Chocolate can be found in our house at pretty much any time of the year, but chocolate at Christmas is an absolute must. I try and make at least one new festive chocolate recipe each year to give to friends or family and this year I’m delighted to have come up with this Christmas chocolate bark. It’s a layer of dark chocolate covered with a swirled mix of matcha and cranberry white chocolate. It’s delicious.
I was innocently having a quick catch-up on Facebook before getting down to the more serious business of writing up a recipe, when I noticed a scone post from Johanna, at Green Gourmet Giraffe. She alerted me to the fact it was International Scone Week. Well really, I couldn’t let another year go by without marking the occasion. The post I was going to write has now been put on hold so that I can get the the recipe for spelt scones with health giving kefir, matcha green tea & honey published before it’s too late. As the old saying goes: here today, scone tomorrow.
It’s been a while since I made anything with matcha and when CT bought me a tin of it for my birthday I reckoned it was time to do more than just drink it. This easy recipe for matcha green tea cheesecake pots with blueberries popped into my head and before I quite knew what I was about, they were made.
Pancakes are always a treat, but I have a particularly soft spot for savoury pancakes. My dinner time treat, when I was a child, was wholemeal pancakes with cheese sauce – utter bliss. These pea protein pancakes include matcha for flavour and colour and are served with a spicy peanut sauce. They are vegan, gluten free and most importantly, tasty.
As some of you may have noticed, since trying matcha in baking a few years ago, with this matcha, rhubarb and chocolate cake, I’ve become rather a fan. Matcha, which is somewhat bitter with umami notes offsets the sweetness of the sugar nicely. I was recently overtaken by a craving for something sweet and I realised I’d never made matcha blondies. Game, set and matcha.
Christmas is traditionally a time for baking biscuits and I usually make the most of it. I tend to make an old favourite or two, but also use the occasion to try out a some new recipes. One of them, this time, was to be Christmas Butter Biscuits.
As some of you may know, I’ve been drinking matcha for the last few days. I’m taking part in the teapigs #MatchaChallenge which involves consuming half a teaspoon of this amazing green tea every day for two weeks. High time to have a change from just drinking matcha and get baking with it too, I reckoned. I wanted to make something that was portable, would fit in a lunch box and was not too unhealthy. Matcha biscuits with spelt flour and dark chocolate chips were my solution to this conundrum. Rather than incorporate chocolate throughout, I chose the chips so the beautiful green colour could shine through.
As soon as I started creaming the butter and sugar, I realised I should have used coconut oil and rapadura instead. This would have given an even healthier and no less delicious new year matcha cookie. Oh well, next time.
The biscuits turned out just as I’d hoped, crunchy on the outside and soft in the middle with a lovely green hue to them. Annoyingly, I couldn’t get this to show in the photographs. There was no mistaking the matcha flavour which went well with the dark chocolate. The spelt gave a slight nuttiness and bizarrely the biscuits almost tasted of peanut butter. Manageing to eat two and half large cookies to get my required half teaspoon, was a little much, even for me; a hot cup of matcha tea remedied the situation.
Tea Time Treats has gone off piste this month and is actually all about lunch boxes rather than a groaning tea table. These biscuits (or cookies if you prefer) work well, both in a lunch box and for tea. CT can attest to both. Hosted this month by Janie over at The Hedge Combers, Karen of Lavender and Lovage will be taking a keen interest too.
With matcha to the fore, I reckon these qualify for this month’s Treat Petite, which is all about Healthy Treats. This is hosted by Cakeyboi alternating with The Baking Explorer.
Innovation and Discoveries is the theme for The Biscuit Barrel this month. Having felt rather forlorn last month when I baked something for this challenge, only to find it wasn’t there, I am now super excited to find that Alexandra over at The Lass in the Apron is holding the fort whilst Laura from I’d Much Rather Bake Than … finishes off her degree. Very sensible.
- 100g unsalted butter
- 100g golden caster sugar (I used cardamom sugar)
- 1 large egg (I used a duck egg)
- 100g light muscovado sugar
- 150g flour (I used half wholemeal spelt, half white)
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- pinch of Himalayan pink rock salt
- 3 tsp matcha
- 75g 70% dark chocolate buttons (or chopped)
- Cream butter and sugars together until light and fluffy.
- Beat in the egg.
- Sift in the flour, baking powder, salt and matcha. Stir until just combined.
- Stir in the chocolate.
- Leave in a cool place to firm up a little.
- Place tablespoons of batter onto a lined baking tray (I made 15) and form into a rough circle.
- Bake at 180°C for about 12 minutes or until the cookies are firm. Allow to cool for a few minutes, then move to a wire rack to cool completely.
January is the traditional time to follow through with good intentions and try for a healthier lifestyle. I am always full of New Year’s resolutions and sometimes I actually manage to pull them off. This year I have set myself a tough one, but as it doesn’t involve food or drink, I was happy to take on the teapigs #matchachallenge as well.
