This recipe makes gorgeously soft Chocolate Matcha Cupcakes, with deep chocolate notes and a matcha undertone highlighted by a tasty matcha cream cheese frosting. One of my favorite cupcakes to date!
Cupcakes aren’t my favorite bakes so I don’t make them often, but when I do, I pick flavors I feel I will really like. Gotta make all that cake and frosting count, you know? I like to put together a combination of flavors that will give me a good balance of interesting flavors. Something not too sweet, but memorable. And these Chocolate Matcha Cupcakes, while fairly simple, are that.
Personal bias aside, it’s easy to gravitate towards a chocolate cupcake. They are one of those no-fail things in the baking world. But I wanted to mix things up a little. Also, I wanted an excuse to make my favorite Matcha Cream Cheese frosting again. It’s a recipe I shared before, when I made Matcha from head-to-toe Cupcakes; and it’s so damn good I knew that 50% of these cupcakes were already taken care of thanks to that frosting.
Luckily, the other 50% of these cupcakes, the cake base involving chocolate and matcha, also exceeded my expectations, making these Chocolate Matcha Cupcakes a perfect little package. And when you watch my video below, you will see it takes absolutely no time to put them together. That’s the beauty of cupcakes: They are the quickest and easiest way to satisfy your cake cravings. And frankly, homemade ones almost always come out better than store-bought ones.
One of the things I love the most about these Chocolate Matcha Cupcakes are how moist and tender they are. I will never understand why people have an issue with the word, but how else are you supposed to describe a moist cake but with the word ‘moist’? These cupcakes have that melt in the mouth quality to them. It starts with a deep chocolate flavor and ends with a hint of matcha that gets a boost from the frosting. If you take a bite of the cake and frosting together, everything melds into a chocolate-matcha party in the mouth.
The addition of the Matcha Cream Cheese Frosting not only adds an extra matcha oomph to this cupcake, it also adds that little savory tang cream cheese is well-known for. I have never been a fan of American buttercream because it is essentially butter and loads of sugar, but the addition of cream cheese gives the frosting structure without the need for a ridiculous amount of sugar. I always come across recipes that add so much sugar for the sake of getting a frosting that makes crisp lines when piped, and in that case, flavor is usually sacrificed and the frosting is just sweet. Even the thought makes my teeth ache.
I didn’t want to go that far with my frosting, so you will see they seem a bit soft at room temp, but once chilled, they firm up and melt in the mouth alongside the moist crumb of the cupcake.
A note on the match powder. I find that it’s important to use at least a culinary-grade matcha for any baked goods you want to attempt with matcha in it. You don’t need a ceremonial expensive AF matcha for these. Save that for drinking. But please DO NOT use those ready-to-drink instant matcha latte sachets with the creamer and sugar mix-in’s. You won’t get anywhere near the flavor quality you want. There are a bunch of cheap culinary matcha products in the market that actually taste good. (And that you won’t feel bad using as a prop for photography…?)
I tried out a middle-range culinary matcha powder for this recipe, and it had this really interesting floral undertone that I quite enjoyed. It’s an undertone that reminds me a little of jasmine green tea. I don’t remember the brand or where I got it because I transferred the matcha powder into another container, but I do remember it being affordable. My more expensive matcha is reserved for Matcha Espresso Lattes. If you do already have the fancy drinking matcha in your pantry and don’t really plan to extensively bake a lot of matcha desserts, then you don’t need to buy additional culinary matcha. Let’s not make things more complicated than they need to be, because this recipe is so simple and fuss-free, it would be a shame if we rained on that parade.
Okay. This recipe is one of the simpler cupcake recipes out there. It’s one-bowl, and all you need is a whisk and/or a spatula. Literally no machines required. Plus it will take you like 10 minutes or less to get them in the oven. Unless you plan to shoot a video like I did, in which case it will take you double the time lol.
