Matcha Chocolate Marble Cupcakes

Welcome to Flour de Lisa!  The idea of starting a baking (and occasional cooking) blog has long been a half-formed thought rattling around in my old brain closet, so I’m really excited to finally get this going.

As you might have guessed, my name’s Lisa.  I’m California born and raised but now located in New York City, just like my bottle of wine from last night.  As a premed currently applying to medical schools, my love for medicine definitely carries over into the kitchen.  Nutrition can often be relegated to the unsavory bin of pseudoscience, probably mostly due to the role of media hype in creating runaway nutrition fads, like those ads swearing one miracle food to cure all your ailments.  But cooking, baking, eating, digesting – it’s all very real science.  Food plays such a big role in our lives, more so than ever with the foodie generation on the rise.  To me and many people, food means comfort, sharing, community.  A change or disruption of our diets ultimately can completely change not just individual lifestyles, but also our relationships within a community as a whole.

So I’m sure you’ve realized by now that I LOVE food.  I’m not quite foodie status, mostly because hey, research assistant salary + NYC restaurant prices, but whenever I do treat myself to a night out I make it a point to try a flavor combination or ingredient that I’ve never had before.  What a change from that picky child who would only eat cheeseburgers (hold the ketchup, mustard, onions, lettuce, tomatoes) or plain spaghetti and meatballs!

It seems like not too long ago matcha was a mysterious ingredient only found at Japanese restaurants, either in its original tea form or as the best after-dinner ice cream flavor ever.  Nowadays the matcha madness is catching on as its caffeinated health benefits goodness is becoming more widely known to the American public, but there are plenty of people out there who still have never had their first heavenly taste of smooth, bitter-yet-sweet, cool green tea ice cream.  It’s definitely a flavor that grows on you – herbal, maybe, is the best way to describe it.  Matcha ice cream will always be my favorite matcha-flavored thing, but its refreshing natural greenness and unique fragrance work magic on everything from cookies to souffles…or cupcakes.

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This is the brand and grade of matcha I use in baking, just based on availability in grocery stores in my area.  No need to splurge on Ceremonial grade, Culinary grade is good enough for baking.  It looks small, but a little goes a long way – I’ve been working my way through this particular tin in about half a dozen recipes so far.

So staring down my half-empty tin of matcha one day, the question I found myself asking was what could possibly be better than matcha cupcakes? And of course the answer to everything is: just add chocolate!  But not just chocolate frosting, oh no.  These beautiful spring green cupcakes have an even more gorgeous chocolate swirl running right through them, like a…green zebra.  Or a witch’s brew – yeah, that makes (marginally) more sense.  In fact, these would probably make a fantastic dessert addition to any Halloween party – not that you should wait a whole year before trying them!

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(But what, I hear you say, what about all your grand declarations earlier about the importance of a nutritional lifestyle etc.?  Well, besides the health benefits of flavonoid-rich cocoa such as reducing risk for heart disease – probably completely offset by the butter, oil, and added sugar – I always like to say that chocolate does wonders for the health of your soul 😉 )

Marbling cupcakes is a super fun and easy way to dress up your cupcakes – just alternate plopping in any two of your favorite cupcake batters into the liners and swirl with a toothpick.  Just look at those whimsical swirls (or green zebra stripes)!  Almost made me sad to cover them up with frosting.

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Well, almost.

Mmm, chocolate.

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I didn’t like the way that the confetti-patterned cupcake liners obscured the side marbling, so I peeled some off and replaced with plain white liners just to see how they would look.  I’d recommend baking these cupcakes with plain white liners in the first place though, as a liner-less cupcake is more prone to drying out – woops my bad!

I’ve never been one to reinvent the wheel if it doesn’t need inventing, so I adapted the recipes from a couple of blogs for these cupcakes.  The matcha cupcake batter recipe is adapted from Sweetest Kitchen’s Matcha Strawberry Cupcakes.  In trying out different recipes for matcha cakes and cupcakes, I’ve noticed that they either come out a little dry, not matcha enough, or both.  No such problems with this recipe – these cupcakes are moist, almost rich-tasting, with a fluffy crumb.  The aroma of matcha is practically like a perfume, though the fragrance does unfortunately fade a bit after a few days.  The chocolate cupcake batter and frosting is from The Baker Chick’s Fudgy Dark Chocolate Cupcakes For Two, my go-to for whisking up a quick small batch of rich chocolate cupcakes topped by an equally rich fudgy frosting that pipes beautifully.  The small batch, one-bowl nature of the recipe also adapts nicely to marbled cupcakes since less chocolate batter is needed than the base flavor.

