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Sweet and delicious matcha cupcakes with black sugar syrup to make it authentically Japanese! These cupcakes are not only beautiful with matcha green tea colour but easy to make yet so indulgent. It’s a perfect matcha dessert to enjoy with tea and can make a great gift for home parties.
I had never ever thought of making matcha baked goods for some reason before until my boyfriend said I should because well I’m Japanese and I live in Tokyo at the moment. I don’t know why I didn’t start baking with matcha for such a long time! I have access to quality matcha everywhere I go. If you don’t know where matcha comes from, the most popular and high-quality ones are produced in Uji, Kyoto, Japan.
One of the first matcha recipes I made is matcha brownies and mmmm they turned out sooooo good, you should go make them if you haven’t. These vegan matcha cupcakes are honestly as good or might even be better if you like more rich, sweet, and indulgent desserts with buttercream frosting. The vegan cupcakes are tender and fluffy and the matcha buttercream frosting is the best thing to go on them, so soft, fluffy, rich, creamy and perfect with the melty drizzle of homemade Japanese black syrup. Just typing this now makes my mouth water.
If you are wondering what Japanese black syrup is, it’s a syrup made with Japanese black sugar procured mainly on Okinawa island. It’s literally black in colour and is richer in minerals and vitamins than regular refined white sugar. The black syrup has a rich flavour and is paired with matcha desserts such as these matcha cupcakes!
This recipe is:
- can be gluten-free
Main ingredients and substitutions
Matcha powder: The main of the main for this recipe is matcha powder! Use good quality matcha powder to get a nice green colour and lovely matcha flavour. Don’t use green tea powder here! They look very similar but it’s completely different to matcha powder. Matcha powder is made of ground green tea leaves so the flavour is strong with nice green tea fragrant. Green tea powder, on the other hand, is a powder form of brewed and dehydrated green tea so it’s lighter in both flavour and colour.
Plain flour: I used regular plain flour for this recipe as I like the soft and fluffy texture it creates in cupcakes. You can also use 1:1 gluten-free flour if you want to make vegan gluten-free matcha cupcakes gluten-free!
Caster sugar: I tried making them with brown sugar, but it made the colour of the cake very dark so I used regular caster sugar. You absolutely use unrefined sugar like brown sugar or coconut sugar if you prefer.
Soy milk: Soy milk is one of my favourite plant milk to make vegan buttermilk! You can substitute it with other plant milk of your choice such as almond milk, oat milk, etc.
Vegetable oil: Vegetable oil creates a lovely soft and moist texture in cupcakes! Other oil like coconut oil, and sunflower oil can be used instead of vegetable oil too. Make sure to use oil with no flavour so that it won’t interfere with the matcha flavour.
Cornflour: cornflour in this recipe acts as a binder and also improves the texture of the cupcakes. You can also use potato flour, tapioca flour, and arrowroot flour too!
Vegan butter: I used Naturil’s vegan butter for the buttercream frosting. It’s been one of the best vegan butter I’ve ever used!
Soy single/whipping cream: I love using soy single/whipping cream in my buttercream frosting recipes as it gives such a lovely fluffy and creamy texture to it. If you can’t find soy cream, you can just use soy milk if you want.
Black sugar: Black sugar is a type of very dark sugar produced in Okinawa, Japan. It has a rich taste and is used in cooking and baking. The black syrup is made of black sugar and water and is a very common syrup to use in desserts in Japan. If you can’t find black sugar, the perfect substitute is molasses! They have a very similar consistency and flavour.
Other ingredients: apple cider vinegar, baking powder, and baking soda.
Recommended equipment for this recipe
Cupcake tin: I have cupcake/muffin tins that can bake 6 or 9 cupcakes at one time. You can use a silicone one or a metal one, whichever you prefer!
Cupcake cups: Cupcake/muffin cups are handy when baking cupcakes. It makes it so much easier to remove them from the tin. If you are not using cupcake cups, make sure to grease the tin with a thin layer of oil or vegan butter before pouring the batter to prevent the cupcakes from sticking.
Piping bag and star tip: Use a fairly big piping bag as this recipe will make buttercream frosting for 10 cupcakes. I like using a big star tip but you can choose whatever shape you would like to use.
*The ingredient list and measurement for this recipe can be found in the recipe card at the bottom.
