The showstopping Pavlova gets a makeover here with a huge reduction in sugar – only a touch of maple syrup and stevia are used. The filling is Dairy Free, and the beautiful pile of fresh summer berries is full of healthy vitamins and antioxidants. It’s a gorgeous dessert sure to impress anyone!
Who doesn’t swoon over a Pavlova? They are just so beautiful with their cloud of airy meringue and their colorful pile of fruit on top. And the creamy filling pulls everything together making you go in for bite after bite after bite.
Pavlovas are the beloved of the Gluten Free world, because they naturally have no gluten in them.
But sugar? That’s another story. How to make a Pavlova that wouldn’t send us all into a fit of itchy skin and migraines?
Well, it wasn’t exactly a piece of cake, but after many tries, I figured it out. I tried using only stevia as the sweetener, but the meringue just wasn’t getting stiff and glossy like it does with regular sugar. So, I added 2 teaspoons of maple syrup, and that did the trick. It’s still a very small amount of natural sweetener for such a gorgeous dessert. I know that for some people, that might still be out of the question, and I apologize deeply. But if you’re able to tolerate a little bit of maple syrup, then there’s nothing holding you back from making this Pavlova.
I included the weight for the egg whites as well as the number of egg whites, because I keep a container of egg whites in my refrigerator at all times. No, I’m not worried about a sudden shortage of egg whites. It’s just that with most of my other Sugar Free baking, I usually add an extra egg yolk to the mix. That leaves me with a lot of egg whites leftover after a week or two of consistent baking. Meringues are a terrific way to put those egg whites to use.
For the filling, Pavlova traditionally calls for whipped cream. That definitely doesn’t work for those of us who are lactose intolerant. The usual Dairy Free substitution for regular whipped cream is coconut milk whipped cream, because it’s so thick and creamy. But, I just can’t eat a lot of it or really much of it at all. It’s too rich for me, and I find the texture to be a bit too thick.
So I was determined to make a Dairy Free filling that would still be creamy and smooth but a lot lighter. What I came up with is essentially an almond milk pudding. I used a small amount of coconut cream to maximize the creaminess of coconut in a smaller amount, but then I mixed that with ½ a cup of almond milk to dilute it. This resulted in the perfect amount of smooth creaminess without being too rich and without having an overwhelming coconut flavor.
Finally, for the fruits. I absolutely adore mixed berries, and I think that the blend of different colors and shapes is stunning. Use whatever fruits you like best or you can find that are fresh and in season. I found some great kiwis, so I added those for a bright pop of green among the darker berries. But if you can’t find kiwis, don’t sweat it. Just leave them out.
Pavlova looks so fancy, but it’s really a pretty simple dessert to make, and it’s very flexible. You could fill it with my Chocolate Pudding instead of the simple almond milk filling. You can experiment with different fruits on top.
You can also make the components ahead of time and then assemble them just before serving. For example, you could make the meringue the night before and let it sit in the oven overnight. As long as the meringue doesn’t go into the refrigerator (where meringue’s worst enemy – MOISTURE! – lives), it will be okay for a day or even two. You could easily make the filling ahead of time and hold it in the refrigerator.
Whatever you do, don’t stress about the Pavlova. It should be a delightful indulgence for the eyes and the stomach, not a source of stress. A beautiful Pavlova is the essence of summer ease, so let your guests oooh and aaah over your cooking skills as you sit back and enjoy this delicious treat.
Why You’ll LOVE this Recipe:
- A stunning centerpiece
- Sugar Free
- Dairy Free
- Gluten Free
- Full of healthy berries
Ingredients for Sugar Free Pavlova:
- egg whites
- liquid stevia
- maple syrup
- cream of tartar
- vanilla extract
- coconut cream
- almond milk
Notes on Ingredients:
Egg whites – Egg whites form meringue when their proteins are broken down by mechanical action and then reform again with various agents to form bonds again and thus form meringue. Be careful when separating your eggs – cold eggs separate best, and I recommend separated each egg separately before adding them together. Even the best of us get a drippy yolk, and it’s a real bummer when one drip of egg yolk ruins a whole bowl of egg whites.
Salt – Salt is for flavor.
Liquid stevia – Use liquid stevia, not powdered.
Maple syrup – Using only stevia in the meringue just didn’t work. A touch of maple syrup did the trick, though.
Cornstarch – A little bit of cornstarch helps to make the meringue more stable. We’re also using cornstarch in the filling to thicken it.
Cream of tartar – An acid is used in meringue to stabilize it. Some people use vinegar instead of cream of tartar. I’ve always used cream of tartar, and it works for me.
Vanilla extract – Just a touch of vanilla gives the meringue a beautiful flavor. Too much will turn it very brown.
Coconut cream – The coconut cream makes the filling rich and creamy.
Almond milk – The almond milk is for making the filling and keeps it light as well as diminishing the coconut flavor of the coconut cream.
Strawberries – So beautiful and bright. A must for a mixed berry pavlova.
Blackberries – Not necessary, but I think they add a nice contrast to the bright strawberries. Plus, my daughter adores them.
Raspberries – Raspberries have a darker, more matte hue than strawberries, so I like to add them in for beauty and also because they’re delicious.
