Monday, September 1, 2014

Matcha Cupcakes + Lemon Buttercream = Absolute Bliss

Ever since I've been on a mission to eat healthier, I started to cut out many bad habits from my daily life. Drinking soda ( diet or regular ), McDonald's and staying up until 5 AM. Yes I lived with insomnia for the longest time and cutting out my morning coffee helped big time! 

I also decided to decrease my intake of things like white flour, white rice and other simple carbs to a bare minimum. Not only do these things help me keep my weight in check, they also make me feel better. 

Still as most of my friends know, I love food and sweets are one thing that I cannot and will not give up. Ever! And I'm serious about this! Period!!! So while it's true that I never skip desserts, I got into the habit of making them myself. 

The great thing about cooking is that you know exactly what goes into your mouth. It's all about control and as long as you know what you're doing, you should be OK. As far as I'm concerned, an occasional trip to Magnolia Bakery is not going to kill you. 

Green tea has been touted for its incredible health benefits for many years now, but the Japanese have been drinking tea for centuries. Not only is it an incredibly refreshing drink, Matcha ( powdered green tea ) is also used as an ingredient in cooking. 

For example, high-end tempura restaurants in Japan will usually have a salt-and-matcha mixture to dip the tempura into. However my favorite way of consuming Matcha is in the form of sweet and yummilicious desserts. 

Earlier this year, I became obsessed ( as I tend to do with things I love ), with cupcakes and started baking my own on a regular basis. Actually, I take that back. My obsession with cupcakes more probably started earlier, perhaps sometime around the summer of 2009 on a trip to Los Angeles. I had the most life-changing red velvet cupcake there and ever since, I've been a cupcake lover. 

So one day, I decided to combine the two into one fabulous dessert. 

As everybody who bakes knows, getting a cupcake perfect is not always easy, especially when experimenting with new flavors. In fact, I had to tweak this recipe three times before I landed on the precise formula for perfect matcha cupcakes.

On my first try, I made the mistake of using the cheapest brand I could find at the local supermarket. The result was a batch of tasteless cupcakes that looked better than they tasted. What did I do with them you ask? They went straight into the bin.

On my second try, they turned out better. However I wasn't completely satisfied with the combination of matcha cake and matcha frosting. It was simply too much matcha. Green tea overkill! Straight-forward green tea taste with no hidden agenda. Boring!

On my third try, I finally got it right! I decided to combine the tartness of lemon to balance out the earthy flavor of the Matcha powder as well as to counteract the sweetness of the frosting. A final sprinkling of Matcha powder and fresh lemon zest on the top completed my masterpiece. 

I probably could have eaten the entire batch of 24 cupcakes myself, but I'm not crazy enough to let myself die from cupcake overload. Instead, I sent a dozen of them away to friends after a successful albeit drunk dinner party at home. 

What did I do with the other dozen? Honestly? It's hard to admit here after all that talk about healthy eating habits, but I devoured them all by myself in two days. Yes, I am a glutton but when it comes to cupcakes this good, I simply don't care!

Matcha Cupcakes with Lemon Frosting


Matcha Cupcakes:
2 1/3 cups flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3 tablespoons Matcha powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter, softened
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2/3 cup milk

Lemon Frosting: 
6 cups confectioner's sugar
2/3 cup butter, softened
2 tablespoons lemon zest
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2-3 tablespoons milk as needed

lemon zest
matcha powder


1. Preheat oven to 350F. Line muffin pans with baking cups. 
2. In a bowl, mix the flour, baking powder, salt and matcha. Set aside.
3. In a separate large bowl, beat butter until smooth.
4. Gradually add granulated sugar, about 1/4 cup at a time. Beat for 2 more minutes. 
5. Add the eggs into the butter mixture and mix until smooth.
6. Add the flour mixture and milk 1/3 at a time, beating each time until just blended. 
7. Fill each baking cup 2/3 full.
8. Bake for 20-25 minutes and toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
9. Cool the cupcakes completely. 
10. To make the frosting, mix the confectioner's sugar and butter with electric mixer or spoon in a large bowl. 
11. Stir in the lemon juice and lemon zest.

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Using the best-quality matcha is crucial for best-tasting results. Some of the best green teas come from the Uji region of Kyoto, Japan. Using only the best parts of the tea leaf, teas from this region impart superior flavor and is high in antioxidants.


As always, your comments are appreciated. Thanks!