The first part of the recipe has you beating together your sugar, oil, vanilla, cocoa powder, matcha, egg, and sour cream. Beat it really well until your sugar is pretty much dissolved and incorporated.
Once you get a smooth chocolatey mixture, take your sifter and sift in the flour, baking soda, and salt. Mix that up until the dry stuff is just combined into the chocolate mixture, and then drizzle in your very hot water, being careful not to splash. Mix that all up until silky smooth.
In this case, it’s okay if you really get into that mixture and stir until it’s silky and well-combined. Don’t worry about the batter being a little lumpy, just make sure the flour and water is properly incorporated and the mixture is homogenous. Now you just divide that into 10 cupcake liners, 3/4 of the way full, and bake for 15 to 18 minutes. You’ll get these gorgeous cupakes:
You want to let that cool to room temperature before you start with the frosting. Essentially, you want to beat together your cream cheese and butter until they form this lovely fluffy mixture.
And then you sift in the powdered sugar and matcha, to make sure your frosting doesn’t have chunks of powdered sugar in them that may get stuck on your piping tip.
I just love the green hue of this frosting. GORGEOUS. Also, it tastes good. I never compliment frosting you guys, unless it’s a frosting like this. YUMMEH.
Pipe your cupcakes the way you like. I find myself using my 1M tip all the time even though I have a ton of other tips here. Your can pipe them two ways, both going in a circular motion around the cupcake. If your start from the outside in, you get those high mounds of frosting. If you pipe from the inside out, you get a flatter, rose shaped frosting. It’s your choice, though I recommend doing both so people who like frosting can enjoy the taller Chocolate Matcha Cupcakes.
Look at the shine on that silky smooth matcha cream cheese frosting. This was shot under natural light. Looks so tasty, doesn’t it? That frosting and these cupcakes are great at room temp or cold from the fridge.
Because this recipe uses Dutched cocoa, the hue of the cupcake base is slightly more reddish compared to cupcakes that use unsweetened cocoa powder. The mellower flavor profile of Dutched cocoa allows the matcha flavor to come out a little more. Since this recipe uses baking soda, you can probably use natural cocoa powder in place of Dutched.
Chocolate Matcha Cupcakes with Matcha Cream Cheese Frosting
For the chocolate-matcha cupcakes
- 1 cup 200 grams washed or white sugar
- ½ cup 110 grams vegetable oil
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ cup 50 grams Dutch-processed or natural cocoa powder
- 1½ teaspoons culinary-grade matcha
- 1 large egg, room temperature
- ¼ cup 62 grams full fat sour cream or yogurt
- 1 cup 130 grams all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ cup 60 mL boiling water
For the matcha cream cheese frosting
- 1 227-gram bar cream cheese, softened
- ¼ cup 55 grams butter, softened
- 1½ cups 180 grams confectioner's sugar
- 1 tablespoon culinary-grade matcha, more or less to taste
Make the cupcakes
- Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Line 10 cavities of a cupcake tin with paper liners; set aside. (You may want to put a bit of water into the other two empty cavities so they don't burn.)
- In a large mixing bowl, beat together sugar, oil, vanilla, cocoa powder, matcha, egg, and sour cream. Mix until well combined.
- Sift in the flour, baking soda, and salt. Mix until well combined. Slowly pour in the boiling water, being careful not to splatter. Beat until batter is silky smooth. It's okay if the batter is lumpy as long as you've probably incorporated the water.
- Divide the batter evenly inside the paper liners, filling a little over 3/4 of the way. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes, or until toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Let cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then move to a wire rack to cool completely before frosting.
Make the frosting
- In a medium bowl, cream together cream cheese and butter until smooth. Sift the confectioner's sugar and matcha powder on top, then mix until well-combined.
- Transfer frosting to a piping bag fitted with your preferred decorating tip. Pipe frosting on the completely cooled cupcakes. Serve immediately or let cool in the fridge before serving. Both are great ways to eat this delicious cupcake! Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator up to 3 days.