Today, we’re diving into a dessert adventure with my matcha cocoa cupcakes.
This recipe is a treat for those who love a twist on classic flavors. It combines the rich, decadent taste of chocolate with the unique, earthy essence of matcha.
To make the cupcakes centerpiece-worthy, they feature not one, but two different toppings.
A velvety dark chocolate ganache and a lusciously light matcha Swiss meringue buttercream.
Tie up your apron, and let’s create some magic in the kitchen!
Ingredients for matcha cocoa cupcakes
First, let’s gather all the goodies we need. Here’s a quick rundown of our main players:
- Butter: A staple in baking, this adds richness and moisture to our cupcakes. We’ll also use it in our Swiss meringue buttercream (after all, it wouldn’t be buttercream without butter!).
- Dark chocolate: This is going to give us that deep, chocolatey flavor in both our cupcakes and our ganache. Always go for high-quality dark chocolate for the best taste!
- Eggs: The binding agents for our cupcakes. Make sure they’re fresh and at room temperature before adding them to the cupcake batter (I explain why later on).
- Sugar: It’s a sweet treat, after all!
- Vanilla extract: A little splash of vanilla will enhance all the other flavors and round out the bitterness of the dark chocolate and matcha. Psst… for a twist, try coconut extract (or one of these coconut extract substitutes).
- Flour: The foundation of our cupcakes. I go with all-purpose flour because I think it gives the cupcakes the best texture, but you can also go with cake flour if you prefer.
- Cocoa: I recommend using unsweetened cocoa powder, because this means you can control the sweetness. I dilute the powder with a little milk to take the edge off it too. Out of cocoa powder? Check my article on the best cocoa powder alternatives.
- Matcha powder: This vibrant green tea powder gives our cupcakes and frosting a unique, earthy flavor and beautiful color.
- Heavy whipping cream: This is what we’ll use to make our chocolate ganache extra creamy. Psst… want to find out what the best substitute for light cream is? I did a test to find out!
What type of matcha is best to use?
There are a few different types of matcha you can buy, but which one is best for baking?
- Ceremonial-grade matcha is considered the highest quality and is used in tea ceremonies.
- Culinary grade matcha is made with slightly more mature leaves.
- And then you have matcha latte mix, which is a pre-blended mix of matcha powder, sugar, and milk powder.
You can use ceremonial or culinary-grade matcha in your cooking, but avoid using matcha latte mix. The extra ingredients will mess with the taste and texture of your recipe! Especially a recipe like cupcakes.
Ceremonial-grade matcha is more expensive, which means it may not always fit within the budget.
And it’s got a more delicate flavor that can get lost if you’re using lots of other bold flavors alongside it. One big positive of using ceremonial grade matcha in cooking is the color, it will give you a super vibrant green.
Culinary-grade matcha is more versatile and budget-friendly.
It has a bolder, more robust flavor that means it can hold its own against other ingredients, but the bitterness is more pronounced than with ceremonial grade matcha.
A downside to the culinary option is that its color isn’t as bright, and your baked goods might end up with a brown tinge.
Step 1: Preheat and prep
Start by preheating your oven to 350 degrees and get your cupcake liners ready in the tray.
I like to do this at the beginning so I don’t accidentally forget (I’ve done that once or twice!).
Step 2: Make the cupcake batter
Melt the butter in the microwave and set it aside.
Then melt the dark chocolate in a double boiler.
A double boiler allows for gentle heating and prevents the chocolate from burning. You can also use the microwave, but go slowly and stir the chocolate every 10-15 seconds.
In a large bowl, beat together eggs and sugar until well blended. Add the melted butter and vanilla extract to this mix and blend again.
In another bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. Then gradually add this dry mix to the wet mixture, beating until just blended.
Don’t overmix the batter or you’ll end up with dense cupcakes. As soon as the last flour streak disappears, you can stop mixing.
Pro tip: use room temperature eggs for a lighter batter. Eggs aerate much better when they’re at room temperature.
Step 3: Divide and flavor
Split your batter into two equal halves.
In the first half, stir in the matcha powder.
In the second half, add your cocoa and milk mix. Stir each half until the flavors are fully incorporated.
Step 4: Bake
Spoon the chocolate mixture into the cupcake liners, followed by the matcha mixture. Fill them about 3/4 full.
Then swirl the two batters together with a toothpick to get a marbled effect.
Pop your cupcakes in the preheated oven and bake for 20-22 minutes. Remember, every oven is different, so it’s always best to start checking the cupcakes a few minutes early.
When they’re done, place the cupcakes on a wire rack to cool.
Step 5: Prepare the chocolate ganache
While your cupcakes are cooling, heat whipping cream and chocolate in a small pan over low heat until melted. Keep the heat low and don’t boil the mixture.
Who knew making a chocolate ganache was so easy?!
Dip the tops of your cooled cupcakes into the ganache and set them aside to let it harden.
Quick tip: if you’re in a rush, you can put the cupcakes in the fridge to speed up the hardening process.
Step 6: Make the matcha swiss meringue buttercream
Place egg whites and sugar in a double boiler over simmering water.
Once the sugar has dissolved (this will happen at around 160 degrees), remove the mixture from the heat then beat it with an electric mixer until you get fluffy, stiff peaks (this will take around 7 minutes).
Then switch to the paddle attachment and gradually add butter 2 tablespoons at a time, mixing on medium-low power.
Once all the butter is added, switch to medium-high power and beat until the frosting is thick (around 3 minutes).
Finally, add in your matcha powder and continue beating on low to eliminate any air bubbles.
Step 7: Frost and enjoy
Once the cupcakes and ganache have cooled, you can frost them with your matcha Swiss meringue buttercream.
Then dig in!
