March 3rd is Hinamatsuri, Doll Festival or Girl’s Day, in Japan. Families with daughters display dolls called Hina ningyo, which sit on a tiered platform. These matcha cakes baked in origami boxes are dressed to represent the emperor and empress dolls, which sit on the top tier. Who needs real dolls when you can make and eat your own?
While thinking of possible Hinamatsuri desserts I could make, I happened to stumble upon a recipe for a Funfetti cake baked in origami balloons and was instantly inspired to take it up another level. I wanted to keep the surprise factor of the hidden cakes but use actual origami instead of parchment paper, and I wanted the flavor of the cake to be more appropriate for Hinamatsuri.
Just a warning if you do choose to try this recipe out: folding the origami boxes is pretty time-consuming. It involves trimming the origami and parchment papers before actually folding the boxes and the lids to match. If you’ve got helpful kids around, this is where you put them to work. Watch this video to learn how to fold both the box and the lid. I used thick textured origami for the box, as I wasn’t using a muffin pan and I wanted a thick container to put the batter in. I also added a layer of parchment paper so the cakes don’t stick. Just cut the parchment paper so it’s the same size or slightly smaller than your origami, and fold them together. All the origami I used were 5.9 in² (15 cm²).
Once the origami boxes are folded, place them onto a baking sheet, preheat the oven to 338°F (170°C), make the batter and pour it evenly into each box.
Bake the matcha cakes for about 14 to 16 minutes. Once they’re out of the oven, immediately transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely.
Put the lids on so whoever you’re giving these to can’t see the surprise inside!
Depending on where you’re from, the positioning of the emperor and empress varies. I like to put the emperor on the left and the empress on the right. But don’t worry, the way you present your matcha cakes won’t affect the taste.
The cake base is the same as my matcha cupcakes, but with white chocolate chips instead of a white chocolate cream cheese frosting. They’re fluffy, earthy, and not too sweet which makes it the perfect thing to pair with white chocolate!