me of my mom and I will never forget the memory of my first bite of pavlova in Croatia (genuinely scary how much I think about that cake…). I hope you try this recipe and it brings you as much joy as my first bite of a pavlova cake brought me!
Things that are key for this chocolate vegan gluten-free pavlova:
- You’ll want to make sure you have a great electric whisk as the aquafaba really needs to be beat like crazy in order to maintain good meringue form
- You need coconut cream, not coconut milk, for the cream filling. If you can’t find coconut cream (available at most asian supermarkets), you can get a can of coconut milk and put it in the fridge for 24 hours. When you open it, the white part on top is the cream which you’ll want to scrape out leaving the liquid behind for another use
- Don’t skimp on the time for whisking otherwise your meringues will not stay risen in the oven, they’ll get sad and droopy and no one likes a sad pavlova
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