St. Patrick’s Day Cardamom Matcha Pavlova with Lucky Charm Marshmallows
Sifting through a pile of St. Patrick’s Day’s most relevant breakfast cereal, I found myself full of questions.
Could I name all of the Lucky Charms from memory? Wouldn’t the cereal be luckier if there were seven charms rather than the current eight? Is the cereal mascot offensive to the Irish, or perhaps just unflattering to leprechauns?
I contemplated, discarding chipped horseshoes and broken rainbows, fishing out only the best and most-charmed marshmallows to bring my pavlova luck.
Are balloons really charmed? I feel like that’s a stretch. Same goes for hourglasses.
Regardless of their dubious enchantment, the crunchy little multicolor bits did their part – adding a wink of St. Patrick’s Day fun and mischief to this otherwise serious pavlova.
Matcha, while infallibly green, is really so serious.
But necessary! Pavlova, you see, is a feather-light, airy meringue dream made of little more than egg whites, sugar and the passage of time. A floral whiff of exotic cardamom lends the concoction fragrant intrigue, but it is the grassy, grounded and lightly bitter notes of the powdered green tea that keep it from teetering over the edge of too-sweet.
This simple meringue asks only that you keep an eye on the egg whites as you whip – but don’t be intimidated! The transformation of egg whites to meringue is mesmerizing.
Whip the liquid whites to a froth, then speed up and witness tiny bubbles shrink and thicken into a pillowy, smooth foam. Check for soft peaks at this point – dip a spatula into the meringue, pull out vertically, then upright the spatula. Does the tip of the meringue on the spatula softly fall into a curve like a Dairy Queen cone? Those are soft peaks!
PAVLOVA IS A CRISP MERINGUE MADE OF WHIPPED EGG WHITES, SUGAR AND CORNSTARCH – PILE WITH FRUIT AND WHIPPED CREAM, AND YOU HAVE A SIMPLE, GLUTEN-FREE DESSERT!
Mixing on medium, slowly stream in the mixture of sugar, cornstarch, matcha and cardamom, and watch as the foam turns glossy and smooth. Beat until the whisk leaves trails in the meringue, then check for stiff peaks. Use the same method as above – if the tip of the meringue stands tall at attention, you’ve reached stiff peaks.
It’s better to check too early and often for stiff peaks – if you overwhip, the meringue turns into a choppy, chunky mess that can’t be redeemed!
Thus armed with stiff, glossy meringue, you pile the billowy mound of white onto parchment and swirl into an even disk, tufting with the back of a spoon. This is both therapeutic and utterly enjoyable.
You bake the pavlova at low temperature for an hour, drying and crisping the exterior while developing a contrasting chewy-marshmallow interior. The low heat prevents browning – keeping the concotion a lovely, subtle pastel green (or pure white, if you choose to omit the matcha). After an hour, you shut off the heat, crack the oven door, and leave the pavlova to spend a night in the cooling, dry oven.
When you are ready to serve, carve out a piece of the sugar-crisped shell and fill the cavity with unsweetened pillows of lemon curd whipped cream. The sugary pavlova sweetens the cream, and each bite is filled with delicate crunch, chewy meringue and tart, luscious whipped cream.
Sprinkle with charms for extra good luck.
- 4 egg whites
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/2 Tbsp cornstarch
- 2 tsp culinary grade matcha powder
- 1/4 tsp ground cardamom
- 1 tsp vanilla paste
- 1 tsp vinegar
- 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
- 1/2 cup lemon curd (or passionfruit or other tart curd)
- Lucky Charms (marshmallows only)
- Preheat oven to 275 degrees.
- Separate the egg whites (you will use egg whites only - be careful not to break any yolk into your whites or you'll have to start over!).
- Mix the sugar, cornstarch, matcha and cardamom together. In a separate small bowl, mix the vanilla paste and vinegar together.
- Line a large sheet pan with parchment. If you want your pavlova to be a perfect circle, trace around a circular plate, pie plate or cake tin approximately 9 inches in diameter, then flip the traced side facing down (so the marking doesn't transfer to the pavlova) - honestly though, you can probably get it pretty close to a perfect circle just by eye-balling!
- Pour your egg whites into a mixer, and turn on medium until frothy and beginning to thicken, approximately 2-3 minutes. Increase speed to high until you reach soft peaks.** Turn beater down to low.
- Add sugar mixture gradually, approximately a few tablespoons at a time. When all the sugar is incorporated, increase speed to medium high and whip until you have stiff, glossy peaks, approximately 1-2 mins more.*** Watch carefully - if you overbeat, the mixture will look chunky and curdled and you will have to start over again.
- After you reach stiff peaks, turn the mixer off and drizzle the vanilla/vinegar into the bowl. Beat on medium until incorporated, just a few seconds. You are done whipping!
- Take the mixing bowl, and use the spatula to scoop all the meringue onto the parchment (directly in the middle of the circle, if you have drawn a guide).
- Using a spoon. gently swirl and spread the mixture, smoothing it outward to create a disc of meringue 2-3 inches high and 9-10 inches in diameter. Add decorative tufts and swirls using the back of your spoon to give the pavlova some interest and dimension.
- Place gently in the oven, and immediately drop the temperature down to 250 degrees.
- Bake for 1 hour, then turn the oven off and crack the door slightly. Leave pavlova to cool slowly in the oven overnight. Pavlova can be stored at this stage in a ziploc bag or airtight container for 1-3 days (longer if you live somewhere with low humidity). There may be a few cracks here and there - this is totally fine and normal.
- Beat your whipping cream until soft and fluffy.
- When you reach soft peaks, add the lemon curd. Mix on high until cream is just a bit stiffer.
- The pavlova now has a crispy exterior shell and a gooey base layer. Using a sharp paring knife, gently carve a rough circle in just the upper shell of the pavlova - you want to be able to lift a circular portion out of the center to crumble and decorate with. It's okay if it cracks unevenly or makes new cracks. Everything will get cracked eventually when you cut out serving slices!
- Gently lift the carved circle out. Fill the pavlova with your whipped cream and toppings, then either replace topping over cream, or crack and sprinkle pieces over the whipped cream.
- If you'd rather, you can also just pile the whipped cream directly on top of the pavlova and then sprinkle with toppings. Serve immediately or within an hour or two max - the shell will begin to soften as soon as it is exposed to moisture.
- *When it's not St. Patrick's Day, I love to pile raspberries, strawberries, blueberries, and/or kiwis on top instead of Lucky Charms.
- ** To check for soft peaks, dip your whisk or spatula straight down into the mixture and pull straight back out. Flip so the meringue is upright - if the tip of the meringue curls softly downward, you have soft peaks.
- ***To check for stiff peaks, repeat the spatula dipping method. If the tip of the meringue continues to point straight up when you flip the spatula upright, you have stiff peaks.