White Chocolate Raspberry Cupcakes:
Today white chocolate may seem very common in the United States, however we have the Swiss to thank for being able to enjoy it. Chocolate comes from the Cocoa tree that is native to Mexico, Central and South America. It was not until the Spanish conquest of the Aztecs in the 16th century that chocolate could be imported to Europe. For many years it was enjoyed just as a drink that only royalty and well-connected people could afford. Chocolate in the solid form, as we know it today, wasn’t invented until 1847. Advances made during the industrial revolution made many improvements to the chocolate making process including the ability to extract Cocoa Butter. It is thought that White Chocolate was invented in Switzerland sometime in the 1930’s as a way of using excess cocoa butter. White chocolate is a combination of sugar, cocoa butter and milk solids. Raspberries, native to Europe and North America, go well with milk or cream like other berries. These fresh raspberry cupcakes are topped with a delicate white chocolate buttercream. The creamy nature of white chocolate makes it the perfect paring for the raspberry cake.
Matcha Green Tea Cupcakes:
Green tea is another item that is now easily found in many grocery stores here in the United States. There are many types of green tea originating from both Japan and China. However, matcha is a very special kind of green tea. To create matcha, the tea bushes are covered to prevent direct sunlight. This slows down growth, turns the leaves darker and makes them sweeter. The leaves are hand picked, laid out to dry, de-veined, de-stemmed, and stone ground to the fine, bright green, talc-like powder known as matcha. It can take up to one hour to grind 30 grams of matcha powder. In Japan matcha is used for the Japanese Tea Ceremony, which is a ritual of preparing and serving Japanese green tea together with traditional Japanese sweets. The purpose of the ceremony is not about drinking tea, but it is a zen and meditative experience. “…sharing Tea is not about the past or about the future, it is not about accomplishment, ambition, possessions, but about a fragment of time where peace, serenity, and respect become One”.(Taken from The Tea Journey, by Joy Mari Sato) To see a Joy’s video demonstration of a traditional Japanese Tea Ceremony click here. These cupcakes are made with Japanses matcha green tea powder and topped with honey buttercream to represent the “sweets” eaten during the ceremony.
Mango Ginger Cake Pops
The Mango Ginger cupcakes were so popular that I thought I would make them into Cake Pops. Cake pops are just what they sound like, little balls of cake and frosting dipped in white chocolate and served on a stick just like a lollipop.