Lemon Matcha Mints

A few years ago I came across green tea flavored mints. At the time, I remember thinking “Wow, how fancy!” Of course, I had to get a box, but after trying them I was disappointed…where was all that promised earthy green tea flavor? With some gumpaste leftover from my cake projects and good quality matcha on hand, I decided to take a shot at making some tea mints of my own today.

Why would you bother making mints at home? The simple answer is that these are a perfect treat for the matcha enthusiast. You’ll be able to use only the best quality tea here, and it’s an added bonus that these portable matcha mints make it easy for you to enjoy the refreshing taste of matcha anywhere you want!

Today I’m using Mizuba Tea’s Daily Matchaboth in these mints and also to coat them. It’s not the cheapest to use drinking quality matcha in a recipe, but because the matcha here is eaten straight up in a peppery mint, it’s flavor can be fully appreciated. The moment the mint hits your tongue, you’ll taste pure powdery matcha, just the ingredient you need to give your mints a clean, bright tea flavor.

The hardest part of this recipe is punching the mints out. Since you have to do this one at a time, the task can feel quite mechanical, but it’s also relaxing (and faster) once you get a good groove going. The best part of the mint-making process is dusting them with a small bowl of fresh matcha powder in the finishing step. No sifter needed here, just use your fingers to shake of any excess matcha from the mints…the more matcha that clings on to the candies, the better!

Once the mints have dried completely hard, you can place them in small metal tins. I found these round tins in the wedding favor section of my local craft store, where you’ll find many other shapes and sizes of tins choose from in addition to these. A tie of baker’s twine around a clear tin filled matcha mints creates an instantly charming and colorful little party favor.

Remember to make these Lemon Matcha Mints with only the best matcha you can find! When your taste buds need a bit of freshening during the course of the day, these mints deliver a bright and lively pop of pure tea flavor.

Lemon Matcha Mints

Makes 1 cup of mints.

Ingredients:

1/2 lb. gumpaste

4 tsp matcha powder (I used Mizuba Tea’s Daily Matcha)

2 tsp lemon juice powder or a few drops of lemon oil

1/2 tsp peppermint extract

Equipment:

small bowl

rolling-pin

mini fondant cutters or sharp knife

straw

work surface

parchment paper

Directions:

1.)  Knead 2 tsp of matcha and 2 tsp of lemon powder into the gumpaste. If the gumpaste is too stiff, put it in the microwave for 10 seconds to soften it. Knead until the powders are evenly incorporated into the gumpaste.

2.)  Add the extract to the gumpaste, then knead it in thoroughly. If the gumpaste gets too stiff, you can again place it in the microwave for 10 seconds to soften.

3.)  Roll the gumpaste out with the rolling-pin on a work surface lighty dusted with matcha. Roll the gumpaste to a thickness of 1/4″. Place the other 2 tsp of the matcha in a small bowl. Dust each cutter into the matcha. Punch out mints from the rolled gumpaste. If the mints stick to the cutters, use the end of a straw to push them out. You can also cut the mints out with a sharp knife into 1/4″ squares.

4.)  Place mints into the small bowl with the matcha and roll them around. Remove the mints from the bowl, shaking off any excess matcha back into the bowl. Place the mints on a sheet of parchment to dry until completely hardened, preferably for at least 12 hours or overnight before packing.

Matcha Mojitos

I don’t normally drink many alcoholic beverages, but when I do mojitos are my drink of choice. I like that mojitos taste light and crisp without tasting overly sweet, and I also like that the ingredients used to make these cocktails are not the least bit fussy or hard to get.

There’s really nothing to making a mojito, which makes it perfect for a Monday evening wind down. It’s typical to use a muddler to mash up the mint and lime wedges of this drink, but since I don’t have one of those I’ve taken a shortcut to extract the flavors out of the ingredients. In the first step of the recipe I use hot water to create a smooth honey simple syrup. I then use the residual heat from the water not only to brew my matcha but also to help wilt and release flavor from the mint leaves. It’s an untraditional method that does a great job of melding all of this mojito’s refreshing flavors together.

