Recipe: Christmas Tree Matcha Cupcakes with Red Bean Filling


I used to hate green tea. In fact, I used to hate all tea. But after a month in Japan, where tea is abundant and you can't turn it down, I learned to love it. (But seriously, you can't say no to your Obachan when she offers you a cup of ocha. It's rude and she's too cute to deny.) During that month-long trip, I was also stuffing my face with all sorts of matcha-flavored desserts: muffins, donuts, crepes, and of course Kit Kats. I love to deep earthy flavors and how it compliments the sweetness of sugary goods.

Matcha is a delicate powdered form of green tea. For centuries it was used at royal tea ceremonies; now you can buy baking Matcha Packets at Trader Joe's. And since I've been on a matcha kick since 2008, and NYC has matcha trending like it's the latest iPhone, I figured what better way to celebrate our second issue of Hapa Mag that with Matcha Cupcakes!

These aren't just any cupcakes. These holiday cupcakes are complete with red bean paste (henceforth known as azuki) and matcha frosting in the shape of a Christmas tree. I'm a nerd, so I'm going all out!  I adapted this recipe from here, here, and here, stealing some tips and tricks along the way. These are pretty dense cupcakes. They're more pound-cake-like; think Spinkles Cupcakes! For a party, I would remake these as mini-cupcakes. #Kawaii. And be careful not to add too much sugar with your frosting. You'll lose the delicate matcha flavor if you aren't careful.

These red-and-green concoctions are my new go-tos for any and all things holiday related. And maybe this year, instead of Green Tea Swiss Rolls for New Year's Day, I'll make these! Who knows? Just make them yours and enjoy!

print recipe
Holiday Matcha Cupcakes with Red Bean Filling
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) Unsalted Butter
  • 1/12 cups Sugar
  • 2 Egg (Yolk)
  • 2 Eggs (Whole)
  • 2 tsp Baking Powder
  • 3 cups All-Purpose Flour
  • 2 Tbsp Matcha Powder
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp Brandy or Scotch Whiskey
  • 1 package Fine Azuki (Red Bean) Paste
  • For Buttercream Frosting:
  • 2 cups Unsalted Butter, Softened
  • 3 cup (option extra 1/2 cup) Powdered Sugar
  • 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 2 1/2 tsp Matcha Powder
  • A Pinch Kosher Salt
1- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. 2- Mix the matcha powder with whiskey in a large bowl. (This will help keep the bright matcha color.) 3- Cream butter, eggs, and sugar in to the same bowl. 4- In a medium bowl, sift together flour, salt and baking powder. (I don't have a sifter, so you can just mix together with a whisk.) 5- Add half the flour to the wet mixture and beat til combined. 6- Add the milk, beating til combined. Add the rest of the flour. 7- Line a cupcake tin with liners, and fill half of each cup. Do not fill to much! 8- Add 1/2 teaspoon of azuki paste into the middle of each cupcake. 9- Cover red bean with 1 1/2 teaspoon of batter. Each cupcake liner should be filled 3/4 of the way up.10- Bake in the oven for 20-23 minutes. To test, insert a chopstick to the side and make sure it comes out clean. 11. Cool on a baking rack or in the fridge and get ready for the frosting! * If you don't love Azuki paste, use Strawberry Jam instead!
Matcha Frosting
1- Beat together all the ingredients until smooth. Start with 2 cups of sugar, then add more to taste. 2- Place frosting in a piping bag. Using a piping tip of your choice (I used a star tip) pipe several rounds onto your cooled cupcake. Pipe the rounds to be shape of a Christmas tree. Add sprinkles to add to the holiday effect!
Yield: 24

Melissa Slaughter has lived in all four time zones in the contiguous United States. A former actor in Seattle, WA, Melissa now resides in NYC as a content creator. She is the producer of the We're Not All Ninjas podcast, which she also hosts with fellow Hapa Mag writer, Alex Chester. Melissa also writes for online blogs Nerdophiles and On Stage Blog. Find her at @NotAllNinjasPod.