Summer Fruit Pavlova with Coconut Custard and Honeyed Berries by Chef Martina Russial

Chef Martina Russial

Holistic Chef Program Instructor Martina Russial loves making desserts that feature seasonal ingredients, and what better time to feature berries than in the peak of summer!  

This dessert allows you to eat for pleasure while also considering healthful ingredients. 

Local honey is packed with probiotics and prebiotics that can aid in digestion. Sun ripened berries contain fiber and antioxidants. Coconut milk and eggs contain healthy fats, vitamins and antioxidants. What is better than a dessert that is good for you?

Delicious Desserts that use Healthy Ingredients

Desserts have always been a large part of my culinary life. As a child I started making cakes for family gatherings and decorating them with edible flowers and whatever I could find in the pantry that looked and tasted delicious.  

For the past 15 years I’ve been a pastry chef and really enjoyed the peace and artistry I was able to find in making desserts that were not only delicious, but that use healthy ingredients.  

The most common comment I get about my desserts is “it’s not too sweet,” said with a little surprise and delight! While sugar and fat do give us texture and structure in desserts, there are so many ways to achieve a delightful confection with much less refined and processed sugar.  

Desserts that Accommodate for Allergies and Intolerances

As a pastry chef, I’ve noticed the need in recent years for more desserts that are gluten free, dairy free, vegan, or that accommodate other sensitivities. It is a challenge and a pleasure to figure out how to make desserts that still bring about joy and nostalgia, while also accommodating those allergies or intolerances. 

Enter the Pavlova! Named after the great Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova during her tour of New Zealand and Australia, this is a wonderful dessert that is naturally gluten free and can be made dairy free with the additional toppings you pair it with.  

In this recipe, I use the left-over egg yolks from the meringue to make a creamy and decadent coconut custard. The summer fruit and custard are lightly sweetened with honey to highlight the natural flavors of the toppings, while not overpowering them.  

If you get the chance to cook along with me or make this recipe on your own, the most exciting thing about a pavlova is how you can adjust it to your personal tastes. Pairing with whatever fruits you have on hand or particularly enjoy can make this base Pavlova recipe exciting and new every time you make it!  

Just like the ballerina it was named after it is ethereal, elegant, and joyous to behold! I hope you enjoy making it! 

Check out the recipe below or learn more about Chef Martina and the rest of the Holistic Chef Team by visiting our faculty page.

Summer Fruit Pavlova with Coconut Custard and Honeyed Berries

Servings: 6

Summer Fruit Pavlova with Coconut Custard and Honeyed Berries
Summer Fruit Pavlova with Coconut Custard and Honeyed Berries 



  • 4 egg whites 
  • ¼ tsp salt 
  • 1/3 cup honey powder or honey 
  • 1 tbsp tapioca starch  
  • 1 tsp organic apple cider vinegar  
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract 

Coconut Custard

  • 1 can full fat coconut milk  
  • 2-3 tablespoons honey or honey powder (can also maple sugar or maple syrup) 
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract  
  • ½ tsp salt  
  • 4 egg yolks  
  • Zest of 1 lemon 

Honeyed Berries

  • 1 lb berries or fruit  
  • 1 tbsp local raw honey  
  • ¼ tsp salt  
  • Juice of one lemon  



  1. Preheat oven to 300F. Prepare a sheet pan with parchment paper and a 9” circle drawn on the underside to help you form the pavlova shape.  
  2. Whip egg whites and salt on high until foamy.  
  3. Keep the speed on high and slowly incorporate honey powder into the egg whites. Whip until glossy, stiff peaks form.  
  4. Add tapioca starch, apple cider vinegar and vanilla extract to whites. Fold in gently.  
  5. Spread mixture onto prepared parchment line baking sheet, making sure to spread the meringue evenly, and with a slightly raised edge around the circumference.  
  6. Place in the preheated oven and bake for 1 hour. Turn off the oven and let the pavlova cool completely in the cooling oven.  

Coconut Custard

  1. Heat coconut milk, sweetener, vanilla extract and salt to simmering in a small pot.  
  2. Slowly temper mixture into egg yolks, whisking constantly.  
  3. Add mixture back to pot and heat on low while constantly stirring until thickened.  
  4. Strain through fine mesh sieve, mix in lemon zest, and chill in an ice bath until ready for serving.   

Honeyed Berries

  1. Cut up fruit into bite-size pieces.  
  2. Toss with other ingredients and let sit for minimum 15 minutes up to 3 hours.  

To Serve Complete Dish

  1. Remove pavlova from parchment paper and lay on a large plate.  
  2. Drizzle with coconut custard and top with honey sweetened fruit.  
  3. Add additional toppings for texture such as: toasted coconut flakes, nuts, or seeds.  

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