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great pairings

Recipe: chocolate matcha earl grey cake

The date sort of snuck up on us. We are both bad about remembering dates, but my MIL called on Friday to say there was something special to look for in the post – something for our anniversary. Our what?! Oh that’s right… We celebrated 11 years of marital dorkiness on Saturday. Marriage was never something either of us really wanted. It was what our mothers kept asking about since we were living in sin for many years. We finally caved in since we realized our car insurance would go down – way down. Bargain! I think we would feel better about marriage if some of our dear friends could marry and enjoy the same rights we do.

We didn’t do anything special, just ran a ton of errands. We discovered that Chinese food on the flats is neither Chinese nor food really… The day was incredibly warm – 70 Effingham degrees? It was a cruel joke as far as I was concerned. March is when the weather flirts with spring then winter then spring then winter. You get those hoochie mama crop top days when you have to shield your eyes from the exposed white limbs of undergraduates on campus, chased down by those gorgeous spring upslope events that dump a ton of powder and send the ski whores rejoicing back on the mountains. Anyway, I promised Jeremy I would make a nice something or other in celebration of our day since this is my good week before the next treatment. He likes chocolate and I had matcha on the brain.

one caffeinated cake

But it had to wait until today because we were finishing up season 2.5 of Battlestar Galactica last night. The cake almost didn’t happen as the pendulum swung from spring back to winter and I had a hard time not heading out for the local hill!

yeah baby!

Jeremy had a lot of work to do though, so we kept one another company at the kitchen table. I settled on a chocolate chiffon cake with Earl Grey soaking syrup, matcha buttercream frosting and Earl Grey-infused dark chocolate ganache. Deciding is the hardest part. Making is the fun part!

the flavor trio: Earl Grey, dark chocolate, matcha

The chocolate chiffon cake recipe I use isn’t terribly sweet, which I prefer. It is also flavored with hazelnut paste and almond extract, adding an extra dimension to the flavor profile.

folding egg whites into the chocolate base

Last time I made matcha buttercream frosting, the green tea flavor was pretty subtle. So I doubled the amount of matcha powder and I like the more dominant presence. You need something pretty strong to sing along with chocolate.

heavenly matcha swiss meringue buttercream frosting

My experience with Earl Grey anything is that it is always too weak, particularly when paired with chocolate. This time I made an Earl Grey soaking syrup, which tasted strong on its own, but again, disappeared within the chocolate chiffon. However, the addition of Earl Grey to the chocolate ganache helped to bring it out in the cake somewhat. Still need to work on that.

earl grey soaking syrup

I did my standard cake assembly here: four layers of cake, each soaked in syrup and layered with buttercream, then frosted and garnished. I rather love the look of the colors – the hint of green against the dark chocolate layers. It’s perfect for March, no?

brush in the syrup

spread the buttercream

crumb coat

topped with ganache

The crumb of the cake is wonderfully tender and as long as you serve it at room temperature the buttercream is creamy and smooth – quite complimentary. All of it melts in your mouth in a burst of caffeinated elation. The matcha flavor is strong and up front, then an understated Earl Grey emerges, and finally a subtle almond accent to the chocolate. I think I would prefer a stronger chocolate presence, perhaps adding a thin layer of ganache between the buttercream and the cake next time? Always a learning experience.

mission accomplished

Chocolate Matcha Earl Grey Cake
[print recipe]

2 9-inch round chocolate chiffon cakes
16 oz. Earl Grey simple syrup
1 batch matcha Swiss meringue buttercream
Earl Grey chocolate ganache for decoration

chocolate chiffon cake
makes 2 9×3 rounds
this recipe originally intended for baking at 5300 ft.

10.5 oz. cake flour
3 oz. cocoa powder
8.75 oz. confectioners sugar
0.5 oz. baking powder (omitted at 8500 ft.)
7 oz. whole milk
6 oz. canola oil
3 eggs (4 eggs if small)
1 tsp almond extract
2 oz. praline paste (or hazelnut paste)
13 oz. egg whites
9 oz. granulated sugar

Oven 375°F. Prep pans by buttering bottom and sides. Place parchment in pan and butter the parchment. Sift dry ingredients (except granulated sugar) into a large bowl. Mix all ingredients (except the 13 ounces of egg whites and granulated sugar) in the large bowl until combined. Whip whites and granulated sugar to medium peaks. Fold into batter gently. Bake until set, about 20-25 minutes. Remove from oven and remove from pan. Let cool completely on a rack.

simple syrup
1/2 oz. Earl Grey loose tea
2 cups water, boiling
12 oz. sugar

Steep the tea leaves in the boiled water for 6 minutes. Strain the tea into a pot and add sugar. Over high heat, stir the sugar until dissolved and bring to boil. Remove from heat. Let cool.

matcha swiss meringue buttercream
makes about 1.5 quarts

8 oz. egg whites
16 oz. sugar
1 lb. butter, room temperature
4 tbsps matcha powder (you can reduce this if it’s too strong)

