Midnight Matcha Bites

Midnight and matcha in the same thought? Doesn’t seem quite right does it? Matcha is hands down the best drink to have in the morning, but as much as I love it I’d definitely tell you to think twice before partaking late in the PM.

Luckily, we aren’t talking about the time of day here, we are talking about an ingredient–one of my favorites–black cocoa. This ultra dark cocoa powder, also known as midnight black cocoa, is known for its incredibly intense color and flavor. It can sometimes be hard to find, but if you know where to look it’s definitely worth the extra effort.

Aside from being rich and sinfully chocolatey in flavor, it’s also earthier than regular cocoa powder is. The unusual charcoal-like color comes from the dutching process, which greatly reduces the cocoa powder’s acidity. Every time I taste black cocoa I’m reminded of Oreos, Devil’s food cake, and whoopie pies…and in my book, this can only be a good thing.

There are few teas that can stand up to a strong, dark flavor like black cocoa and matcha is one of them. The two ingredients actually have similar taste profiles. If you love the bittersweet taste of matcha, then you’ll love the taste of black cocoa powder too. When they are of good quality, both are pleasantly mellow yet intense.

Instead of dusting the bites in pure matcha, I coat them in matcha-laced unsweetened coconut, which helps to balance just the right amount of tea in each bite. The sweet factor comes from super ripe bananas and a touch of honey, which give mild sweetness and bind the dry ingredients into a brownie-like texture.

Enjoy these as an on-the-go breakfast, a mid-day pick me up, or whenever you need a sustained energy boost. If there were ever such a thing, I like to think of these as healthy chocolate truffles. Midnight Matcha Bites are a hearty way to indulge your darkest and most serious chocolate cravings!

Midnight Matcha Bites

Makes 35 balls.

Ingredients:

{Chocolate Energy Balls}

2 bananas, very ripe & mashed

1 cup almond meal

1 cup ground whole oats, ground to a powder in a food processor

3/4 cup whole oats, left whole

1/4 cup chia seeds

1/4 cup ground flax seeds

1/3 cup dried coconut, unsweetened

1/2 cup cocoa powder (I used midnight black cocoa)

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 cup almond butter

1/4 cup honey

2 tsp vanilla

{Coconut Matcha Coating}

1/2 cup dried coconut, unsweetened

1 Tbsp matcha powder

Equipment:

food processor

large mixing bowl

large mixing spoon

cookie scoop with 1 3/4″ diameter (2 Tbsp)

Directions:

1.)  Place the dry Chocolate Energy Ball ingredients in the mixing bowl, then lightly toss together. Add the wet ingredients, then mix everything together thoroughly with the spoon.

2.)  In a small bowl, mix the Coconut Matcha Coating ingredients together. Use your fingers to evenly distribute the matcha with the dried coconut. Set aside.

3.)  Use the cookie scoop to scoop out a 2 Tbsp portion of the Chocolate Energy Ball mixture, then roll it into a smooth ball. Repeat this process to form 30 energy balls/bites. Roll and evenly coat the chocolate balls in the matcha coconut. Store the bites in a sealed box or bag in the fridge.

Chicken & Chive Rolled Crêpes

There’s rarely a meal that I love more than afternoon tea. The only (and like I said, rare) exception is a lively and bountiful brunch. Like afternoon tea, there’s a sense of art and elegance to this culinary merging of eats. A brilliant brunch experience wakes you up, gets you excited, and reminds you to enjoy life.

If you love brunch as much as I do, then you absolutely must check out my friend Tina’s delightful site, The Worktop. Tina specializes in bringing the best of yummy AM~PM eats to her readers, and even has a London Brunch Guide since she’s based out of the UK. Many of her recipes have a healthier twist and some are just plain decadent, but all are equally tempting. My favorites are her adorable Pancake Ice Cream Sandwiches and Chorizo Menemen, also known as Turkish-Style Scrambled Eggs, which is something like a spicy, scoopable omelet. Sounds delicious right!?

Today’s feature on The Worktop are my Chicken & Chive Crêpes. What I love about this recipe is that these tender, stuffed rolls can be made several hours ahead of time. In fact, the filling can even be made the day before you plan on serving. If you’re putting a beautiful weekend brunch spread together, these savory pancakes deliver on deliciousness without causing unnecessary stress in the kitchen.

The secret ingredient in these crêpes is Lapsang Souchong tea steeped in milk, which adds a layer of smokey flavor to the creamy chicken filling. The tea adds depth and richness to a butterless, olive oil roux-based white sauce. With the use of pine-fired tea and fresh chives, the recipe balances darker winter flavors with lively spring ones.

A special thanks to Tina Jui from The Worktop for the chance to guest post! Head over to her site for the complete filling recipe and for a bit of insight into my personal breakfast tastes.

Chicken & Chive Rolled Crêpes

Makes 10 filled crêpes. 

Ingredients:

{Chicken & Chive Filling (for Steps 1 & 2)}

{Crêpes}

2 cups flour

4 eggs

1 cup water

1 cup milk

1/4 cup butter, melted

1/2 tsp salt

2 tsp sugar

non-stick spray

Equipment:

medium pot

large tea filter (I used a T-Sac)

large skillet

blender

10″ crêpe pan

wooden crêpe spreader (I just used the edge of my dough scraper)

spatula

1/2 cup measure

1/4 cup measure

work surface

Directions:

1.)  Flavor the Milk. In a medium pot, bring the 2 cups of milk to a boil. Right when it reaches a boil, turn off the heat and steep the Lapsang Souchong for 5 minutes. It is easiest to do this with a large paper tea filter. After 5 minutes, remove the steeped tea leaves. Set the milk aside.