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I also made a couple of plain green tea cupcakes with an azuki (sweet red bean) buttercream, using the frosting recipe from Cupcake Project’s Green Tea Cupcakes with Red Bean Azuki Buttercream Frosting, just for some colorful variety in a birthday girl’s cupcake box 🙂  Red bean and green tea are a classic flavor combination in desserts, plus I always love how green and pink go together – very Wicked-esque.  Yup, witches are definitely on my mind for some reason.  Must be that lingering post-Halloween sugar high.

Matcha Chocolate Marble Cupcakes

makes 16 cupcakes
dairy free/egg free options available

matcha cupcake batter adapted from Sweetest Kitchen

  • 1 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch*
  • 1 cup white granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon matcha powder, culinary grade
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter or vegan butter (reduce salt to 1/4 teaspoon if the latter)
  • 2 large eggs or suitable egg replacement like Ener-G Egg Replacer
  • 1/2 cup milk of choice – I used 2% milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

*instead of flour + cornstarch, you can go with the original recipe which uses 3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons cake flour and 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour.

chocolate cupcake batter from The Baker Chick

  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup white granulated sugar
  • 6 tablespoons dark cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

chocolate frosting from The Baker Chick

  • 3/4 cup of unsalted butter, softened, or vegan butter
  • 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons dark cocoa powder
  •  1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  1. Preheat the oven to 325 F and prep a cupcake pan with liners.
  2. For the green tea cupcake batter: whisk the dry ingredients (flour, cornstarch, sugar, baking powder, salt, matcha powder) in a bowl so that its well-mixed and aerated/fluffy.
  3. Cube the butter and add to the dry ingredients.  Mix by hand, so the dry ingredients don’t go flying everywhere, until the butter is broken down into “peanut-sized or a little smaller” to quote the original recipe.
  4. Add wet ingredients (egg, milk, and vanilla) into the dry and mix by hand or electric on medium speed until all ingredients are just combined – don’t overmix, as overworking the flour will lead to tough dense cupcakes.  I would suggest using an electric hand mixer as it’s easier to incorporate the remaining butter chunks that way.
  5. For the chocolate cupcake batter: just throw all the ingredients into a separate bowl and mix by hand until all ingredients are just combined.  I’m being completely serious.  It’s actually that easy.
  6. Assemble the cupcakes: alternate spooning the matcha batter and the chocolate batter into the prepared cupcake liners until about 2/3 full.  To keep the cupcake sizes consistent, my method was approximately 1 1/2 tablespoon matcha batter, then 1 tablespoon chocolate batter, then 1/2 tablespoon matcha batter for a total of roughly 3 tablespoons of batter per liner.  You don’t need to be too exact.
  7. Using a toothpick, gently drag through the top of the batter to swirl the two batters together.
  8. Bake cupcakes on a middle rack at 325 F for 17-20 minutes, or when a toothpick inserted in the middle of a cupcake comes out clean with a few crumbs.  Mine took exactly 18 minutes.
  9. While the cupcakes are baking/cooling, mix the frosting.  Again, it’s as easy as throwing all the ingredients in a bowl and mixing by hand.  Just be careful of the sugar and cocoa flying around before you get it creamed in!
  10. You can add more powdered sugar or a few drops of water if the frosting seems too runny or thick respectively.
  11. Once cupcakes are completely cooled (room temperature or colder), then frost with the method of your choosing.  To pipe a rose-like swirl as pictured, I used a large star tip and swirled from the center outward.  Our Best Bites provides a fantastic tutorial for basic cupcake frosting.
  12. Serve immediately and enjoy, or store cupcakes in an airtight container, at room temperature if the weather allows or in the fridge if it’s hot where you live (else the frosting will melt).

Nutritional description: Not the worst thing ever, but indulgent.  Look, there’s totally an argument to be made that the matcha + dark cocoa combo is a pow-bam antioxidant fiesta, but let’s be real: these are still a no-excuses-made dessert.  Enjoy in moderation – but enjoy every bite.

Nutritional information (calculated without vegan substitutions): Calories 372, Total Fat 17.1g, Saturated Fat 9.5g, Cholesterol 65.2mg, Carbs 52.8g, Fiber 1.7g, Sugars 20.9g, Protein 3.8g, Sodium 330mg


2 thoughts on “Matcha Chocolate Marble Cupcakes

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