Sure, Pumpkin Chiffon Chocolate-Bottomed Pavlova is a mouthful, but it’s the best way to describe this elegant, single-serving, gluten-free dessert.
As I stared into the refrigerator, a leftover cup of pumpkin puree and some whipping cream caught my eye. Although I originally intended to make a pumpkin chiffon pie, my thoughts turned to meringue as a gluten-free alternative.
Donna Hay’s chocolate-dipped single serving pavlovas provided my inspiration.
Pavlovas are meringues. Crisp on the outside, they retain a soft quality on the inside. Anywhere from saucer to cake-sized, their name comes from the Russian ballerina, Anna Pavlova. A New Zealand chef created the dessert in her honor during or after one of her tours to Australia and New Zealand in the 1920’s. Donna Hay is an Australian food stylist and cookbook author. It wasn’t until I began writing this post and looked up the origin of the name Pavlova that I realized why so many pavlova recipes come from that part of the world.
Of course, the pumpkin chiffon part is pure American. And that makes a Pumpkin Chiffon Chocolate-Bottomed Pavlova perfect as a non-traditional, but still pumpkin-based, Thanksgiving dessert.
The chocolate top and bottom give the pavlova a rich, chocolaty taste to tempt any chocoholic. Pair that with the light pumpkin chiffon and the airy meringue and you have a study in contrasts. There’s another contrast too – the smooth tasting pumpkin chiffon followed by the slightly crunchy meringue. Taken all together, the elements are like the instrumental parts of a symphony. Alone each might not be much, but together, they’re exquisite.
Pipe the meringue and the chiffon if you desire. But that’s not how I operate, especially when I experiment. Piping looks great, but I find it too much trouble. Either way, the pavlova tastes delicious, so take your pick.
Even gluten-lovers will enjoy scooping up the pillowy pumpkin chiffon and diving through the meringue to the chocolaty bottom. They won’t even miss a pie crust in this Pumpkin Chiffon Chocolate-Bottomed Pavlova.
The ingredients are simple. The pavlova just contains eggs, granulated and confectioners sugar, cornstarch and vinegar. The bottom only requires a nice dark chocolate.
The chiffon is pumpkin puree, heavy cream, a bit of confectioners sugar and a few spices. I like to grate nutmeg from a whole pod. However, you can buy it ground.
Pumpkin Chiffon Chocolate-Bottomed Pavlova
Single Serving Pavlovas (Meringues)
- 4 egg whites (from 4 large eggs)
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup confectioners sugar
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 2 teaspoons white vinegar
- 7 ounces dark chocolate 6 ounces for bottom, 1 ounce chopped and reserved for topping
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 3 tablespoons confectioners sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon allspice
- 1/8 teaspoon cloves equal to a pinch or two
- 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg equal to a pinch or two
- 1- 1 1/4 cups pumpkin puree If using canned (as I did), check the label to make sure it is only puree and does not contain any sugar or spices. Do not use pumpkin pie filling.
Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. LIne a rimmed cookie sheet with parchment and set aside.
Beat the egg whites with an electric mixer (hand or stand), starting at low speed and gradually increasing to medium, until soft peaks form.
With the mixer running, gradually add both sugars until stiff peaks form. Then add the cornstarch and vinegar, mixing just until they are incorporated into the egg whites and sugars. Spoon a generous half cupful of the mixture onto the cookie sheet and make an indentation in the center almost to the parchment. Repeat for 8 pavlovas.
Reduce the oven temperature to 250 degrees F and bake for 1 hour, until the pavlovas are golden. Turn off the oven and let them cool in the oven (about 30 minutes.)
While the pavlovas are cooling, melt the chocolate. Using a pastry brush, spread a medium thin layer of chocolate on the bottom of each pavlova. Let the chocolate set (for about another 30 minutes) before turning the pavlovas right side up and filling them.
Put the heavy cream and vanilla in a cold mixing bowl. Using a mixer (hand or stand), starting at a low speed and moving slowly up to medium, beat until soft peaks form.
Then add the confectioners sugar and spices. Continue mixing at medium speed until stiff peaks form. Fold in the pumpkin puree.
Cover and set aside in the refrigerator until ready to serve the pavlovas.
Building the Dessert
Once the chocolate has set on the bottom of each pavlova, you can complete the dessert. Set the pavlova on a plate. Spoon a dollop or two of the pumpkin chiffon on top. Sprinkle with the chopped chocolate and serve.
I made the pumpkin chiffon while the pavlovas were cooling in the oven.