The quintessential Kiwi dessert, but can we convert it to whole foods? It’s a tricky one, and this is my best shot. Most whole food sweeteners don’t work for pav, as they have too high a liquid content, and also go very brown. The pav is likely to be rather sticky and chewy. But if you can find palm sugar, made from coconut, you get a better result. Not as melt in your mouth as white sugar pav and still a bit sticky on the outside, but still good. Notice that this also has only about ¼ of the sugar usually used.

If you are a pav expert, use these principles to convert your own pav recipe, and if you can work out a better recipe, please share your secret!

  • 4 large egg whites, at room temperature
  • pinch fine sea salt
  • 2oz palm sugar *
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • ½ tsp vanilla essence
  • 1 tsp arrowroot

Measure out all the ingredients before you start. The palm sugar will probably come in a block, which will need to be grated, or pulverised in a food processor. Line a baking tray with baking paper. Preheat the oven to 120C (250F).

Beat the egg whites and sea salt till soft peaks form. Then gradually add the sugar, continuing to beat till very stiff. Gradually add the lemon juice and vanilla essence, drop by drop, continuing to beat. Add the arrowroot, and continue beating till glossy.

Spoon the mixture onto the baking tray and smooth into a circle about 6-8 inches across. Bake in the middle of the oven for an hour, then turn off the oven and leave till completely cold. Top with whipped cream and sliced seasonal fruit such as strawberries or kiwifruit.

General pointers for good pavlova making:

  • Make sure your bowl and beater are completely clean and grease free.
  • When separating the eggs, make sure you don’t get even a speck of egg yolk in there
  • Have your egg whites at room temperature
  • Use an electric beater
  • Make sure you beat enough

* Places you might be able to get palm sugar include health food stores, the ethnic section of your supermarket, ethnic stores or, in NZ, Mediterranean Food Warehouse