Take heart, there's more to Sweet (Artisan Books, October 2013) by Valerie Gordon of Valerie Confections (Los Angeles) than her Valentine's Pie...
Her Matcha flavored cakes sounded perfect for today's Tokyo Thursdays
Matcha Mini-Cakes with Lemon Verbena Ganache
Makes Eight 3-inch Square Mini-Cakes
Lemon verbena is a perennial herb that imparts the bright flavor of lemon without the acidity. The combination of lemon and green tea tastes light, refreshing, and clean, making these cakes the perfect finish to a spicy meal. The tops and sides of the cakes are left unadorned for a minimalist look.
For the Cake
1 ½ cups (7.5 ounces) all-purpose flour
1/3 teaspoon baking powder
1/3 teaspoon salt
1 ½ sticks plus 2 tablespoons (7 ounces) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup (7 ounces) sugar
1 ½ tablespoons matcha tea
3 large eggs
3 tablespoons crème fraîche or sour cream
2 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
For the Lemon Verbena Ganache
1 cup (8 ounces) heavy cream
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
½ cup (4 grams) dried lemon verbena
2 teaspoons powdered gelatin
3 tablespoons cold water
1 ¾ cups (9.5 ounces) 31% white chocolate chips or fèves or chopped 31% white chocolate
8 tablespoons (1 stick/4 ounces) unsalted butter, softened
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1 tablespoon lemon juice
½ teaspoon ground dried lemon verbena
To make the cake
1. Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 325°F. Coat the bottom and sides of a 13-by-18-by-1-inch baking sheet with nonstick baking spray or butter and line with parchment paper. Smooth the parchment, making sure there are no air bubbles.
2. Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt into a medium bowl.
3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or in a large bowl, using a handheld mixer), cream the butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the matcha and beat for 30 seconds, or until the color of the butter mixture is uniform.
4. Whisk together the eggs, crème fraîche, and vanilla in a small bowl, then pour into the creamed butter and beat until smooth. Scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl and the paddle and mix for 30 seconds.
5. Beating on low speed, add the dry ingredients in three batches, mixing for 1 to 2 minutes after each addition. Scrape the bowl again and mix for 15 seconds.
6. Pour the batter onto the prepared baking sheet, spreading it evenly with an offset spatula. Bake for 10 minutes. Rotate the pan and bake for an additional 3 to 4 minutes, until the cake appears firm and has a matte finish. Let the cake cool completely in the pan on a cooling rack. Chill the cake for a minimum of 10 to 15 minutes before building the mini-cakes.
To make the Ganache
1. Put the cream, corn syrup, and ½ cup dried lemon verbena into a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Turn off the heat, cover the pan with aluminum foil, and poke a few holes into the top to allow steam to release. Let steep for 1 hour.
2. Sprinkle the gelatin over the cold water in a small bowl. Let sit for 10 minutes, until the gelatin softens.
3. Put the chocolate into a medium bowl and set aside.
4. Strain the cream mixture and return it to the pan. Add the gelatin and heat over medium-low heat, stirring until the gelatin is dissolved and the cream has almost come to a boil. Pour the cream over the chocolate and let sit for 1 minute.
5. Using a small rubber spatula, begin stirring the white chocolate mixture in one direction, concentrating on the center, until smooth and glistening. Add the butter and stir until it is completely melted, about 1 minute. Add the lemon zest, lemon juice, and ½ teaspoon ground dried lemon verbena and stir until well incorporated. Put the ganache in the coolest part of your kitchen and let set, stirring occasionally, until spreadable, for about 1 hour before using. (The ganache can be covered and refrigerated for up to 2 weeks; see instructions below.)
To Assemble the Cakes
1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Using a ruler as a guide, score lines 3 inches apart, both vertically and horizontally, on the chilled sheet cake. Then cut into 24 squares with a very sharp knife.
2. Place 8 cake squares on the parchment-lined baking sheet. Using an offset spatula, spread approximately 2 tablespoons ganache over each one. Top each with a second cake square and 2 tablespoons ganache, then top each with a third cake layer. Let stand until the ganache has set, then gently cover the tray pan with plastic wrap and refrigerate until serving.
The cakes can be stored, covered, in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
Using Leftover (or Chilled) Buttercream and Ganache
Leftover buttercream or ganache will keep in your refrigerator for up to 2 weeks, to be used for another dessert. And it will taste like fresh-made if you follow a few simple steps.
Chilled buttercream is very hard, so you need to let it come to room temperature and then aggressively whip it. Put the room-temperature buttercream in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or in a large bowl, and use a handheld mixer) and beat on low speed. As the buttercream starts to break up, increase the speed to medium. After about 1 minute, the buttercream will soften and separate. This may make you nervous, but just continue mixing, and within another minute or so, the buttercream will come back together and appear brand-new.
Ganache is not as malleable as buttercream, and leftovers require a more delicate handling. Let the ganache come to room temperature (do not try to rush the process—firm chilled ganache is likely to separate and become grainy when beaten). Then put it in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment (or in a large bowl, and use a handheld mixer) and whip on medium-low speed until the ganache forms soft peaks. Chill for 10 to 15 minutes, then spread it with an offset spatula.
Baking it Green for Tokyo Thursdays # 279
(*Excerpted from Sweet by Valerie Gordon -Artisan Books- Copyright © 2013. Photographs by Peden + Munk.)