2.)  Make the Filling. In a large skillet, warm the olive oil until it shimmers. Lower the heat, then sauté the diced shallot until just translucent. Add the flour to the shallots and oil. Cook the flour for a few minutes, until light brown in color. Gradually add the hot milk to the roux, then continue to mix and cook the sauce on low heat until everything is well incorporated and starts simmering. Add the provolone and parmesan to the simmering white sauce. Let it melt completely. Add the white wine and spinach, again mixing to make sure everything is evenly incorporated. Add the diced chicken, nutmeg, and ground pepper to taste. Set this filling aside to cool.

3.)  Make the Crêpe Batter. Place all the crêpe ingredients (except the non-stick spray) in the blender, placing the liquid ingredients in first before adding the dry. Blend until the mixture is lump-free and smooth.

4.)  Cook the Crêpes. Spray the crêpe pan with non-stick spray, then place it on very low heat until the pan gets evenly warm. Pour a 1/2 cup of the batter in the center of the pan, then smooth the batter out to an even thickness with a wooden crêpe spreader. Cook the crêpe for a few minutes on the first side, until it releases from the pan. Check to see that the color of the crêpe underneath is lightly browned, then flip the crêpe over to cook on the other side for a few minutes more. Repeat this step to make 10 crêpes.

5.)  Fill the Crêpes. Place a crêpe on a work surface, then place 1/4 cup of the cooled filling in the bottom 1/3 of the round (the side closest to you), in the center. On top of the crêpe, shape the filling into a 6″ log with a small spoon. Generously scatter some chopped chives over the filling.

Fold the bottom side of the crêpe (the side closest to you) over the filling, then fold in the right and left sides towards the center. Roll the crêpe up tightly, in a sushi roll like fashion, upwards (away from you) until you get a cigar-shaped, filled crêpe roll. Repeat this step to make 10 filled, rolled crêpes. Serve immediately, or make up to a few hours ahead of time.

*** Tip: If the filled crêpes are made ahead of time, cover a plate of crêpes with a large dampened paper towel, then place them in the microwave to warm for a few minutes before serving. The cheese filling will melt and become oozy again.

Fruit & Tea Rainbow Smoothie

Mornings…I dread mornings. Even with a cup of tea, the AM is a rough patch for me. It’s the time of day that I usually reach for some matcha to give me a visual pleasing and flavorful boost.

This Rainbow Smoothie is the deluxe version of my favorite morning cup of matcha–perfect for weekends or when you have a bit of extra time to spare. Layer after layer, it’s packed with fruits, yogurt, green tea, and even some veggies. It’s a special treat for those mornings that need an extra dose of sunshine and vitality.

It took me a few tries to get this recipe right. The key is to get each layer of the Rainbow Smoothie to be about the same thick consistency as the next layer. This assures that each layer can stay in its place without mixing with the smoothie layer before or after it.

I prefer to use frozen fruits or veggies whenever I can so that the smoothie retains a thicker consistency during blending and layering. Following measurement is important here, as is slightly adjusting the amounts of fruit you use depending on their juiciness and weight.
The foolproof way to create this colorful drink is to place each smoothie layer in the serving glass and then directly into the freezer to chill for about 10 minutes before adding the next layer. Use a tablespoon measure to gently lay in each smoothie layer to help the rainbow colors appear even in thickness.

If you want a quick Rainbow Smoothie fix, you can even make these up to a few hours ahead of time with good results. Simply place them in the fridge to chill before serving time. The process is a lot like making a layered jello, where a bit of patience goes a long way. Whip these up using only best quality, organic produce and your mornings with be that much brighter!

Fruit & Tea Rainbow Smoothie

Makes 2- 1 cup smoothies. 

Ingredients:

Purple Layer {1/2 cup frozen blueberries, 1/4 cup regular vanilla yogurt, 2 Tbsp coconut water)

Green Layer {1/3 cup packed kale, 1 rounded tsp matcha powder, 1/4 cup regular vanilla yogurt, 2 Tbsp coconut water}

Yellow Layer {1/2 cup frozen pineapple, 1/4 cup regular vanilla yogurt, 2 Tbsp coconut water}

Orange Layer {1/2 cup frozen mango, 1/4 cup regular vanilla yogurt, 2 Tbsp coconut water}

Pink Layer {1/2 cup frozen raspberries, 1/4 cup regular vanilla yogurt, 2 Tbsp coconut water}

Equipment:

blender (I used my mini one)

serving glasses

Tbsp measure

5 small cups for placing each smoothie color/flavor in before layering

Directions:

1.)  For one color/layer of the smoothie, place all the ingredients into the blender and blend on high, until you get an even consistency. Place the mixture into a small cup, then in the fridge to stay cold. Rinse, shake out, and dry the blender before blending the next smoothie layer. Pour each smoothie color into one small cup.

2.)  Starting with the purple smoothie, carefully spoon about 3 Tbsp of the mixture into each of 2 glasses. Place these glasses into the freezer to chill for about 10 minutes until the layer is softly set.

3.)  After 10 minutes, spoon out the green layer, then chill in the freezer again for 10 minutes. Repeat the spooning and chilling process for the next layers (yellow, orange, and then red) until the smoothie is complete. Enjoy!