Blueberries – Because they’re delicious and good for you and also because their color complements all the pinks and reds of the other fruits.
Kiwis – Not necessary, but if you can find some ripe, I love their contrasting super bright green with the darker berries. They’re packed with vitamin C, too, so they really take this mix of berries over the top in terms of packing a healthy fruit punch.
How to Make Sugar Free Pavlova From Scratch
Make the Meringue
In a stand mixer with a metal or glass bowl, combine the egg whites and salt. (Don’t use a plastic bowl, because fat is the enemy of meringue, and even if you scour a plastic bowl, it’s impossible to get tiny bits of oil off completely).
Start beating on low, then slowly increase the speed to high. Add the liquid stevia and maple syrup. Continue beating until glossy peaks form.
Add the cornstarch, cream of tartar, and vanilla extract. Beat until the meringue is stiff. This means that you should be able to scoop some meringue up with a spoon, and it will hold its shape. Some people like to do the test of turning the bowl of meringue upside down over their heads. I don’t recommend doing that, but it’s a good image to have in mind.
Use a rubber spatula to make a mound of meringue on the prepared baking sheet. Shape into a disk with a slight concavity on top.
Place the meringue into the oven and immediately lower the temperature to 300 F. Let the meringue bake for 1 hour. Then turn the oven off and leave the meringue in the oven, letting it cool completely.
Make the Filling
In a small pot, whisk together the coconut cream, stevia, and almond milk.
Heat the pot on the stove over medium-high heat. Add the cornstarch, and begin to gently whisk continuously. Make sure that there are no lumps of cornstarch remaining.
Continue whisking until the liquid thickens. It will happen very suddenly, so do not walk away from the stove. Trust me, I am the queen of multi-tasking in the kitchen. But do not do anything else except stir the filling! Otherwise, it will thicken right when you have your hands drenched doing dishes, and you will end up with a lumpy filling.
You can test if the liquid is ready by dipping a wooden spoon into the liquid. If it coats the back of the spoon opaquely without dripping off at all, then it’s ready.
Remove the filling from the heat and continue whisking to bring the temperature down and to make sure that no lumps form. Refrigerate the filling until ready to use.
Prepare the Fruits
Wash and pat dry the fruits. Hull the strawberries and chop them into quarters or slices. Peel the kiwis, and slice them into half-moons.
Assemble the Pavlova
When ready to assemble the pavlova, remove the meringue from the oven. Place it on a serving plate or cake stand. Spoon the filling on top and spread it out. Place the fruits on top of the filling. Serve immediately.
The Pavlova is best eaten on the day that it is assembled. Because you are putting a wet filling on top of a dry meringue, the meringue will eventually absorb the filling’s wetness and will become soggy. I did refrigerate this meringue overnight, because, despite our best intentions, my daughter and I could not eat the entire thing in one sitting. I have to admit that I kind of liked the meringue the next day. It was chewy and quite pleasant. But I wouldn’t serve it to guests that way.
Please let me know in the comments if you try making a Pavlova and how it turns out for you.
Sugar Free Pavlova – Dairy Free Gluten Free
- 120 g egg whites (4 egg whites)
- pinch of salt
- ½ teaspoon liquid stevia
- 2 teaspoon maple syrup
- 2 teaspoon cornstarch
- ½ teaspoon cream of tartar
- ⅛ teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¼ cup coconut cream
- ⅛ teaspoon liquid stevia
- ½ cup almond milk
- 2 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1 cup strawberries, hulled and sliced
- ½ cup blackberries
- ½ cup raspberries
- ½ cup blueberries
- 3 kiwis, peeled and sliced
- Make the meringue: Preheat the oven to 350F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Trace an 8” or 9” cake pan to make a circle. Flip the parchment paperover so that the marking is face down on the baking sheet.
- In a stand mixer with a metal or glass bowl, combine the egg whites and salt. Start beating on low, then slowly increase the speed to high. Add the liquid stevia and maple syrup. Continue beating until glossy peaks form.
- Add the cornstarch, cream of tartar, and vanilla extract. Beat until the meringue is stiff.
- Use a rubber spatula to make a mound of meringue on the prepared baking sheet. Shape into a disk with a slight concavity on top.
- Place the meringue into the oven and immediately lower the temperature to 300 F. Let the meringue bake for 1 hour. Then turn the oven off and leave the meringue in the oven, letting it cool completely.
- Make the filling: In a small pot, whisk together the coconut cream, stevia, and almond milk.
- Heat the pot on the stove over medium-high heat. Add the cornstarch, and begin to gently whiskcontinuously. Make sure that there areno lumps of cornstarch remaining.
- Continue whisking until the liquid thickens. It will happen very suddenly, so do not walk away from the stove. You can test if the liquid is ready by dipping a wooden spoon into the liquid. If it coats the bake of the spoon opaquely without dripping off at all, then it’s ready.
- Remove the filling from the heat and continue whisking to bring the temperature down and to make sure that no lumps form.
- Refrigerate the filling until ready to use.
- Prepare the fruits.
- When ready to assemble the pavlova, remove the meringue from the oven. Place it on a serving plate or cake stand. Spoon the filling on top and spread it out. Place the fruits on top of the filling. Serve immediately. Eat and enjoy!