Matcha Cupcake with White Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting

February 28, 2016


March 3rd in Japan is known as Hinamatsuri. Literally meaning Doll Festival, it’s a day to celebrate the healthy growth of girls. Families with daughters will display special dolls in February and keep them out until the day after Hinamatsuri. Many people are superstitious and believe that dolls not being put away right after the celebration will result in their daughters dying an old maid. I haven’t taken out my small set of dolls in years… wonder what that means.

One of the traditional desserts that are eaten on this special day is hishimochi, a three layer rice cake. The bottom layer is green representing new plants waiting to sprout in spring, the middle layer is white representing the snow on the ground, and the top layer is pink representing the peach blossoms that grow in early spring. I wanted to create a dessert inspired by these colors and came up with this recipe.


For the cupcake, I decided to tweak my favorite vanilla cupcake recipe from Cupcake Project. I left out the vanilla bean and extract, and instead added 2 tablespoons of matcha powder to the dry ingredients. You could increase to 2½ tablespoons if you want the green tea flavor to be extra strong.


When you combine the dry and wet ingredients, the batter turns a vibrant green. Your batter might not be smooth with tiny bits of butter floating around, but fear not! Trust me, it’s going to be great so don’t try to get the batter smooth by overmixing.


When these babies come out of the oven, your kitchen is going to smell like a Japanese tea house. Pop them out of the cupcake pan immediately and let them cool on a wire rack. And resist the urge to eat one.


I used edible pickled cherry blossoms to top my cupcakes. Yes, pickled flowers are a thing. People put them in hot water and drink it as tea or mix it into rice to add flavor. Soak the blossoms in a bowl of water for 30 minutes to get the salt out and dry them on a paper towel before using them. If you can’t find these, or you’d rather look at flowers instead of eating them, topping the cupcakes with strawberries would be just as good.


While waiting for the cupcakes to cool, melt the white chocolate in a double boiler. You want this to cool down before adding it to the frosting to avoid melting the butter. No one likes soupy frosting.


I love the combination of white chocolate and matcha. The creamy and sweet vanilla flavor of the white chocolate and the earthy green flavor of the green tea really pairs well. Since buttercream frosting is already so sweet, I was quite wary of adding white chocolate into buttercream frosting. So I opted for a cream cheese frosting and it really helped to cut the sweetness. Alternatively, you could just top the cupcakes with melted white chocolate and call it a day.


When I was roaming in the baking goods store I found freeze-dried cherry blossom powder. I added 2 teaspoons of it to a cup of frosting and totally ruined it. The powder contained salt and made the frosting too salty. I had to add all of the white chocolate frosting to save it. Don’t make the same mistake I did. The white chocolate frosting is so delicious on its own. No need to get fancy with powdered flowers. But if you do choose to use the powder, start by adding ¼ teaspoon of it to a cup of frosting and gradually build up the flavor.


These are probably one of the most elegant and ladylike cupcakes I’ve ever made.


Can you see how moist and fluffy the cake is? Good luck not eating the whole batch.


Matcha Cupcakes with White Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting

Yield: 17 cupcakes

Matcha Cupcakes with White Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting


    For the cupcakes:
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1¾ cups cake flour
  • 1½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons matcha powder
  • ¼ cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 eggs
  • ⅓ cup sour cream
  • ¼ cup canola oil
  • ⅔ cup milk
    For the frosting:
  • 113g white chocolate
  • 57g salted butter, at room temperature
  • 200g cream cheese
  • 1 cup powdered sugar


  1. Preheat your oven to 340°F (170°C) and line a cupcake pan with paper liners.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine the sugar, cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and matcha powder. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, cream the butter. Stir in the eggs, sour cream, canola oil, and milk.
  4. Add the flour mixture into the wet ingredients and stir until just combined.
  5. Fill the cupcake liners slightly over halfway, about ⅔ of the way, and bake for 16 minutes. If you insert a toothpick and it comes out clean, they're done. Transfer them onto a wire rack immediately and let them cool completely before frosting.
  1. Melt the white chocolate in a double boiler, and let it cool until tepid. (If you don't let it cool enough, you'll get a soupy frosting, but if you let it cool for too long, you'll get chunks of white chocolate in your frosting)
  2. In a bowl, beat the butter with a handheld mix until creamy and fluffy. Add the cream cheese and continue beating.
  3. Slowly add the powdered sugar, making sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl occasionally.
  4. Beat in the cooled white chocolate.
  5. If the frosting is too loose, stick it in the fridge to let it set before frosting the cupcakes.

Head over to Angie’s Fiesta Friday to see this post as well as many other amazing recipes! Many thanks to Judi who chose this post to be featured on this week’s Fiesta Friday 🙂

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  • Reply Thalia @ butter and brioche February 29, 2016 at 1:03 pm

    I am obsessed with anything Matcha at the moment.. and these cupcakes are perfect for my craze. They look SO good.

    • Reply Ai February 29, 2016 at 1:15 pm

      Stores come out with matcha versions of different sweets this time of year in Japan. My boyfriend, hater of matcha-flavored sweets, went back for a second and third cupcake 😉 Let me know if you give this a try!

