With St Patricks day coming up, we tend to see a surge of green-coloured food and drinks infiltrate the shops, stores and blog feeds. A lot of these use artificial green colouring, but not being a huge fan of artificial colourings, I decided to share a naturally green treat for St Paddys day instead. I’m not sure that there’s anything Irish about this treat – other than the soft green hue… though surely the Irish love chocolate as much as the rest of us, no? In fact I’m pretty sure when I went to Ireland back in 2006 I bought a chocolate bar – so there you have it! ;)
Matcha – which I have used to colour and flavour this raw white chocolate – is finely ground, high quality green tea leaves produced in Japan. Green tea has a number of health benefits such as being very high in antioxidants – matcha more so than traditional green tea as you ingest the whole l(ground) leaves rather than just steeping then discard them. Some studies have also indicated that regular consumption of green tea/matcha can reduce the risk of stroke and cardiovascular disease, and help with weight loss and management.
Matcha has a very distinct taste – with strong vegetal tones and being naturally slightly sweet. Good quality macha should not be overly sweet though, or bitter, however the taste can take a little getting used to for some people.
The first time I tried matcha was when I went to Japan on holiday in 2009, where evvvvverything was matcha flavoured. From Kit Kats to Starbucks lattes to McDonalds McFlurries. I tried a few different matcha-flavoured treats and wasn’t really sure what the fuss was about – to me they all tasted sickly sweet like the non-matcha flavoured counterparts, but with a funny aftertaste. It wasn’t until I purchased a small tin of matcha chocolates that I finally started to click. I’m not sure what the ingredients were (the list was in Japanese) but they were delicious – creamy, not too sweet and with that subtle but distinguishable matcha taste.
When I was thinking of what ingredients to pair with my matcha chocolate, my mind immediately turned to genmaicha, which is a traditional Japanaese style of green tea served with toasted rice. I Googled how to make the rice myself and found this article online, however in the end I went with the easy option and bought some genmaicha from my local Asian supermarket. A bit of a cop out I know, but I wanted to make the recipe easy for everyone, and the process for making your own genmaicha seemed a little long-winded and complicated. That said, I do like a cooking challenge, and love making things from scratch, so this may have to be a project I save for a rainy day.
If green tea chocolate just isn’t your thing, you may want to try one of my other (naturally) green coloured dishes this St Paddy’s day.
And for the main even, how about a simple Greens + beans soup to tantalise your taste buds or the creme de la creme of all green coloured food, my Green pesto pizza, which is green from the base through to the toppings.
And if you are new to matcha and find that you looooove it and want to experiment with it some more, I found a few recipes online that might interest you like this delicious Coconut Vanilla Matcha Smoothie or a warming cup of Matcha Coconut Latte. And to dunk into that latte, these Matcha Choc Chip Cookies sound just perfect.
- 120g | 4.3oz raw cacao butter, roughly chopped
- 2 - 3 Tbsp raw honey
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 2/3 cup raw macadamia nuts
- 1 tsp matcha green tea powder
- 2 Tbsp genmaicha
- Add the cacao butter, honey, vanilla and salt to a saucepan over very low heat and allow to melt completely. Remove from heat and set aside a few minutes to cool slightly.
- Food processor method - Add the macadamia nuts to a food processor and blend a few minutes until they are completely smooth. You will need to stop every so often to scrape down the sides. Add the cacao butter liquid and matcha and mix until combined.
- Blender method - Add the nuts, matcha and cacao butter mixture to a high-powered blender and mix on high until smooth.
- Pour the chocolate mix onto a lined cookie sheet and use a spatular to spread out to your desired thickness (usually around 0.5 - 1cm | 0.2 - 0.4in). Sprinkle with the genmaicha and place in the freezer to set.
- Once set, break into bite-sized pieces. Store in the fridge up to two weeks.
- A few notes about substitutions - you could use cashews in place of macadamias here and other sweeteners in place of the raw honey (eg maple syrup) though this will change the colour and flavour slightly.
- Cacao butter is the star ingredient here and can be bought from health food stores, or some larger supermarkets.