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Green Tea Cupcakes with Red Bean (Azuki) Buttercream Frosting


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Green Tea Cupcakes

I don’t sell my cupcakes.  I’ve prepared cupcakes for weddings 1, 2, 3, and 4 (all good friends and family), but since then, I’ve steered clear of events.  Baking massive quantities of cupcakes – for me – makes the whole thing more work than play.  There are exceptions.

I received an email from my friend Andrew who heads up the St. Louis Osuwa Taiko.  He asked if I would accept the challenge of baking 50 – 100 Japanese-inspired cupcakes for a party to celebrate the visit of their parent taiko drumming group from Japan, Osuwa Daiko.  I jumped at the opportunity.  I loved the idea of experimenting with Japanese flavors and serving them to people from Japan – plus, Andrew invited Jonathan and me to stay for the party!  Fun!

I didn’t know what to expect from the Taiko party.  I imagined the two taiko groups standing around making awkward conversation based on their shared interest in drumming.  I hoped that maybe there would be some drumming.  I’d seen St. Louis Osuwa Taiko perform before and they are exhilarating to watch:

The party far exceeded my expectations!  Everyone was super friendly, and not only did they drum, but the U.S. and Japanese groups had a jam session where everyone let loose and played like no one was watching.  The energy in the room was through the roof.

And then, there was this…

Japanese Dragon

Members of the Nine Dragon Academy Lion Dance Group surprised everyone with an expert-level performance.  Seeing that up close was unforgettable.
But, the best part of the night for me was watching everyone enjoy the green tea cupcakes with read bean (azuki) buttercream frosting – we bake for the smiles, right?  Attendees raved about the cupcakes and many of them had two or even three!  They loved the fan toppers too (from The Paper Lot) and many taiko members cleaned the toppers off and wore them in their hair during the event.
Green Tea Cupcakes

Ujinotsuyu Matcha Hagoromo Green Tea Powder In Tin

The key to the green tea cupcakes is matcha powder (green tea powder).  This product can be a little hard to find unless you have an international market near you.  However, there are many varieties available on Amazon.  This is the one that I used.  One container was enough for exactly fifty cupcakes.

View on Amazon.com

Koshi an (Fine Sweeted Red Bean Paste) - 17.6oz (Pack of 1)

For the frosting, you’ll need red bean paste.   If you’re not used to it, beans in dessert can be odd.  Don’t be scared.  Think of the sweetened mashed beans like fig paste – thick and sweet.  Be sure to buy the smooth/fine paste, otherwise you’ll have unappetizing bean chunks in your frosting.

View on Amazon.com

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Green Tea Cupcakes
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Green Tea Cupcakes with Red Bean (Azuki) Buttercream Frosting

Servings 16 cupcakes

Ingredients

Cupcake Ingredients

  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 3/4 cups cake flour not self-rising
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons matcha powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter room temperature
  • 2 large eggs room temperature
  • 1/3 cup plain yogurt
  • 1/4 cup canola oil or vegetable oil
  • 2/3 cup whole milk

Frosting Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter room temperature
  • 3/4 cup smooth/fine red bean azuki paste
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

Instructions

Cupcake Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. In a medium-sized mixing bowl or bowl of a stand mixer, mix together sugar, cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, matcha powder, and ginger.
  3. Add butter and mix on medium-low speed for three minutes. Because there is so little butter, you'll end up with a very fine crumb texture.
  4. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together eggs, yogurt, and oil until smooth.
  5. Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture and beat on medium speed until just combined.
  6. Slowly add milk and mix on low speed until just combined. The batter will be liquid. (Don't worry, you didn't do anything wrong. It's supposed to be that way.)
  7. Fill cupcake liners just over 1/2 full.
  8. Bake for 14 minutes and then test to see if they are done. They are done when a toothpick comes out without wet batter stuck to it. If they are not done, test again in two minutes. If they are still not done, test again in another two minutes.
  9. When the cupcakes are done, remove them immediately from the tins and leave them on a cooling rack (or just on your counter if you don't own a cooling rack) to cool.

Frosting Instructions

  1. Mix butter on high speed for three minutes or until light and fluffy.
  2. Mix in red bean paste until smooth.
  3. Mix in salt.
  4. Mix in powdered sugar a little bit at a time until fully combined.
  5. Spread or pipe on cooled cupcakes.
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