Pavlova is a fluffy, marshmallow like cloud of sweet deliciousness that is really easy to adapt for a keto or low-carb diet. This Down Under Christmas special is topped with whipped cream and juicy golden peaches, which makes it a perfect summertime dessert everywhere!
As the classic pavlova recipe is all about egg whites and sugar, you’d think it’s not ok to eat if you avoid sugar. But you sure can have all the pavlova you want: you just need to make it sugar-free…
Fortunately, that’s as easy as swapping the sugar in your pavlova for a keto sweetener, like erythritol or allulose. And in doing so you’ll get a keto friendly and low-carb dessert that’s high protein too, thanks to the egg whites. Or at least it was, before I added a cup of heavy whipped cream on top 😁
It’s a serious challenge to eat just one slice. I failed. I literally buried my face on this, no kidding. I want to make a huge keto pavlova the size of a bed and sleep on it.
Is pavlova different from meringue?
A pavlova is a type of meringue. Meringues are usually cooked for a longer time, are crisp all the way through, and crumbly. Pavlovas are meringues that are cooked for a shorter time, which keeps the inside soft and fluffy.
The classic pavlova recipe was created to celebrate Anna Pavlova, the Russian dancer, on occasion of her tour through Australia and New Zealand in 1926. Today, it is still a beloved dessert that graces the table of many Aussie and Kiwi families and it’s traditionally served for Christmas.
The original recipe takes the sugar and egg whites from the meringue, and adds a little bit of cornstarch and white vinegar to stabilize the proteins and give its center a softer texture. For this keto pavlova, I added a little xanthan gum instead of cornstarch to achieve a similar effect, minus the carbs.
I was stressing out to see if the sugar-free pavlova would set properly. My grandma used to make meringue a lot, and her egg custard baked casseroles covered in meringue were just heavenly. They took tons of sugar, though. So I set out to try this with low expectations.
Well, I was SO pleasantly surprised. One, the pavlova does set perfectly, and even made with erythritol it browns on the outside (lighter than a sugar based meringue would, but still) and inside it’s deliciously soft, fluffy and marshmallow-y.
Are peaches keto?
Peaches are a relatively low-carb fruit, so they can be enjoyed in moderation in a keto or low-carb diet. They are super low in calories – so obviously they can’t have a huge amount of carbs. Unfortunately, nearly all the calories they do have come from sugar.
According to the USDA, 100 grams of peaches contain only 39 calories, and 8.39 grams of sugar. With mindful portioning, you can totally enjoy the taste of peaches on a keto diet.
Sugar-free peaches in syrup recipe
For this keto pavlova toppings, I chose the always pleasant combination of whipped cream and beautiful, summery golden peaches in sugar-free syrup.
But it can be hard to find sugar-free canned peaches. I use these ones, which are sweetened with stevia and monk fruit. If you can’t get your hands on some, here’s my suggestion for a simple homemade alternative:
Chop up some fresh peaches – choose ripe ones, or they won’t easily soften. Use about one tablespoon of water and one tablespoon of erythritol (or any other sugar equivalent keto sweetener) per cup of diced peaches, plus a teaspoon of lemon juice.
Simmer them for a few minutes, gently moving the pieces around the pan with a wooden spoon or a silicone spatula, until they are tender and the liquid has just started to thicken. Wait until the peaches are completely cooled down, and top up your pavlova!
Other topping ideas
If you don’t like peaches or they are too heavy in carbs to fit your macros, this keto pavlova is also amazing topped with berries.
I’ve tried with sliced strawberries and whipped cream, it is perfect! I also made a heavenly sweet and sour version, with red currants and keto condensed milk instead of whipped cream and peaches, which I most definitely recommend!
How to make pavlova
Pavlova is one of those elegant desserts that look super elaborated but are actually incredibly easy to make… even in their keto versions.
Beating the egg whites right
Start by carefully separating the eggs and laying the whites in a clean, dry bowl. Add together the cream of tartar, if using.
Start beating the egg whites at medium speed, until they form soft peaks.
Then, still with the mixer running, start adding the powdered sweetener, slowly. I like to add 1 tablespoon at a time, counting to 10 between each spoon.
Then sprinkle in the xanthan gum, very finely – don’t just drop the whole amount at once, or it will become a clumped mess. And the vanilla extract.
Continue beating the egg whites on medium speed until they are stiff AND glossy. See the first picture above, that’s the consistency we are aiming for: it’s shiny and the point holds. If you continue beating the egg whites long past this point, they will get opaque and lose elasticity, which is not great. They start separating and crumble apart.
Shaping and baking
Place a parchment paper on top of a baking tray, and make a mountain of egg whites on top. Shape it with a spatula, forming a depression in the middle, to have more space to hold the toppings!
Put the pavlova in the preheated oven, and bake it on low and slow until it’s completely set, but still soft – before it becomes meringue. That will take a little over one hour.
Turn off the oven and leave the pavlova inside to cool down completely – a couple of hours at least. After the pavlova is completely cool, you can store it in an airtight container for up to 3 days. The outside of the pavlova will dry overtime, and it will get crisper.
Add toppings just before serving
From the time you put in the toppings, the pavlova will absorb the humidity and it might get soft or even soggy. So, it’s best to put the fillings in the pavlova just before serving. Whip the heavy cream with some sweetener and fill in the pavlova, then top with the peaches in sugar-free syrup.
Tips for a perfect pavlova!
1. When planning to beat your egg whites, first rule of business is: start with a squeaky clean and completely dry bowl.
This is to avoid contamination of the egg whites with fat or liquids, either from a greasy bowl or from an accidental drop of egg yolk, which (it is said) will completely and utterly cripple the egg whites in a way that they will never, ever foam enough to become meringue, and you’ll have to throw everything away and start all over again. You have been warned.
(Although, I have sucessfuly spooned yolk that fell into egg whites and managed to beat them stiff anyway, just sayin’)
2. Add cream of tartar together with the egg whites. It makes them beat faster, higher, and helps prevent overbeating. You CAN do it without it, but it’s a sort of perfect egg white insurance. Cream of tartar could be substituted for another acid, such as lemon juice or white vinegar, but I avoid if possible as I find the resulting meringue less “sturdy”.
3. Do NOT bake your keto pavlova on a rainy or humid day. They take a long time to set properly and get crisp on the outside if the weather is humid.
4. You can use any keto sweetener combination that is equivalent to sugar, but if you want a crisper pavlova avoid xylitol. Xylitol will make hard for the meringue to… harden. So I generally use is a erythritol and stevia blend which I make myself, and is sweet as sugar. You can also use powdered erythritol plus monk fruit.
5. Use super fine or powdered keto sweetener, not granulated. A finer sweetener dissolves much better into the egg whites. You can buy keto powdered sweetener or make your own, it’s very simple:
To make powdered sweetener, just put your granulated sweetener into a (completely dry) blender jar (or in a food processor) and blend for a couple of seconds. Just wait until the powder sets down before opening the jar. That’s it!
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