Culinary Adventures: Green Tea Cupcakes with Lychee Frosting. Asian-inspired cupcakes with subtle green tea flavor for the Lunar New Year.
Some friends of ours were having a Vietnamese Lunar New Year dinner and I wanted to bring something fun to contribute. I found this green tea cupcakes recipe on a baking blog called Sprigandflours.com created by baker Connie Choi. I’m not talented enough to make up my own baking recipes, and hers looked like a great one to try out.
In retrospect, I wish I would have doubled the recipe. It only made 11 cupcakes, and the dinner party we were going to was larger than 11 people. Fortunately the host had a cake as well, and we stopped and picked up some Chinese almond cookies at the Asian market on the way just to make sure we were bringing enough treats. If you are making this for an event, double the cupcake recipe. The frosting recipe portion makes a good batch of frosting, more than needed for the cupcake portion. (I do now notice that Connie’s recipe says “serves 12”)
I went to a local Asian market (our neighborhood is blessed with many lovely Asian markets) and picked up the matcha green tea powder and a can of lychees. If you don’t have an Asian market near you, you might try a Whole Foods or health food store for the matcha, and they may have lychees as well. Or you can always order on Amazon.
Green Tea Cupcakes with Lychee Buttercream Frosting
- ⅔ cup boiling water
- 1 green tea bag
- ½ cup unsalted butter, softened
- ½ cup sugar
- ½ cup light brown sugar
- 2 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1½ cups all-purpose flour
- 1¼ teaspoons baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons matcha green tea powder
For the frosting:
- 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
- 3½ cups confectioners’ sugar
- 1-2 tablespoon lychee juice
For the cupcakes:
- Preheat the oven to 350F degrees. Line one 12-cup muffin pan with baking cups.
- In a small cup, combine the water and tea bag. Let it steep for 5 minutes, then remove the tea bag. Put in the refrigerator to cool.
- In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter, white sugar, and brown sugar.
- Add in the vanilla extract then the eggs, one at a time.
- In a separate bowl, sift the flour, baking powder, salt, and green tea powder. Stir together.
- Slowly add the dry mixture and the green tea to the wet mixture.
- Pour the batter into 12 cupcake tins about ⅔ filled.
- Bake for about 18-20 minutes. Allow it to cool completely on a wire rack before frosting.
The matcha powder turns the cupcakes a subtle but pretty mossy green color.
For the frosting:
- In a large mixing bowl, mix together the butter, lychee juice, and powdered sugar with an electric mixer on low speed — one cup of sugar and one tablespoon of juice at a time.
- When the ingredients are incorporated, increase the speed to medium and mix for another 2-3 minutes until light and fluffy.
- Spread or pipe the frosting on top of cooled cupcakes.
I didn’t completely follow the exact frosting recipe, because I always just make frosting to taste. I used 1.5 sticks of butter and about 1/3 of a bag of powdered sugar, and poured the lychee juice out of the can into the mix a little at a time until the right consistency was reached. The lychee juice was really sweet, so I added a pinch of salt (in addition to the salted butter) to even it out a bit.
Aside from the recipe making a smaller batch of green tea cupcakes than I’d wanted (my fault for not reading the yield on the recipe), they turned out great. Everyone seemed to like them. I thought the green tea was a nice subtle but identifiable flavor, and the lychee frosting was a nice compliment to it without overpowering the green tea. The two flavors worked well together.