The matcha in this recipe will give the mojito more body and a gentle bitterness which is balanced by the sweet honey. As always, an added benefit of the matcha is that it will give you a bit of extra pep to get you through the rest of your day (or evening). Matcha Mojitos are the drink to have when your day has been tireless and exhausting. Smooth and crisp with just a bit of edge to it, this simple cocktail is a refreshing finish to any hot and busy summer day.

Matcha Mojito

Makes 1 drink.

Ingredients:

2 tsp honey

1 Tbsp hot water

1 tsp matcha powder, sifted

1 sprig of mint (5 leaves)

1 lime, cut into 4 wedges

6-7 large ice cubes

3 Tbsp rum, chilled

6 Tbsp club soda, chilled

Equipment:

large glass

sifter

spoon or muddler

Directions:

1.)  Pour the honey into a large glass (the one that you plan on serving with), then add 1 Tbsp of hot water and stir until you get a thinned honey water. Add the sifted matcha, then mix with spoon until the matcha is thoroughly incorporated and there are no lumps.

2.)  Squeeze the juice from each lime wedge into the mixture, then throw 2 of the wedges into the mixture (discard the other 2). Add the mint leaves to the matcha honey mixture, then slightly crush the leaves and lime wedges with the back of the spoon.

3.)  Add the rum, then mix again. Add the ice cubes, then top off with club soda and give the Matcha Mojito one last mix before serving.

Matcha Chocolate Chips

I’m always looking for the latest and greatest in gourmet baking items.  I loved it when semi-sweet and milk chocolate chips evolved into the dark and super dark kind.  Next came peanut butter and cinnamon chips, which were fun for making new flavors of tarts and scones.  One of my friends got me into mint baking chips–a nice addition for a pop of freshness and color, especially in chocolate baked goods.  And of course there are white chocolate chips, the most plain yet most versatile of chocolate chips that you will find.  Any macadamia nut cookie just wouldn’t be the same without them.  But hello!  Where are the matcha chocolate chips?  Now you know that’s a good idea!

Matcha chocolate chips are the chips that I wish I could buy at the market but aren’t available. There’s something about the slightly bitter taste of matcha that cuts through the cloying sweetness of white chocolate to create a more complex and balanced taste on the palette. Chocolate chip cookies, ice cream, ganache…with these Matcha Chocolate Chips the possibilities are endless.

At the World Tea Expo, I was offered some samples of Aiya’s Cooking Grade Matcha, and ended up using it to make these chips.  Cooking grade matcha is a much more affordable version of ceremonial drinking matcha.  As it is used as an ingredient and not meant to be drunk on its own, it’s a lesser quality grade of matcha tea.  Be cautious when purchasing it though, as some brands are dull in color which often translates to a lack of flavor.  I like Aiya’s Cooking Grade Matcha not only because you can get it at a very reasonable price, but also because of its brilliant color and lovely taste.  It’s a great find for someone who uses matcha to cook with as often as I do.  If you prefer, Aiya also carries Organic Cooking Grade Matcha.

If you work fast and can take the heat on your hand, these chips may look more like buttons than chips when you pipe them.  “Buttons” have a more rounded top, whereas “chips” have a little peak to them.  The hotter the chocolate when you pipe it, the more likely these matcha bits will look like buttons.  As the chocolate cools, it’s able to create more pronounced peaks since cooler chocolate holds shape better.

The first time I heard of chocolate chips being referred to as “buttons” was when I was watching Nigella Lawson make some sinfully decadent chocolate chip cookies on the BBC.  I remember falling in love with the word instantly, much preferring it over the word “chips.” Buttons, chips, drops…whatever you decide to call them, this recipe will add a world of possibilities to your baking repertoire.