  • Reply Sabrina March 3, 2016 at 12:27 am

    These look amazing!! I definitely have to make matcha cupcakes one day 🙂

    • Reply Ai March 3, 2016 at 8:32 am

      Thanks, Sabrina! If you like matcha, these are a must make 😉

  • Reply Anne March 3, 2016 at 9:43 am

    Ohhh matcha is my absolute favorite!! Lovely cupcakes and the white chocolate frosting is super innovative!

    • Reply Ai March 3, 2016 at 10:02 am

      Woohoo! Fellow matcha lover! For some of the cupcakes, I skipped the frosting and glazed them with melted white chocolate, and it was equally good! I just adore the combo of matcha and white chocolate.

  • Reply Krystle March 3, 2016 at 10:33 am

    Mmm the white chocolate frosting looks amazing. Your decorations are gorgeous!

    • Reply Ai March 3, 2016 at 10:56 am

      Thank you Krystle!!
      I’m usually not a huge fan of white chocolate because I find it overly sweet, but paired with matcha and I’m in love.

  • Reply Jhuls | The Not So Creative Cook April 22, 2016 at 10:53 pm

    I love to go to Japan someday.
    These cupcakes are so pretty. I love the edible pickled flowers on the top. 🙂

    • Reply Ai April 23, 2016 at 2:02 pm

      You should visit! Everyone goes to Tokyo since it’s the big city, but I personally love the less crowded city of Kobe 😉

  • Reply Judi April 23, 2016 at 3:45 am

    What a beautiful recipe – from the green matcha cake (I’ll have to look for cherry blossom powder – love that) to the pickled cherry blossoms on top. White chocolate too! Very original and a recipe I’m going to try. Thanks so much for bringing these delicious cupcakes to Angie’s party.

    • Reply Ai April 23, 2016 at 3:13 pm

      Let me know how they turn out! The cherry blossom powder was really salty so watch out! lol

      • Reply Judi April 29, 2016 at 10:02 pm

        Just realized you did not link to Angie’s Fiesta Friday #116. This is usually considered to be a “must do” to be considered for a feature. Obviously, I picked you anyways because I loved your post but normally that would not have happened without being linked. I just missed that fact… Please try to do so in the future 🙂

        • Reply Ai April 30, 2016 at 11:59 am

          Oh sorry! Completely missed that part! Will add it now. Thanks for letting me know Judi!

          • Judi April 30, 2016 at 3:25 pm

            Thank you – it’s a beautiful recipe, great pictures and so informative. It deserved to be featured. Normally I would have sent you a note beforehand so it was my fault for not letting you know as a co-host. Have a great week 🙂

          • Ai April 30, 2016 at 4:01 pm

            Thank you so much for choosing my recipe! Happy Fiesta Friday 😀

  • Reply Petra April 24, 2016 at 5:50 am

    Matcha cupcakes is inspired. They look so pretty. 🙂

    • Reply Ai April 26, 2016 at 11:07 am

      Thank you Petra!

  • Reply Cynthia April 24, 2016 at 4:21 pm

    Wow these are fluffy cupcakes for sure! I am a matcha maniac so these cupcakes are definitely up my alley! I’ve never seen cherry blossom powder before but I’m going to have to actively seek some out because I love cherry blosoms and they’re just starting to bloom here in Vancouver. I don’t think I’ve ever tried eating them before…let alone pickled ones! Is it a little like Rose in flavor? Thank you for sharing this at FF!

    • Reply Ai April 26, 2016 at 11:11 am

      If you can’t find the cherry blossom , skip it! They’re just as delicious without! The pickled cherry blossoms have a salty kick, so a little different from rose.

  • Reply Naina April 26, 2016 at 10:52 pm

    These are simply beautiful! Love the matcha and the sakura on top!

    • Reply Ai April 27, 2016 at 8:02 am

      Thank you Naina!

  • Reply Angie | Fiesta Friday April 29, 2016 at 8:34 am

    These cupcakes look and sound absolutely delightful! I’ve been wanting to buy matcha powder for the longest time and now I have the very reason to do so. ?

    • Reply Ai April 29, 2016 at 9:16 am

      I don’t use matcha powder often, but I should, considering how much I love it haha. Thanks for visiting Angie 😉

  • Reply Shellz January 16, 2017 at 8:10 am

    Made these the other day and they were delicious! Just the right amount of green tea flavour 🙂 The only thing is that my cupcakes came out brown in colour. I’m wondering if it’s the brand of matcha powder that I use. What brand did you use? Thanks!

    • Reply Ai January 16, 2017 at 3:48 pm

      Oh I’m so happy you liked them! Thank you so much for trying them out 😀
      Hmm, not sure why they’d turn brown. Were the insides brown too, or just the outer layer? I live in Japan and bought a generic matcha powder at the supermarket and it’s not sold online…

      • Reply Shellz January 17, 2017 at 10:56 am

        It was green on the outside, but brown on the inside? Haha, so weird. Ok, I will try another brand. Thanks!!! 🙂

        • Reply Ai January 17, 2017 at 11:36 am

          Hmmm that’s odd lol. I wonder why that would happen… What brand did you use? Definitely let me know when you try a different brand 😉

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