Monday, November 10, 2014

Matcha (Green Tea) Cupcakes

I have this amazing matcha that I purchased from Lupicia. It is so good it tastes like a dessert to me. Seriously. I have had bad matcha so I can tell you if you only ever have bad matcha, you will find it difficult to understand the sweet nuances of matcha. So how can you tell if what you have is good matcha?

Thats right... those are bats on the cupcake liners. I just really like that purple background. Take off the flower, add a spider and you have perfect spooky Halloween cupcakes.
First off, bad matcha is pretty cheap. Lupicia offers one kind of matcha from Shizuoka for $16/ 100g. That seems like a crazy good deal. So I bought it. And it was bad.

Good matcha (left) vs bad matcha (right)

How else can you tell? The color. When I opened my 100 g matcha I noticed the color was more brown than bright green. That is a horrible sign. Brown matcha is bad matcha! This matcha is only suitable for maybe adding a bit of color to baked goods. Don't drink it. You will come to hate matcha before realizing its awesomeness.


So, I bought this other matcha from Lupicia; Ujitawara. Lupicia describes this as an "Uji matcha produced by Yasayuki Asakura with the best matcha species." Uji is a matcha producing region, actually the best producing region. Its climate and soil are ideal for producing quality matcha (reference). Matcha is shade grown green tea (the same as the one used for producing gyokuro), which slows down the growth process and causes an increase in chlorophyll production, resulting in darker green leaves. The best buds are harvested and either rolled (to make gyokuro) or laid out flat and dried to make tencha. Tencha is then finely milled to make matcha. The process is time consuming so good quality matcha will naturally cost more.

Inside the petite tin was a sealed foil bag containing all this awesome matcha goodness. 
When I opened it, I knew right away it was going to taste amazing. It has the freshest aroma, very vegetal but sweet. Some of the powder fell on my finger tips and I licked it, knowing it would be tasty. It was sweet, like blended butter lettuce or baby spring mix. If good matcha is butter lettuce then bad matcha is kale (because it is so darn bitter).

I could try to drink it all but the process of making it is so time consuming. So, before it went bad, I decided to make cupcakes. Ideally you want to use good matcha but lower quality matcha will be ok too.

Matcha (Green Tea) Cupcakes Recipe (adapted from Food Network: Cupcake Wars)

Ingredients (makes about 24 medium sized cupcakes)

Matcha cupcake batter
2 1/2 Cup Cake Flour (here is a good substitute with all purpose flour and cornstarch)
1 1/4 Cup Sugar
3 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 Cup 2% milk
1/2 Cup Safflower Oil (or some other vegetable oil)
3 Tbsp Matcha
1 Tsp vanilla extract (I think almond would suit this cupcake better but I ran out awhile back)
2 Eggs

Chantilly Cream
1 Cup heavy cream
1/2 Tsp vanilla extract
1 Tbsp granulated sugar

Directions

1. Set oven to 350 degrees F. Line cupcake pan with liners

2. Sift and whisk the first 4 ingredients in a large bowl (cake flour, sugar, baking powder, salt.

3. In bowl of stand mixer (or a second large bowl), whisk milk and oil

4. Add dry ingredients and fold in (to avoid flour flying everywhere when you start the mixer).

5. Beat for 2 minutes.

6. Add vanilla (or almond) extract and eggs and matcha.
I was a little worried because it looks so runny but it turned out fine. I think I beat it for too long. Try not to do that... 
7. Beat for 2 minutes.

8. Pour mixture into lined baking pan. Fill each cup about 3/4 of the way.

9. Bake for ~15 minutes (rotate pan halfway through).

The green flecks are matcha flakes that did not get incorporated evenly. I like them because they are like matcha sprinkles.
10. While it is baking, make chantilly cream. To do this, put all ingredients in stand mixer bowl and beat until peaks form. Refrigerate until ready to use.

11. When cupcakes are done baking, add cream to a pipping bag and pipe a mini mountain of chantilly. Dust off with a pinch of matcha powder to make it fancy. Add an edible flower to make it super fancy.

12. Enjoy!