Monday, 31 December 2012

It's Not Easy Being a Green Tea Cupcake

There is something amazing about a cup of nice green tea: it's soothing and tasty, it will get rid of toxins, hydrate you just as well as a big glass of water, boost your brain power and your immune system... It really is a gorgeous magic potion for the body and for the soul. My favorite is David's Tea Dragon Pearls: I drink two cups of the stuff every day I can, and every drop feels and tastes wonderful. Living in the real world would be very tough sometimes if there was no green tea... and no adorable mugs to drink it from - thank you Mel and Matt for the cutest Christmas presents!

December is always synonymous with madness at work, and while chocolate is wonderful to keep stress under control, I could not have made it without my green tea, and in that spirit, I wanted a zen little dessert I could bring to my in-laws' Christmas lunch. Why not turn my magic potion into a tasty sweet? My mother-in-law is as much of a tea fan as I am, so I knew those little cupcakes would be received enthusiastically at her table.

This recipe requires you to get your hands on some matcha green tea powder: you can easily find it at tea shops, but if that fails, try to hit Asian stores or Chinatown. Matcha is the tea used in the Japanese tea ceremony: its made from a specific kind of green tea and ground into a very fine powder, then whisked with hot water to create the traditional beverage. It's worth noting that it contains three times as much antioxidant as regular green tea, so these cupcakes are just as much health food as they are dessert! Or at least, that's what I keep telling myself... they disappeared in the blink of an eye...

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup milk
2 tablespoons matcha green tea powder (I used Matcha Matsu from David's Tea)
3/4 cup (1 1/2 stick) butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 egg yolk
A few drops almond extract
A few drops vanilla extract

Preheat the over to 350 degrees, and line a muffin pan with cupcake liners. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt together in a medium bowl. Mix the milk and matcha powder and reserve.

In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter and sugar together until fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add the eggs, one at the time, beating well after each addition, finishing with the egg yolk. Mix in a few drops of almond and vanilla extract (1 teaspoon of extract in total does the trick). Add a third of the flour mixture and half of the milk and matcha mixture, and mix well. Add another third of the dry ingredients and the rest of the wet ingredients, mix and finish with the rest of the flour. Mix until just incorporated.

Spoon the batter in the cupcake liners and bake for 22 to 25 minutes, until the top of the cupcakes springs when touched, or until a cake tester comes out clean. Let the cupcakes cool in the pan 5 minutes before moving them to a baking rack, and let them cool completely before icing.

You can add a few drops of green food coloring if you really want your cupcakes to pop bright green, but that is entirely optional: as you can see, the matcha makes the batter quite green without any coloring! They will be perfect Halloween or St-Patrick's Day cupcakes with that gorgeous color...

I am a huge fan of green tea desserts, with green tea ice cream being at the top of my list, and I was delightfully surprised when I tasted the batter and it had that exact delicate-yet-rich flavor: not too sweet and with no hint of the bitterness you sometimes have with green tea. Just the smooth, sophisticated green taste... Those cakes have a soft and moist crumb, and their subtle flavor is absolutely delicious!

I chose a simple green tea glaze (inspired by the recipe in "Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World") for the batch I brought my in-laws:

2 tablespoons butter, room temperature
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/2 teaspoon matcha tea powder
1 to 2 tablespoons milk
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1 drop vanilla extract

With a fork, beat the butter until fluffy in a small bowl. Mix in the confectioners’ sugar and matcha to form a crumbly mixture.

Slowly beat in 1 tablespoon milk, almond extract and vanilla extract. If the icing is too thick to spread, pour in additional milk a teaspoon at the time and mix until the desired consistency is reached.

Use a tablespoon to pour glaze into the center of each cupcakes and spread it out a bit with the back of the spoon. Let the glaze set before serving (refrigerating your glazed cupcakes can help there: place them in an air-tight plastic container and chill them for 30 minutes).

While this glazing is simple, easy to make and very tasty, you could ice these cupcakes in many different ways. A classic cream cheese or buttercream frosting spiked with 1 tablespoon of matcha powder (and colored a brighter green, if you wish) will make spectacular cupcakes!

I made another batch for my New Year's party, and since my friends are chocolate fiends, and since chocolate and green tea are a match made in decadence-and-stress-reducing-heaven, I whipped up a simple but oh-so-rich chocolate ganache to frost the second batch:

9 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon dark rum (optional, but awesome)

Put the chocolate in a medium, heat-proof bowl. Bring the cream just to a boil in a small sauce pan (keep a close eye on it!). When the cream reaches the boiling point, pour it over the chocolate and whisk it until its smooth. Stir in the rum (if using). You can either let it cool slightly before pouring it on the cupcakes (starting in the middle and letting it drip), or if you want a fluffier frosting, let it cool until thick, then whip it up with a whisk until it has the desired texture.

And voila! A lovely, elegant and delicious dessert that should not be over-looked in favor of flashier cupcakes! Remember:

"It's not easy being green,
It seems you blend with so many other ordinary things
And people tend to pass you over 'cause you're
Not standing out like flashy sparkles in the water
Or stars in the sky

But green's the color of spring
And green can be cool and friendly-like
And green can be big like an ocean, or important
Like a mountain or tall like a tree

When green is all there is to be
It could make you wonder why, but why wonder why
Wonder, I am green and it'll do fine, it's beautiful
And I think it's what I want to be"

(Yes, I sing silly songs when I bake and I LOVE the Muppets)

A very happy New Year to all my lovely readers! May it be filled with health, love, prosperity and delicious treats! xxx


  1. Ohh I love this post. And I love the Muppets too... that song has always made me tear up, ever since I was little. But the Rainbow Connection? Flat out tears. And I don't cry... EVER. So that's saying something!

  2. Thank you Marilla! :) "The Rainbow Connection" has the same Niagara Falls-effect on me, too, but I am a weepbag when it comes to movies :P

  3. I think you’d like these too. I love green tea ice cream myself. You can even make green tea ice cream with the same matcha powder used in this recipe – just mix it with softened vanilla ice cream.

    Let me know how these cupcakes turn out for you if you make them. I don’t want the high altitude to mess them up for you again!