Wow, I can’t believe I’ve been gone for so long! I’ve been quite busy the last few months. I got married in September and just got back from my honeymoon to Maui, O’ahu, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. Before all that happened, I took an impromptu trip up to Pittsburgh to visit my bridesmaid, Stephanie. I was a bit hesitant to make the drive all by myself, but after a grueling bus trip last October, I was convinced that driving would be better.
Stephanie’s birthday is also in August, so I took the opportunity to make an attempt at a super cute Pocky cake from Sprinkle Bakes. My version turned out pretty well, though when frosting the cake I accidentally mis-aligned the layers, which affected the way the pocky sticks stacked.
I like a strong green tea flavor, so I used about a cup of organic matcha powder between the cake and frosting. Paired with the dark chocolate and yuzu filling, this was the perfect light and refreshing cake to snack on after a long drive.
About the matcha I used: Sugimoto America is a complete supplier of Japanese green tea and a subsidiary of Sugimoto Seicha, a Japanese green tea company founded in 1946. Based out of Seattle, they were nice enough to send me some great samples of their product, including some powders to bake with.
Their tea is grown and harvested on the mountain slopes of Shizuoka, the tea capital of Japan. All of their tea is blended, roasted, and packed by Tea Maestro Sugimoto, who received the Agricultural Minister Award in 1986.
I usually don’t do anything for St. Patrick’s Day other than wear something green to avoid being pinched. This year, the holiday fell on a weekend and a delicious recipe popped up in my RSS Feed – these Matcha Green Tea Cupcakes from Oishii Treats.
I’ve been wanting to make green tea cupcakes for a while, but have been a bit wary. Green Tea is an acquired taste and I was worried how these would go over with my taste testers.
I replaced half of the flour the recipe called for with whole wheat flour, which went well with the earthiness of the matcha, though it probably kept the cake from being more green. I also used almond milk instead of regular milk. Since green tea is an acquired taste, I opted to swirl the frosting so that it’d be half matcha and half regular cream cheese frosting. This kept the cupcake from being a matcha-overload while adding a nice flair.
The best thing about these cupcakes are the smell. I love the way they smelled coming out of the oven and when I opened my carrier up to bring them in to the office. You’ll definitely want to use a nice quality matcha since they’re the star ingredient here. And, this is the way that you’re getting a dose of green, naturally!
Even though I was making 4 types of Christmas cookies, my office wouldn’t get to try any of them, so I whipped these up on a weeknight after seeing them on my friend Olga’s blog. I decided to make the pistachio cookies more festive by adding some red dried cranberries and some zingy crystallized ginger. I thought I was pretty clever turning these into Christmas-colored cookies.
Sometimes I think that chocolate is often used as a crutch in baking. It takes a really good hand to be able to make something delicious without chocolate in it that everyone will enjoy. These cookies had a firm yet delicate crumb and were extremely flavorful. I like that each bite had a bit of something else in it, an element of surprise, but some people don’t like that.
While these cookies were baking, I realized I had some chopped pistachios, cranberries, and ginger left over. I combined these with some leftover chopped hazelnuts from my homemade nutella and thought they’d make a delicious topping for one of my favorite things to make – pumpkin bread (or muffins). I scooped the bread batter into these odd shaped Panibois Baking Molds and hoped for the best, checking them often since they held varying sizes of batter. I couldn’t taste them after they baked (obviously), but I wrapped them up in cute snowflake cello-wrap and tied them with twine. I gave some to my family and some to co-workers. I’d like to think this is a more tasty version of a fruitcake, but pumpkin!