If your Thanksgiving is going to be decidedly pie-free but you're having a hard time giving up pumpkin altogether, this is about to blow your mind. Spiced meringue layered with pumpkin-maple whipped cream and topped with pecan brittle is the stacked, subtle, light finale you never knew your T-Giv was missing. Bonus points if you put out the extra brittle pieces in a bowl for wayward snackers. —Kendra Vaculin
2 hours 30 minutes
For the spiced meringue and pumpkin whipped cream:
large egg whites
pumpkin purée (homemade or canned)
For pecan brittle:
finely chopped pecans
shelled sunflower seeds (unsalted)
unsalted butter, cubed
big pinch flaky sea salt
In This Recipe
Preheat oven to 425° F.
On a piece of parchment paper cut to fit your baking sheet, trace two 8-inch circles in a dark marker (I use a cake pan or dinner plate). Flip the paper and place it marker-side down on your baking sheet—you'll want to be able to see the circle through to the other side.
In a small bowl, whisk the cloves, ginger, nutmeg, and 1 1/2 teaspoons of the cinnamon into the sugar until combined.
In the bowl of a stand mixer of with a handheld electric mixer, beat the egg whites until they just start to stiffen. Add spiced sugar a spoonful at a time, and then the vanilla. Continue beating until stiff peaks form.
Spoon the meringue into the two circles on the baking sheet. Use the back of the spoon to spread them into flat disks, about 1 1/2 inches tall (edges can be craggy). Place the baking sheet into oven and immediately turn the temperature down to 250° F.
After 90 minutes, turn the oven off but do not remove the baking sheet until meringues are cooled completely and have crisped up (about 1 hour). Don't open the oven door even to peek!
While the meringue rounds are baking and cooling, assemble the cream filling. With an electric mixer or a whisk and some elbow grease, whip the cream, pumpkin purée, remaining 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon, and maple syrup together in a large bowl until thick and slightly thickened. Refrigerate until ready to use; you may need to give it another quick whip right before assembly.
To make the brittle, line a large baking sheet with aluminum foil. Set aside. In a small bowl, whisk together the baking soda and vanilla. Set aside.
Pour the sugar into a medium saucepan and heat over medium-high, swirling the pan around occasionally, until entirely melted into a caramelly liquid (take care not to burn it). Reduce heat to low and add the pecans, sunflower seeds, and butter. Stir until the nuts and seeds are combined and the butter is melted and incorporated.
Add the vanilla slurry, stirring again to combine; look alive, the mixture will froth.
Pour brittle mixture onto the prepared baking sheet. Spread into as thin a layer as possible, and sprinkle with sea salt. Allow to cool completely.
Once cool, peel the foil from the back of the brittle and break into pieces. Roughly chop large pieces into even smaller bits, about 1/4 inch or smaller.
To assemble the pavlova, set one meringue round on a serving dish. Cover with a thick layer of pumpkin filling, extending to the very edges of the meringue disk. Top with second meringue layer, and then another thick spread of filling. Sprinkle with brittle bits and serve.