Ok, friends, get ready for another Irish treat that I made grain and dairy free! Woot woot! Alright, alright, so it was already grain-free. But I did make it dairy free, and have been working on a completely Paleo option that is coming soon!
Now before I get too far a long in introducing you to this “Irish” dessert, I think it important that I let you know it isn’t actually Irish. Pavlova was created in honor of the Russian Ballet dancer, Anna Pavlova, during her tours in New Zealand and Australia. It is a very common dessert served there to this day, especially topped with passion fruit and kiwis.
So why do I call it Irish? Well, though it certainly isn’t exclusive – or even native – to Ireland, it is a very popular dessert there. I have had it in many restaurants, and especially in many homes served after Sunday dinner over the 5 years that I lived there. So, for the sake of nostalgia and personal experience, this dessert is very Irish in my mind. And I would argue that it makes a fantastic St. Paddy’s Day treat!
The 3 Layers in Pavlova
So, you want to know what Pavlova actually is? Simple. It is a three layered dessert made of…
- Whipped Cream
- Fresh, Seasonal Fruit
Sounds great, doesn’t it? It is so light, fresh, customizable, and refreshingly sweet! It can be made into one large meringue cake, or into smaller personal-sized nests as I have done here, and the skill level required to make it is low (though it will take a good few hours from start to finish, so be sure to plan ahead).
Now About that Paleo Option I mentioned…
The recipe below has been adapted from a sweet Irish friend. It is grain and dairy free, yes. And I even used low-carb berries on top! It does have Organic Evaporated Cane Syrup in it, though. I have tried adjusting measurements and substituting coconut or maple sugar, but they really are too dense and moist for this method of making meringue. The method used here (the French Method) relies on beating cream of tarter and fine granular sweeteners into egg whites until they are stiff and glossy. They are baked for only about an hour at a medium heat.
I have found a way to make this recipe completely Paleo, though, using Maple Syrup!! Hooray!
The catch is that it takes a completely different process of making the meringue (the Swiss Method), which involves mixing the egg whites and syrup over low heat to reach a certain temperature, and then whipping to form stiff peaks. The baking process is also much different, involving lower temperatures and almost 4 hours bake time.
SOOOOO… since the two processes were so different, I decided to break it up into two different blog posts. Today you will get the grain/dairy free version using Organic cane sugar.
Soon to follow, you will get the Paleo process using maple syrup.
Healthy Irish Pavlova (Grain + Dairy Free)
For the Meringue Nests:
- 4 Pastured Egg Whites, room temperature – make sure not to get any egg yolks mixed in, or the fat will cause the meringues not to properly form and bake
- .5 tsp Cream of Tartar (buy here)
- 1 cup Organic Evaporated Cane Juice (buy here) or other fine, white granular sweetener
For the Whipped Coconut Cream:
- 1 can of Coconut Cream (buy here), must be chilled 6-8 hrs beforehand
- Organic Coconut Sugar (buy here) or granular sweetener of choice, to taste
For the Fruit topping:
- Fresh fruits of choice, slightly mashed
For the Meringue Nests:
- Preheat the oven to 420F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or brown paper. Make sure all of your bowls, utensils, and cooking sheets are clean, dry, and free from oils or fat.
- Add room temperature egg whites to a stand mixer and turn the power on low until they become frothy. Increase the whipping speed to medium, and add in half of the sugar, 1 Tbsp at time.
- Add in the cream of tartar, and continue to add in the rest of the sugar slowly.
- Once all of the sugar has been added in, increase the whipping speed to medium-high or high, and continue beating until the egg whites form stiff, glossy peaks.
- Spoon 8 round heaps of the mixture onto your lined baking sheet, using the back of your spoon to shape them as desired. (Tip: create a slight dip in the middle to better faciliate toppings. I didn’t do this, but wish I had.) The mixture will not spread in baking, so they can be placed close together. However, I find it easier to use a second baking sheet so that I can get the nests a really good size.
- Place the sheet(s) into the heated oven for 2 minutes, and then reduce the temperature down to 240F. This step helps to give a crispy outershell, and a gooey, “marshmallowey” inside.
- Bake for 1 hr at the reduced temperature, but leave the oven door closed for 1.5-2 hrs after baking (or over night) to finish the drying out process. See below for storage tips.
- Directly before serving, top with whipped coconut cream and berries.
For Whipped Coconut Cream:
To make whipped coconut cream: Scoop chilled coconut cream into a mixer bowl, leaving behind the separated liquid in the can. Add coconut sugar or granular sweetener of choice to taste, and whip until light and airy.
The texture of the meringue is really dependent on them stayed dried out after baking. They should either be topped and served soon after removing them from the oven, or otherwise kept in an air-tight container at room temperature to avoid any moisture or humidty rehydrated them. The dry meringues will last several days up to a week if properly stored.