It's not for everyone - maybe it's an acquired taste - but I love the flavour of matcha green tea. Combined with some vanilla, milk and honey, it makes the most delicious hot drink - it has a natural, grassy flavour that can taste bitter on its own. Adding a bit of sweetness tones down the bitter notes and lets its natural, mild flavour shine.
In Japan and other parts of East Asia, subtle flavours are often the goal for desserts. Mochi (chewy sweets made from glutonous rice flour) are usually flavoured with sweet beans or - yes - matcha. Japan's famous jiggly, light cheesecakes are sometimes plain or made with matcha or other mild flavours. Nothing is too bold or over-the-top.
Getting your hands on matcha powder in Ireland can be expensive. It's obviously imported and the quality is quite high, even in the less expensive varieties. I love matcha, but when I recently interviewed Thalli Foods for a cover feature, they mentioned they have been making an Irish alternative - from nettles!
I was very intrigued, so I ordered some nettle powder soon after. The flavour is very subtle, grassy and - similar to matcha - when combined with a few sweet ingredients, makes really delicious treats. It's also considered a healthy add-in for smoothies and porridge. I just love its look and flavour.
These macarons are not perfect - I am not a pastry chef - but they are delicious, filled with a nettle cream cheese buttercream. Even my kids ate them - and they are always wary of green food.
Makes 8-16 macarons (depending on size)
2 egg whites, room temperature (no bits of yolk!)
100g granulated sugar
50g ground almond
80g powdered sugar
1 Tbsp Thalli Foods nettle powder
For the buttercream:
500g icing sugar
100g cream cheese
2 tsp nettle powder
1 tsp vanilla
1 Tbsp butter, softened