Back in ’99 Jeff and I had our first apartment together in Allston, the student ghetto of Boston. A place where the ads for apartments literally read something like “Nice ground level apartment right off Harvard Street- Roll out of bed and into the bars!” (not joking.) There was vomit on the sidewalk outside our building every Sunday morning without fail but we were happy to have our own place in that giddy, ridiculous way that two people who are way too young to know anything at all often are. I was working full time at Whole Foods (then Bread and Circus) and was thrilled to pieces to be paid $9.50 an hour AND get a discount on expensive groceries. I thought I really had it made.
At the time, I was exploring a number of alternative eating styles and Jeff endured each of them without uttering a single complaint. My job enabled to me to access new and exciting ingredients like tempeh, seaweed, agar flakes, lotus root, daikon radish, Braggs liquid amino acids, and GREEN TEA. Green tea was like a revelation. For some reason I have little or no recollection of now, it seemed to us at the time to be the magical elixir of life. As I dove head first into Macrobiotics and all the joys that it contained (think boiled salads and enough brown rice to sink a battleship), we must’ve consumed gallons of the stuff. ‘Round the clock, Jeff and I (and the yogi we rented our alcove to — more on him later) drank green tea and contemplated deep things, deeply. Until one day I just ran out of exciting recipes for adzuki beans and miso paste and it was time to move on.
Although we now have much fewer qualms about consuming our salads raw and throwing a little sugar into our baked goods from time to time, we still do love green tea around here and drink it most days. And now, thanks to the wonders of fusion cuisine and the total breakdown of the gastronomic cultural divide, we can have the best of both worlds with these Green Tea Cupcakes from Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World. Namaste and happy eating.
Green Tea Cupcakes with Green Tea Glaze and Almond Flowers, adapted from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World
Makes 12 cupcakes
for the cupcakes:
1/2 cup soy yogurt
2/3 cup rice milk (I used unsweetened soy milk)
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup canola oil
1/2 tsp almond extract
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour (I used 3/4 cup whole wheat pastry and 1/2 cup all purpose)
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
3 – 4 tsp matcha tea powder (I used 3 tsp and it was plenty) see note
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup sugar (I used 1/2 cup and it was plenty sweet)
Preheat the oven to 350 F and line cupcake pan with paper liners.
In a large bowl, whisk together the yogurt, rice milk, vanilla, oil and almond extract, beating well to blend. In another bowl, sift (mix with a whisk) the flour, baking powder, baking soda, matcha tea powder, salt and sugar. Fold the dry ingredients into the wet until just combined. Fill liners JUST 2/3 full and bake 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of one of the cupcakes comes out clean. Cool completely before topping with glaze.
for the glaze:
2 Tbs margarine
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/8 – 1/4 tsp matcha tea powder
1- 2 Tbs rice milk (I used soy)
1/4 tsp almond extract
drop of vanilla extract
With a fork, beat the margarine to fluff, the mix in confectioners’ sugar and matcha powder to form a crumbly mixture. Slowly beat in 1 Tbs rice milk, almond and vanilla extracts. If icing is too thick to spread add a little (one tsp at a time) more rice milk and mix until desired consistency is reached. Be aware that this recipe makes JUST enough glaze, so resist the urge to eat it until you make sure you have enough to spread on the cupcakes.
for the flowers:
1/4 cup marzipan (comes in a tube in the baking aisle, you will want to press it to make sure it is fresh- if it is, you will be able to squeeze it and feel it give)
Very small drop of red food coloring
Dragees (small silver or gold sugar balls for the center of the flowers. I did not use them and I think my cupcakes still look pretty spiffy)
Keep a small bowl of confectioners’ sugar handy near your workspace. Knead marzipan with a drop of food coloring; if it gets too sticky, dip fingers into the powdered sugar. When color is incorporated, dust a smooth surface with some confectioners’ sugar. Pat out dough into a thin round (I used a rolling pin, it was much more effective) and cut out small flower shapes. You can use a flower-shaped cutter, or just get creative with a small knife.
Assembling the cupcakes:
Use a small spoon (or two) to drop a little glaze onto the center of each cooled cupcake. Spread out a bit with the back of a spoon (you can leave the edges of the cupcake showing a bit, it’s pretty). Gently set flowers onto wet glaze. You may want to have flowers all cut out and ready to go, because it is harder to make them stick as glaze begins to harden. Let glaze set before serving.
Note about Matcha Powder: Matcha powder is very finely ground green tea leaves. Japanese, Korean and pan-asian stores will have it in in the frozen section (it should be frozen for freshness). It comes in a small, cute metal tin. Make sure the kind you are buying does not have any added sugar. You can also use it to make green tea ice cream, mmmm.