I’ve had a love affair with matcha ever since CT brought some back from his Japan trip in 2007. I’d never heard of it before then, so it was a real novelty. Green tea was my tea of choice, so once I got used to the idea, it wasn’t such a big step to drinking matcha: it’s a very finely ground Japanese green tea with a distinctive flavour. Because you are ingesting the whole leaf this way, it provides a concentration of all those healthy nutrients that green tea is renowned for. It’s very high in antioxidants, has plenty of betacarotene and contains vitamins A, B and C. It’s said to boost energy levels for four to six hours after drinking it as well as raising metabolism and relieving stress. Teapigs matcha is organic and comes in 30g packs, normally costing £25. There is currently a 20% discount.
As well as a great drink, matcha lends itself very nicely to baking, not only giving a distinctive flavour, but also an interesting green colour. I have made a number of cakes and biscuits using matcha, but was particularly pleased with matcha shortbread, matcha and white chocolate cupcakes and chocolate matcha battenberg.
Much as I like matcha, it’s not something I’ve had every day, so I was interested to see if drinking it regularly made any difference to my flagging post flu energy levels. The teapigs #matchachallenge is to drink ½ tsp of matcha a day for a fortnight. It’s early days yet as I’m only on Day 5, but I have been enjoying finding different ways to drink it. I have so far made two different kefir matcha smoothies, drunk it as normal in a mug of hot water and tried it as a matcha shot in a glass provided by teapigs. Today I made a frothy matcha white hot chocolate. I used white chocolate so I could retain the beautiful green colour.
This is how I made:
Matcha Hot Chocolate
- Warmed 150ml of milk to just below boiling.
- Poured it into a mug containing 2 heaped tsps of white chocolate powder (I used Mortimer’s) and ¼ tsp matcha powder.
- Used an electric milk frother (kindly provided by teapigs) to mix and froth the drink.
- Sprinkled a little matcha powder over the top.
It was delicious. The frothing gave it a really light texture and the white chocolate was creamy, but the matcha cut through the sweetness with strong refreshing notes.
If you fancy entering the Matcha Challenge there is a chance to win a year’s supply of matcha from teapigs and a pack of matcha is being given away daily via instagram. The challenge runs throughout January and it’s a nice easy way to get your New Year off to a healthy start.
Thanks to teapigs for providing a pack of matcha green tea, a shot glass and aerolatte frother in exchange for blogging about the challenge.
I am sending the matcha hot chocolate off to Nayna for her event, Let’s Cook/Create Hot Drinks over at Simply Food.
It’s been a while since I did any baking with matcha. Last week provided the perfect opportunity. We’d been invited to eat sushi with a Japanese colleague of CT’s which I was hugely looking forward to. A few little matcha cakes, I thought, would make a suitable post prandial snack. As I mulled over what flavour I should pair the matcha with (mostly in the early hours of the morning) I kept coming back to citrus which I thought would give a fresh and zingy high to the bitter notes of green tea. But, unusually for me, I had no fresh citrus in the house, not even lemons.
With time fast running out I made a last minute decision to add some of my mother’s marmalade to the mix. Two bitters together can work really well – think coffee and chocolate. I was hoping this would also provide some of the zing I was looking for.
Well I couldn’t have been better pleased with how these mini matcha marmalade cakes turned out – well maybe they could have been a bit greener in colour. They were light in texture, greenish, had a mild matcha flavour and a delicious marmalade hit. CT and I were hard pressed not to snaffle one on the train on our way to our hosts. Just as well we didn’t as they all disappeared with remarkable rapidity.
How anyone managed to fit them in is a miracle. We had the grandest sushi spread I’ve ever come across. It was a self-assembly job; nori seaweed was provided along with what seemed like hundreds of fillings. As the only vegetarian there, I was still well catered for – omelettes, mushrooms, cucumbers, natto, asparagus, okra, radishes, beans, cress and all the usual accompaniments and condiments. Four hours of eating and sake drinking and we were still able to knock back a few cakes and lashings of a flowering green tea. Mine were not the only cakes: there was a lush chocolate cake as well as a banana tarte tatin. How we managed to stagger back to the train station and home I’ll never know.
I’ve named this year Super Sushi. I reckon I’ve eaten more of it this year than all the other years combined. It all started with our bloggers session at Yo Sushi and snowballed from there. Only two days after this sushi feast I got a surprise phone call from a friend who was dashing through Plymouth on his way back to Italy. “Can you make it to Koishii for a Japanese blow out in two hours time?” I dropped everything, so did CT.
I’m sending these off to Elizabeth’s Kitchen Diary for Shop Local as the wholemeal flour is Cotehele Mill’s own, the eggs are local as is my mother’s homemade marmalade.
