"Green tea-flavored desserts are very popular in Japan. Green tea works so well in cakes, combined with either vanilla or chocolate. It's important to use green tea powder called 'matcha'."
- The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook
For the Chocolate-Green Tea Cake Base:
(makes 10 - 12 cupcakes)
- 1/2 cup whole milk
- 3 green tea bags
- 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour (for sea-level, reduce to 3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon)
- 2 1/2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
- a scant 3/4 cup sugar
- 3/4 teaspoon baking powder (for sea-level, increase to 1 1/2 teaspoons)
- a pinch of salt
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 egg, at room temperature
- 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
For the Green Tea Buttercream Frosting:
(enough for 12 cupcakes)
- 2 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
- 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 2 1/2 tablespoons matcha green tea powder
- 2 tablespoons whole milk
The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook's Green Tea Cupcakes Recipe
(Adapted for a high-altitude environment of approximately 5,000 ft)
*different for sea-level; check ingredients list above
- Put 1/2 cup milk and 3 green tea bags in a liquid measuring cup, cover, and refrigerate for a few hours, or overnight if possible.
- Preheat the oven to 350 (F); for sea-level, preheat the oven to 325 (F).
- Put the 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons flour*, 2 1/2 tablespoons cocoa, 3/4 cup sugar, 3/4 teaspoon baking powder*, pinch of salt, and 3 tablespoons butter in a freestanding electric mixer with a paddle attachment (or use a handheld electric whisk) and beat on slow speed until you get a sandy consistency and everything is combined.
- Remove the green tea bags from the infused milk and strain into the measuring cup.
- Combine the milk with 1 egg and 1/4 teaspoon vanilla; whisk the mixture together.
- Slowly pour half the milk/egg/vanilla mixture, beating well until all the ingredients are well mixed. Turn the mixer up to high speed and beat to make sure there are no lumps.
- Turn the mixture down to medium-slow and slowly pour in the remaining milk mixture, scraping any unmixed ingredients from the side of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Continue mixing for a couple more minutes until the batter is smooth.
- Spoon the batter into paper cases lined in a muffin tin until each case is two-thirds full. Bake in the preheated oven for 20 - 25 minutes, or until the cake bounces back when touched. A skewer inserted in the center of a cupcake should come out clean.
- Let the cupcakes cool slightly in the pan before turning out into a wire rack to cool completely. When the cupcakes are cold, spoon Green Tea Buttercream Frosting (recipe follows) on top and decorate accordingly.
The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook's Green Tea Buttercream Frosting Recipe
(For All Altitudes)
- Beat together 2 cups confectioners' sugar, 5 tablespoons butter, and 2 1/2 tablespoons matcha green tea powder in a freestanding electric mixer with a paddle attachment (or use a handheld electric whisk) on medium-slow speed until the mixture comes together and is well mixed.
- Turn the mixer down to a slower speed, and slowly pour in 2 tablespoons whole milk.
- When the milk is completely incorporated, turn the mixer up to high speed. Continue beating until the frosting is light and fluffy, at least 5 minutes.
Tips & Addendums
- Watch out! This recipe requires a few hours (or, more preferably, 24 hours) of prep time in advance to infuse the milk with green tea flavor. Don't get caught blindsided by the recipe! Before I start baking, I also like to bring the infused tea down to room temperature. I find that it helps bring the batter together more too. Just something to keep in mind.
- Denver residents -- matcha green tea powder is available at the Pacific Mercantile Company in downtown LoDo. Be sure to get the industrial or culinary grade matcha; ceremonial grade is significantly more expensive! My friend wrote a great post explaining the differences between the two grades here.
- This recipe only requires a teeny bit of baking powder; be sure your baking powder is fresh or your cupcakes will be small and sunken and won't rise nicely in the oven. A good way of checking if your baking powder is still fresh, stir about 1/4 teaspoon of powder into 1/2 cup of VERY hot water. If the powder starts to bubble, you're good to go.
- All spoon measurements are level and unsifted unless otherwise specified. To level the ingredients, take the back of a knife and run it across the top of the measuring cup until the excess ingredients are scraped off.
- Liquid and dry measuring cups are different; please make sure you use the appropriate measuring cup for each ingredient.
- After adding milk to the flour mixture, don't overbeat as this will overwork the flour and make the cake dense. Simply beat until the milk and eggs have just been incorporated. In my opinion, making sure you don't overbeat the batter is one of the hardest parts about baking.
- I like to use a 1 tablespoon-sized cookie scoop to divide the cupcake batter evenly between cases. For this recipe, I put 2 tablespoons of cupcake batter in each case.
- Do not open your oven until at least the minimum time recommended has passed. Too much cold air coming from a frequently opened oven door causes irregular oven temperatures, which then affect the baking process.
- Specifically for the frosting: the longer you beat the frosting, the fluffier and lighter it becomes.
- Again, to ensure consistency, I like to use a 1 tablespoon-sized cookie scoop to measure out 1 tablespoon of frosting for each cupcake.
- Frost your cupcakes immediately after you have made the frosting. If you let the frosting sit out too long, it will start to crust and you will have a hard time frosting your cupcakes. However, make sure your cupcakes are completely cooled before frosting, or they'll turn out soggy.
- To get the "tea bag" cupcakes you see in these pictures, simply cut the labels/strings from your green tea bags. I used the labels of the tea bags that I used to infuse the milk with. Place the end of the string on top of the pre-frosted cupcake, and then scoop a generous pile of frosting on top. The weight of the frosting will help keep the string in place. Frost as you normally do. Voila! You have adorable "tea bag" cupcakes.