Don’t get me wrong, I love pumpkin pie and moving here from Ireland, it’s come in high on my seasonal “must eat” list. However, sometimes I just want something a little different. Which is why I am opting for pumpkin pavlova for Thanksgiving.
This pumpkin pavlova delivers it in abundance! Pavlovas themselves are often spoken of as fancy, fearful bakes, full of disastrous pitfalls. But stick with me and you’ll be good! Here I’ve made and used a luscious pumpkin spice curd instead of the more familiar fruit curd in the filling. That when paired with the whipped cream filling is like an autumn, billowy blanket hug. Using mascarpone in the cream filling acts as a nice counter to the warmly spiced pumpkin curd and sweet meringue. The additions of the toasted pecans and chocolate chunks bring a great crunch and luxurious touch that’s worthy of any Thanksgiving gathering.
Curd makes about 2 cups
Pumpkin Spice Curd
- 1 cup pumpkin puree (NOT pumpkin pie filling)
- 1 cup white sugar
- 2 eggs
- 2 egg yolks
- 1 tablespoon orange juice
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1 stick butter, chopped into small pieces
- 3 large egg whites
- ½ cup fine sugar
- ½ cup dark brown sugar
- ¼ teaspoon cream of tartar, or ½ tsp lemon juice or vinegar
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup whipping cream
- 1 cup mascarpone
- 1/2 cup pecans, chopped and lightly toasted
- 2 oz dark chocolate, chopped
- 2 oz white chocolate, chopped
- Add all ingredients except the butter to the saucepan and whisk to combine
- Heat over a medium-low heat until the sugar has dissolved completely, and it is slightly bubbling.
- Continue to heat until the curd thickens slightly. When it’s ready it should coat the back of a spoon. Once you can draw a line on the back of the spoon with your finger without it running back together, it’s ready.
- Remove from the heat. Add the butter in small chunks, stirring and letting it melt into the curd before adding the next few chunks.
Let cool completely and then put in the fridge to chill until you’re ready to use it.
- Preheat your oven to 250°F. Cover a large baking tray with baking parchment and trace a circle, about 9-10 inches in diameter, on to the paper. Turn the paper over so the drawn-on side is facing down but still visible.
- In a clean, dry bowl of a stand mixer, using whisk attachment, whisk the egg whites until frothy, then add the cream of tartar and whip to soft peaks.
- Reduce the speed to medium-low and with the whisk continuously running, add in the salt and the sugars a spoonful at a time, until thick and satiny.
- Spread the meringue inside the drawn circle, creating a nest by making the sides a little higher than the centre. Place in the oven and bake for 3 hours, then switch off the oven but leave the meringue inside until completely cool: this will take about 2 hours.
- Once cool, remove from the oven and set aside until ready to assemble.
- Once your meringue has fully cooled, place the cream and mascarpone in a large bowl and whisk for about 1 minute, until stiff peaks form. Be careful not to over-whisk, If the mixture begins to split use a spatula to fold a little more cream into the mix to bring it back together.
- Carefully spoon the cream/ mascarpone mixture into the centre of the meringue. Add a layer of the pumpkin spice curd on top – as much or as little as you like.
- Sprinkle over ½ the dark and white chocolate pieces.
- Add another layer of the whipped cream and finish by sprinkling with the remaining chocolate pieces and the toasted pecan pieces.
- Serve and enjoy!
- Add you sugar in SLOWLY. I usually add it a Tablespoon at a time and let the mixture whisk for a couple pf minutes before I add the next. When all your sugar has been added you can check if its ready by dipping the back of a spoon (or your clean finger!) into the meringue mixture. Check by rubbing it. If it feels grainy- you need to whisk for about 2-3 more minutes. If it feels smooth – you’re good to go!
- I know it sounds a long time but cooking (and cooling) your meringue as per the recipe ensures you’ll have the crispiest shell, with a chewy inside, and minimal cracks. But don’t panic! If you’re meringue does crack, or break, you can piece it back together and under the filling no one will know! Pavlovas are best when they look rustic anyway.
Pavlova by its nature is a fleeting beauty. It’s best to leave assembling until just before you’re ready to serve to delay the meringue base dissolving under the cream filling. Alternatively, you could “paint” the inside of the meringue nest with melted chocolate, leave it to cool and set before adding the cream filling.
The recipe above for the pumpkin spice curd makes more than needed for the pavlova. Any remaining curd can be kept in an airtight jar in the fridge and makes a great spread on bagels, or a tasty addition to oatmeal or ice cream.
Award-winning Irish, Canadian baker, chocolate aficionada and LGBTQ+ father of two, Gavan Knox is the only competitor from Eastern Canada to appear on the third season of Food Network Canada’s The Great Chocolate Showdown. Where he defined his baking philosophy of taking point on using unexpected ingredients and flavours.
Knox has become the resident baking expert on many daytime shows including The Social, The Marilyn Denis Show, Your Morning, Cityline, CP24, CTV Calgary, CHCH and The Kelly Kutrara Show.
Knox has also been featured in major publications such as Foodism Toronto, The Montreal Guardian, The Guardian, Delicious Magazine, Gay Times and Attitude.