It’s been a while since I submitted anything to #recipeoftheweek over at A Mummy Too, so off these go.
- 125g unsalted butter
- 50g white chocolate (G&B)
- 100g cardamom sugar (golden caster)
- 150g flour (half wholemeal, half white)
- 25g ground almonds
- 3 tsp matcha powder
- 1 heaped tsp baking powder
- 2 duck eggs or large hens eggs
- 2 heaped tbsp marmalade
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 12
I have long been an admirer of the stunning bundt creations to be seen over at Dolly Bakes. Being averse to tins for storage reasons as well as sticking ones, I’ve been on the look out for a silicone bundt-type mould to use. I’ve not found anything suitable – until now that is. Lékué do an amazing range of silicone bakeware and it looks to be better quality than some I’ve come across. Recently I received a few items from them to try out. You can see how I got on with the bread maker in a previous post. The bundt-like mould they sent, however, was the very first thing I tried. I was a little nervous and quite excited.
For my first ever bundt, I thought I’d create an orange and chocolate marbled affair with an orange glacé icing. There were no clues as to the quantities needed for the mould, so I had to guess. I thought I was making a generous amount of cake mix, but it barely covered the bottom. As it turned out, this was fine and produced a perfectly sized cake which still looked good. The second time I used it, I upped the quantities, but it still didn’t make a full size cake. I sprayed the mould with oil just to be on the safe side – I really didn’t want it getting stuck. I needn’t have worried, it came out like a dream.
Despite my nerves, I was really happy with the result of my first ever bundt-shaped cake. It really looked quite striking. The almonds, orange juice and yogurt kept the cake nicely moist and the flavours were clear and fresh and worked beautifully in combination. The Lékué bundt-like mould was so easy to use too: it was sturdy enough to stand up in the oven on its own without losing shape; I had no problems turning the cake out (and the second time I didn’t spray it) and it was easy to wash. Perfect. I can see this getting a lot of use.
A few days later, we had some good news to celebrate and invited some friends around for tea. So impressed was I with my orange and chocolate bundt-like cake, that I decided to make another one. Only this time I added more ingredients and accompanied it with a third flavour – matcha. This was an even prettier cake than the first. It was bigger and had three contrasting colours rather than two; once cut the interesting swirling patterns were revealed and some of the slices were spectacular. No one piece was the same. CT likened it to a metamorphic rock, maybe not marble but it was certainly very “gneiss”, he quipped. The cake was just as delicious as the first and the texture was equally good. Now what ingredients, I wonder, am I going to include in my third bundt-like cake?
My method for the second cake was exactly the same as the first except I had three different mixtures rather than two. See below for the printed recipe for the first cake. The quantities for the second were as follows:
- 240g unsalted butter
- 260g caster sugar (again I used cardamom sugar)
- 4 large eggs
- 100g ground almonds
- 230g flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 1 organic orange – zest and juice
- 2 tbsp yogurt
- 1 rounded tbsp cocoa powder
- 1 scant tbsp matcha powder
Not only are these bundts completely made from scratch but the recipes are my own. With just a little bit of pride, I am thus sending them off to Javelin Warrior for his Made with Love Mondays.
As you can probably tell, I have a new found passion for bundt cakes, so I am sending these off to the very first Love Cake Challenge with Ness over at JibberJabberUK who has chosen the February theme of Baking with Passion.
As already stated, I’ve rather fallen in love with these cakes, so although they weren’t made for Valentine’s Day as such I think they fit into the general love theme for February, so I’m sending this off to Dolly Bakes for her Calendar Cakes – Oh L’amour.
CT is quite keen on these bundt cakes too, so it is possible the next flavour might be a mocha one and he might get it for a special Valentine’s Day treat. As such I am submitting these to Lets Cook Sweet Treats for Valentine with Nayna over at Simply Food.
Both of these cakes were made for loved ones, so I am also entering it into the Four Seasons Food challenge with Anneli Delicieux and Lou at Eat Your Veg. The theme this month is not surprisingly Food From The Heart.
Finally, I think, I’m linking this up to #recipeoftheweek with Emily over at A Mummy Too.
Oops, there is another one. Victoria over at A Kick at the Pantry Door has chosen Orange as this month’s Feel Good Food, so really I have no choice but to enter 😉
Thanks to Lékué for sending me the bundt mould to try out. I was not required to write a positive review and as always all opinions are my own.
- 180g unsalted butter
- 200g caster sugar (I used cardamom sugar as the flavour works well with both chocolate and orange)
- 175g flour (I used half wholemeal, half white)
- 75g ground almonds
- scant 2 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 3 large eggs
- 1 organic orange – zest & juice
- 2 tbsp cocoa powder
- 1 tbsp yogurt (I used honey yogurt)
- 50g icing sugar
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 8-12 slices