Vegan Eton Mess (nee Pavlova) with Summer Berries

Important disclaimer: this recipe contains sugar. I know, I know. I hate to kill the vibe so early on, but if you're currently experiencing a skin flare or in the early days of your healing journey, this recipe is not recommended. It's also really damn difficult to get right, which doesn't make the situation any better!

I do however want to share this with you for a couple of reasons. Firstly, it's fun to experiment with food, and whilst I share lots of vibrant, successful recipes, I want you to know I don't always get it right first time (pictures of the minor pavlova fail to follow)! I'm also so totally intrigued at the possibility of chickpea water making a dessert, that I've been dying to give this a try ever since I saw it on Bake Off. Since I have many vegan blog followers, I'm inspired to share my efforts with you! 

Why is Sugar a Problem?

So let's begin with why sugar is bad. Sugar contributes to inflammation, and inflammation is harmful to the diversity and function of gut bacteria. A diet that includes frequent consumption of added sugars is likely to lead to weight gain. Studies show that dietary-induced obesity creates changes to the microbial life in our gut and it's my belief that skin conditions are a direct reflection of our gut health.   

So, if sugar is so awful, why can't I get pavlova out of my head this week?!

I'm laying the blame firmly at the feet of my lovely friend & naturopath Nikki, who shared this stunning picture on her Instagram. Nikki makes the BEST looking (non vegan) pavlovas each summer. I also make heaps of hummus at this time of year and constantly drain the liquid away. AquaFaba - the liquid in a can of chickpeas - can be used to make a whip similar to the consistency of egg meringue. I really wanted to experiment with this recipe out of curiosity - just to see if it's possible!

My Pavlova Attempts

Each time I tried to create this pavlova it fell flat in the oven. The key, I think, is warming the aquafaba first. It takes longer but it helps to stop it falling flat. It's also really important to whip it up so that the peaks in the mixture are extra stiff. And finally, as tempting as it is, don't open the oven door whilst it's cooling - let it set properly. That said, as you can see from the picture, I can't be claiming this as a resounding success just yet. But if all else fails, it makes some beautiful sickly sweet Eton Mess desserts!!

Once I've mastered this my intention is to try it with ground coconut sugar to see if a healthier version can be done, but I won't run before I can walk! 

If you've mastered the vegan version, please do email me with your tips! 

INGREDIENTS

Liquid AquaFaba from 2 tins of chickpeas

225g caster sugar (I blitzed mine in the nutribullet so that it was almost powder like and light) 

1 tsp apple cider vinegar

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp xanthan gum 

1 tin coconut full fat milk (place in fridge overnight for the whipped cream)

Measure the liquid drained from the tinned chickpeas, it should be about 150ml combined. Pour into a saucepan and warm over a very gentle heat. You will need to reduce the quantity by about 50%. The liquid thickens as it heats, you want to be left with approx 75ml. Once you have 75ml, pour into a bowl and place into the fridge to cool 

Pour the cooled liquid into a super clean mixing bowl. It's really important the bowl is clean. The greasy film sometimes found on bowls can prevent aquafaba from foaming. Use an electric whisk to whip up the aquafaba. It will take ten minutes or more to get the liquid to stiffen so don't give up! 

Vegan pavlova

Once stiff, begin to add the sugar - add it too early and you can kiss goodbye to a good strong foam. Very slowly spoon it in, one tablespoon at a time, whisking all the while to keep the mixture stiff

aquafaba pavlova

Now add the vinegar, vanilla and xanthan gum and whisk some more

Use a pencil to draw a circle approx 20cm in diameter on a sheet of baking paper. Spoon the mixture into the circle, building the edges higher than the centre. The centre should dip into a well for the fruit and cream 

The opinions of meringue connoisseurs vary greatly when it comes to oven time. Some saying a lower temperature overnight, others suggest 100c for an hour or so. I would recommend placing your meringue in the middle of the oven at 100c for an hour and fifteen minutes. Although once cooked, switch the oven off, resist temptation to open the door and leave overnight to cool or for at least 4 hours.

DECORATING

To create a vegan whipped cream, remove the can of coconut milk from the fridge, open it underneath and drain off the liquid. Spoon out the thick, white coconut cream into a bowl and whip it up until fluffy. Spoon onto your pavlova base 

When it comes to decorating your pavlova I like lots of fresh fruit! You can go for red berries or something more tropical such as kiwi and passion fruit.

You can see I can't be claiming this as a resounding success just yet! Whilst it was crispy on the outside and fluffy in the centre, it cracked to pieces as soon as I lifted it off it's baking paper!! Worst case scenario, spoon everything into glass jars and serve as a fancy Eton Mess .. dinner party guests will be none the wiser!