Pro tip: the key to a successful bake is patience and love, so take your time and enjoy the process. Happy baking!
How to tell if my cupcakes are done
The best way to tell if your cupcakes are done is to use the toothpick test (psst… this is also the best way to tell if brownies are cooked)
It’s simple – stick a toothpick into the middle of your cupcake and see how it comes out.
If it comes out clean or with just a few dry crumbs attached, the cupcakes are done. If it comes out dirty, you’ve got underdone cupcakes.
You can also lightly press on the top of your cupcake. The cupcake should spring back if it’s cooked properly.
Can I use a different frosting?
For this recipe, I went for a Swiss meringue buttercream.
If you’re new to this type of frosting, let me explain.
Swiss meringue buttercream is light and fluffy with an almost mousse-like texture, and it’s less sweet than traditional buttercream. I love it!
But making it is a bit more intimidating than other types of frostings, especially if you’re new to baking.
Luckily, these cupcakes will go great with loads of different frosting types. Here are some other options:
- Just ganache: you can skip the frosting altogether and just use the ganache as a topping. Easy peasy. And you can even get creative by using two different flavors of ganache, dark and white chocolate.
- American buttercream: This is probably the simplest type of frosting to make. It’s sweet, sturdy, and very forgiving. Perfect if you have a sweet tooth.
- Cream cheese frosting: If you want a bit of tanginess to balance out the sweetness of your cupcakes, cream cheese frosting is an excellent choice.
- Whipped ganache: don’t want to stick to a plain old ganache? Try whipping it instead! You’ll need to get the ganache really cold before whipping it, so make sure you leave time for it to cool down. You can also make the whipped ganache in advance and then reheat it later.
Variations and substitutions
It’s not just the frosting you can change. Here are some ideas for variations and substitutions:
- Gluten-free: If you need a gluten-free option, substitute the all-purpose flour with a gluten-free flour blend. Just be sure to check the blend you’re using is suitable for cakes and cupcakes.
- Different flavors: If you’re not a matcha fan, you could replace the matcha powder with an equal amount of unsweetened cocoa powder to make a double chocolate cupcake. Alternatively, you could add a hint of mint or orange zest to the cupcake batter for a fresh twist. Or try my strawberry and matcha cupcakes!
- Add some texture: For extra crunch, consider adding your favorite chopped nuts (mine are hazelnuts or macadamia nuts) to the cupcake batter or sprinkling them on top of the frosting. And you can even sprinkle some salt on them.
- Spice it up: Warm up the flavors with spices like cinnamon or nutmeg. These make wonderful accompaniments to a cup of tea. Or get creative with delicious extracts – check out my article on the best alternatives for rum extract. Yum!
Swiss meringue buttercream and ganache are both stable at room temperature, so you can store your cupcakes at room temperature for up to 2 days in an airtight container.
However, if your kitchen is very warm, I recommend keeping the cupcakes in the fridge to prevent the frosting from melting.
When you’re ready to eat the cupcakes, take them out of the fridge and let them sit at room temperature for 5-10 minutes to take the chill off.
You can also freeze unfrosted cupcakes for up to 3 months. Wrap the cupcakes in plastic wrap and put them in a zip-top bag or airtight container. Or you can flash freeze the cupcakes for 1-2 hours to reduce plastic usage.
Related: How To Store French Bread
Matcha Cocoa Cupcakes
- For the cupcakes:
- 8 Tbsp butter melted (1 stick)
- 3 oz dark chocolate melted
- 3 eggs large
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3/4 + 2/3 cups flour sifted
- 1 tsp baking powder
- Pinch of salt
- 1.5 tsp sifted unsweetened cocoa diluted with 2 Tbsp whole milk
- 1.5 tsp Matcha powder
- Chocolate ganache glaze:
- 3 oz dark chocolate
- 3 oz heavy whipping cream
- Matcha swiss meringue buttercream:
- 2.4 oz egg whites
- 4.8 oz sugar
- 5.3 oz unsalted butter room temperature
- 1.5 tablespoons matcha use more or less to suit your taste
- For the cupcakes: Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Melt the butter and set aside. Melt the chocolate using a double-boiler.
- Beat the eggs with the sugar until blended. Add the melted the butter and vanill extract and mix well.
- In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt and add to the butter/egg mixture. Beat until blended, but do not overbeat.
- Divide the batter in two halves. In the first half, add the Matcha tea, in the second the chocolate and cocoa diluted in milk. Stir each half until thorougly incorporated.
- Spoon chocolate mixture into cupcake liners, and spoon matcha mixture on top of the chocolate. Fill liners about 1/2 – 2/3 full. You can use a toothpick or knife to gently stir the colors together for a marbled effect, or you can leave as is.
- Bake in a preheated oven for 20-22 minutes. Test with a toothpick to make sure they are done.
- For the chocolate ganache glaze: Heat the whipping cream and chocolate in a small pan over low heat until melted. Do not boil. Remove from heat and sit aside until cooler. Dip tops of cupcakes into the ganache and sit aside to let ganache harden, or put into the refrigerator to harden it quicker.
- For the matcha swiss meringue buttercream: Put egg whites and sugar into the top of a double boiler over a pan of simmering water. Whisking constantly, cook until sugar has dissolved and mixture is warm (about 160 degrees).
- Pour heated egg whites into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat egg white mixture on high speed until it forms stiff (but not dry) peaks. Continue beating until fluffy and cooled, about 7 minutes.
- Switch to the paddle attachment. With mixer on medium-low, add butter two tablespoons at a time, beating well after each addition. Increase speed to medium-high; continue beating until frosting appears thick, about 3 minutes. Reduce speed to low; add matcha powder and continue beating 2 minutes to eliminate air bubbles.