When you only have two tablespoons of matcha powder left… Decisions, decisions, decisions.
Or cupcakes, cupcakes, cupcakes.
When I think of traditional Japanese sweets, what comes to mind is matcha wagashi, a traditional kind of beautiful, exquisite sweet that went with the tea ceremony. We’re going back hundreds and hundreds of years. Now if you fast-forward to today, Japanese sweets pretty much run the gamut – of course there’s still wagashi, but now you’ll find green tea cheesecake, matcha brownies, even wasabi ice cream (I’ve seen it all). I think we’re at the crossroads between using Japanese traditional ingredients and doing our own crazy thing with Western components, especially when it comes to sweets. Hello, Japanese flavors and American desserts!
I am definitely aware of the fact that green tea’s astringency isn’t everyone’s fare, but true fans who are fond of matcha appreciate its refreshing, cooling effect and herbaceous aroma. Now while surfing the internet about matcha, I interestingly learned that the bitterness of matcha was supposed to remind us of the bitterness of life. #10secondhistorylessonoftheday. To me this is so ironic, since matcha is always paired with a small sweet to balance out the bitterness of the matcha. Now let’s fast-forward again to today. You can find everything under the sun made with matcha. Matcha pudding, matcha cheesecake, matcha muffins, matcha cookies, matcha ice cream… The list goes on and on and America seems to have followed suit with that. I would point anyone to green tea cupcakes though, which may be my absolute favorite of all.
So, here is my sweet, little mashup of the day: Matcha cupcakes with white chocolate cream cheese buttercream. Tried to be somewhat original, but this combination has been long-established by the pastry giants here on the Western hemisphere and I wasn’t about to royally screw it up with distinctly odd pairings. The simpler, the better.
We all know that matcha brings a plethora of health benefits (which I talked about in a prior matcha recipe). I can’t guarantee you that these cupcakes will help cure cancer or lower your cholesterol (I guess converting green tea into a baked good negates all the health benefits?), but I can guarantee you that your taste buds will sing with the perfect balance of the fresh, slightly bitter flavor of the matcha powder and the tartness of the lemon from the cream cheese buttercream. I’d argue that these reveal a whole new layer of green tea’s benefits…
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 2-3 tbsp matcha powder (plus extra for decorating)
- ½ tbsp baking powder
- ¼ tsp salt
- 6 oz (1 stick plus 2 table spoons) unsalted butter, softened
- 1½ cups sugar
- 2 eggs + 1 egg yolk
- ½ tsp almond extract
- ⅔ cups almond milk
- 9 ounces white chocolate, chopped
- 12 ounces cream cheese, softened (do not buy whipped version)
- ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
- 1½ tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
- Dark chocolate for decoration
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and line your cupcake pans with paper liners.
- In a small bowl, sift your dry ingredients: flour, baking powder, salt, and matcha powder. Set aside.
- In a electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat your butter until smooth. Add in the sugar and beat again until light and fluffy (about 5 minutes). Add in the eggs one at a time until each one is fully incorporated. Add almond extract.
- Add in the dry ingredients and milk in 3 batches, alternating between the two until all is incorporated.
- Fill your cupcake liners ¾ full and bake at 18-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack.
- Melt the white chocolate over a double broiler and stir constantly until it has completely melted. Do not allow the chocolate to get too hot and be sure no moisture gets into the melted chocolate or it could seize up (become grainy, very thick and unworkable).
- Using an electric stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, beat cream cheese until smooth and creamy. Gradually add cooled white chocolate and beat until well incorporated and smooth.
- Add butter and lemon juice; beat well until fully incorporated and fluffy.
- Pipe each cupcake and drizzle with chocolate!