“Their flavors will send your taste buds on a trip around the world…the Chinese cake has green tea and sesame seeds...” –All Four Stars, page 268
Classy Cakes–the fictitious “dessert bistro” that Gladys is assigned to review in All Four Stars–is famous for its delicious, internationally-inspired cakes. As for how I decided to write about such cakes…well, if you guessed I was inspired by my travels, you’d be correct!
So when I wanted to create a “Chinese”-inspired cake, those were the two flavors that jumped to mind. And they’re both strong flavors, so this recipe took a few tries to get balanced. I’ll admit now that it’s probably not for every palate–but my three students (ages 9-13) who tried these swore that they really liked them, so that seems like a pretty good recommendation. (Plus, of course, Gladys and I think they’re great!)
Green tea cupcakes with sesame icing
(makes 9 large or 1 dozen small cupcakes)
1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
1 ½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
1 ½ tablespoons matcha green tea powder
2/3 cup white sugar
¼ cup canola oil
½ cup milk
1.5 tsp vanilla extract (or 1 tsp almond extract plus 1 tsp vanilla extract)
2 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp cream cheese
1 Tbsp tahini (sesame paste)
1 cup powdered sugar
1 Tbsp milk
Black sesame seeds for garnish
If you are a young chef, ask an adult to work with you on this recipe.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a muffin tin or line it with cupcake cups.
Mix flour, baking powder, salt, and matcha green tea powder in a bowl. In another bowl, beat eggs, sugar, and oil together with an electric mixer on medium speed. Beat in milk and vanilla extract. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and stir until just combined.
Pour batter into muffin wells until they are 3/4 full. Bake for 20 minutes (or, if you’re at high elevation, bake for 17 minutes at 365 degrees).
Let the cupcakes cool completely before removing them from the muffin tin and icing.
To make the icing: Cream the butter and cream cheese together with an electric mixer until fluffy. Beat in the tahini, then gradually beat in the powdered sugar until well-incorporated, alternating with a little milk. Pipe the icing onto the cupcakes and garnish with black sesame seeds.
Voila! The finished products.
This recipe is part of a series inspired by dishes from All Four Stars, my middle-grade novel about 11-year-old restaurant critic Gladys Gatsby. It will be published by Putnam/Penguin on July 10, 2014.
Find more recipes on my four-star recipe page!