Matcha Chocolate Chips 

Makes 1 cup of chips (buttons).

Ingredients:

5 1/2-6 ounces white chocolate or vanilla candy melts

1 Tbsp matcha powder (I used Aiya Cooking Grade Matcha)

Equipment:

double boiler

rubber spatula

fine mesh strainer or sifter

#5 pastry tip

pastry bag

large drinking glass

large baking sheet fitted with parchment paper

Directions:

1.)  Fill bottom of double boiler with water, making sure the water doesn’t make contact with the base of the top bowl of the double boiler.  Bring water to a gentle simmer (bring water to boil, then reduce to very low heat).  Place white chocolate or candy melts in top bowl of double boiler.  Using rubber spatula, gently mix and melt the chocolate.

2.)  Sift matcha into the melted chocolate and mix in thoroughly.

3.)  In pastry bag fitted with #5 pastry tip, pour the melted chocolate.  It’s easiest to fill the bag by folding the tip over and placing the bag in a glass before filling it with the chocolate.  You will have more control over the chocolate flowing out this way.

4.)  Secure parchment paper to a large baking sheet by placing dabs of the same melting chocolate on the bottom four corners of the parchment.  Smooth out the parchment so that it is well secured to the sheet and laying completely flat on it.

5.)  Pipe 1/4″ dollops of melted matcha chocolate on the baking sheet so that the chips don’t touch each other.  If you are working with candy melts you will need to pipe faster than if you use white chocolate (candy melts set up/harden faster).

6.)  Wait for the chips to completely harden, then release them from the parchment by gently pulling the parchment up from each of the 4 corners towards the center of the baking sheet.  Use the chips/buttons in any recipe, as you would chocolate chips.

Chocolate Chip Matcha Mug Cake

I’m very excited to share with you my Matcha Monday post this week!  I’ve put together a super simple recipe for a Chocolate Chip Matcha Mug Cake that’s a total no brainer to whip up.  Less than 2 minutes in the microwave and you’ll end up with the most delicious and moist matcha cake ever!

This recipe is a nice way to try using matcha as a cooking ingredient for the first time.  You’ll be able to appreciate how cooking with matcha helps to balance out sweeter flavors, which is exactly why you see it used in so many cake and cookie recipes.

If you never try any of the other recipes from my site, I hope you try this one.  It represents everything I love about matcha green tea, where a traditional ingredient is enjoyed in a unique, easy, and modern way.

Chocolate Chip Matcha Mug Cake

Makes 1 mug cake or 2 smaller teacup cakes

Equipment:

microwave safe mug or 1 large mug and 2 smaller teacups

paper towel

fork, for mixing

measuring spoons

tea towel

Ingredients:

4 Tbsp all-purpose flour

3 Tbsp sugar

1 tsp matcha powder

1/4 tsp baking soda

3 Tbsp almond milk

1 Tbsp vegetable oil, plus a bit more for oiling mug/cups

1/4 tsp vanilla extract

1 drop almond extract

2 Tbsp mini chocolate chips, plus a few more for decorating the top of the mug cake

Directions:

1.)  Lightly coat the inside of the mug/cups with vegetable oil, to create a non-stick inner surface.  You can use a paper towel to do this.

2.)  Place all dry ingredients in the large mug and mix with a fork thoroughly.

3.)  Add the liquid ingredients, then again mix with the fork thoroughly.  Add 2 Tbsp of the chocolate chips, then mix those in so that they are evenly distributed.  At this point, if you prefer to serve the cakes in 2 smaller teacups, divide the batter between the 2 teacups evenly.

4.)  Place the large mug in the microwave and cook on high for 1 minute and 40 seconds.  For 2 smaller teacups, cook them for 1 minute and 30 seconds.

5.)  With a tea towel, carefully remove the hot mug/cups from the microwave.  Scatter the remaining chocolate chips on top of the cake and serve!