How to make matcha cupcakes
Step 1: Make vegan buttermilk and mix dry ingredients
First, we are making the cupcakes! In a medium bowl or a jug, mix the soy milk and apple cider vinegar well. This is going to be our vegan buttermilk! Set aside for a few minutes until it’s thick and curdled. In a larger mixing bowl, mix the flour, sugar, matcha powder, cornflour, baking powder, and baking soda together until well combined and no lumps of flour left.
Step 2: Make the batter
Add the vegan buttermilk and vegetable oil to the dry mixture and mix gently with a large wooden spoon or a silicone spatula. Don”t over mix the batter, gently is the key here! If you over mix the cupcakes can become tough and rubbery in texture due to too much gluten.
Step 3: Bake
Line a cupcake tin with cupcake cups and fill them up halfway with the batter. Only fill half so that it rises up just to the top of the cups. Bake at 180°C(350°F) in a preheated oven for 22 mins. To check if they are baked, insert a toothpick into the centre of a cupcake and if it comes out clean, it’s done! If it has wet batter, bake for a further 2-3 mins and check again. Let them cool down to room temperature before frosting.
Step 4: Make black syrup
To make the Japanese black syrup, Simply mix all the ingredients in a saucepan and cook on low heat until it becomes thick and syrupy. About 5-6 mins. Take it off the heat and let it cool down to room temperature.
Step 5: Make vegan matcha buttercream frosting
Let’s make the buttercream frosting now! In a large mixing bowl, mix the icing sugar and matcha powder until very well combined. Set aside.
In a large bowl, beat the room temperature vegan butter cubes with a stand mixer or a hand mixer until it’s creamy and pale in colour. Add the soy single/whipping cream little by little and beat for further 2-3 mins until it becomes creamy and fluffy.
Add the matcha icing sugar mixture about 1 cup at a time and beat until it becomes a creamy buttercream frosting.
Step 6: Assembly
Once the cupcakes and black syrup are cooled down, you can start assembling the cupcakes! First, make a shallow core in the centre of the cupcakes using a small knife. Keep the cutout top. Pour about ½ tsp of the black syrup into the core and put back the top.
Stuff a piping bag with a star tip with the matcha buttercream frosting and frost the cupcakes. I usually start from the centre of the cupcakes then make my way around the side and move up to the top. Drizzle some more black syrup on top and enjoy!
Tips and tricks
Mix the matcha powder well
Matcha powder can make lumps easily and you don’t want them to end up in the cupcakes or frosting, making them partly bitter from the matcha powder. So mix the dry ingredients and icing sugar mixture very well until it’s well combined before mixing with wet ingredients.
Don’t over mix
Over mixing will develop too much gluten in the batter which always ends up in a rubbery, tough texture in the final product. So as I always say, mix gently with a large wooden spoon or a silicone spatula!
How to store these vegan Japanese matcha cupcakes
These cupcakes can last up to 2-3 days in an airtight container in the fridge. If you want to store them for longer, put them in a freezer friendly airtight container and keep them in the freezer for up to 2-3 months. Defrost at room temperature when serving.
You can also store the cupcake and frosting separately in the fridge if desired. Simply put them in separate airtight containers and freeze for up to 2-3 months. When serving, defrost the cupcakes and frosting at room temperature then whip the frosting with an electric mixer to make it fluffy again. Frost as instructed in the recipe card below.
Q and A
Can I use margarine instead of vegan butter?
The soy margarine I can find in my area is a lot softer than butter consistency so I don’t think it would work here but as long as the consistency of the margarine you have is the same as butter, I think it should be fine!
Why did my cupcakes turn brown?
I had the exact same problem myself before! It turns out, that matcha is sensitive to heat and if you bake for a long time or at a very high temperature, it turns brown. The baking time for these cupcakes is 22 mins which is quite quick but if they turned brow, it might be that your oven temperature was higher than it says. Check the temperature with an oven thermometer or try baking at 170°C(335°F) and see if it helps.
Caffeine in matcha
This recipe uses 3 tablespoons of matcha powder in total which contains caffeine. Although it’s milder than coffee and matcha has other beneficial nutritional value to it, please assess carefully before making this recipe if you are sensitive to caffeine.
Want to master the basics of vegan baking?
Check out Vegan Baking 101 – the beginner’s guide to vegan baking for you to become an excellent vegan baker and familiar with the basics of vegan baking, ingredients, and techniques with useful tips!
You will LOVE these green tea cupcakes because they are:
- easy to make
- soft and moist
- great for gift
- authentically Japanese
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