Combine egg whites and sugar in a Kitchenaid mixing bowl. Whisk constantly over a bain marie until 140°F is reached. Place on mixer with whisk and whip until stiff. Turn down whip speed to 3rd and whip until cool to the touch (this takes a while – should be cooler than your hand). Change to a paddle and gradually add soft butter by tablespoon pieces. Mix to emulsify. Once desired consistency has been reached, add matcha powder to taste.

earl grey chocolate ganache
1/4 oz. Earl Grey loose tea leaves
6 oz. heavy cream
6 oz. semi-sweet chocolate, chopped

Place chocolate in a medium size bowl. Heat the cream in a pot over medium flame until just simmering. Turn off the heat and stir the tea leaves into the cream. Cover the pot tightly and let steep for an hour. Strain the tea leaves out of the cream (you should have about 4 ounces of cream). Return the cream to the pot and reheat to steaming. Remove from heat and pour the cream over the chocolate. Let sit for a minute then stir until blended. Set aside to cool.

To assemble the cake: Trim the dome tops off of the cakes. Cut four even layers of cake. Place a base piece down on serving plate. Using a pastry brush, apply soaking syrup to the cake layer (I apply twice – the chiffon can hold a lot of liquid). Spread a layer of buttercream on the layer. Set second layer of cake on the buttercream. Repeat soaking syrup and buttercream layers. Before setting the fourth cake layer (should be a base piece, inverted), soak the cut side of the layer with soaking syrup then place it cut-side down on the buttercream. Crumb coat the assemblage, then apply final buttercream frosting to sides and top of cake. Fill a pastry bag fitted with a large tip with the ganache. Pipe decorations onto the cake. Serve at room temperature. Serves 12-16.

51 nibbles at “great pairings”

  1. manggy says:

    “Marital dorkiness”– haha, I love it!! 70°F is COLD!

    That is perhaps the most exquisite chiffon cake recipe I’ve seen! Hazelnut paste? I bow down to you :) The cake is quite gorgeous! I’ve not tried a tea-chocolate combination before (probably because usually the only tea I have is *iced* tea)! Happy anniversary, you guys!

  2. Joy the Baker says:

    Gorgeous pictures! Really beautiful! And happy eleven years of marital dorkiness!

  3. pumpkinpie says:

    Congratulations! Your anniversary and beautiful cake are both inspirational accomplishments. Society hardly nurtures marital dedication– thanks for the reminder that life doesn’t have to be one drama after another.

  4. peabody says:

    Happy anniversary…mine is next Friday(piday…the 14th).
    I agree that deciding is the hard part and making is the fun part. What a great looking celebration cake.

  5. Susan at StickyGooeyCreamyChewy says:

    Happy Anniversary! Take it from an ex-divorce lawyer, eleven years is quite an accomplishment! What a beautiful and elegant cake to celebrate with. I’m intrigued by the hazelnut paste. I’ve never seen it before. Did you make it?

  6. Kaykat says:

    *drool*. That chocolate ganache … I can’t quite take my eyes off this cake! :)

  7. White On Rice Couple says:

    Now this is a very effin’ beauiful and special 11th anniversary cake! Congrats to 11 years of living “ethically”. We’re still living in the the sin that you both managed to save your souls from. Finished the 12th year together, now we’re working toward our lucky 13th. We’re bad…spank! spank! :)
    BTW- We’ll have to look into insurance discount possibilities for married couples, maybe then? :)

  8. Graeme says:


    You had me at that folding egg whites shot, but that little bit of Ganache on the end of the Cake’s nose is incredible!

  9. Ginny says:

    I love it! It is so beautiful! I’ve been getting bored with my normal chocolate cakes but this is enough to jazz it up! congrats on the anniversary! stay warm!

  10. Patricia Scarpin says:

    I have never baked with tea…

  11. Mia says:

    Happy Anniversary! I’ve been religiously reading your blog for the past couple of months or so – I love it! You make some amazing dishes, and this cake is no exception. It’s gorgeous, and I love the tea theme. I’ll need to dream up an occassion to make something similar….

  12. maria~ says:

    As a tea enthusiast, that cake looks like pure nirvana for me. I’ll definitely have to try it out! Thanks for sharing!

  13. Susan says:

    congratulations on your anniversary. and i must say, i am always amazed at the creations you come up with. they are both beautiful and tasty! thanks for sharing with us.

  14. Janet from prettytastycakes says:

    beautiful cake! the flavor combinations sound delicious!

  15. Bridget says:

    Congratulations on eleven years of marriage! The cake is beautiful, and I bet you had a blast making it.

  16. Nicisme says:

    ‘Grats’ as my teen son would say!
    Cake or ski…. mmmmm…. gotta be the cake – I just want to do a head plant in it!

  17. kathryn says:

    Happy Anniversary!!

    I cannot believe that cake! It is BEAUTIFUL! It looks very complicated, and frankly, scares me a little.


  18. Irene says:

    Happy Anniversary! Lovely cake. The green does look very much like spring :)

  19. K says:

    The “folding egg whites into the chocolate base” picture is simply beautiful. You are so talented. :)

    And what a great anniversary treat! The cake sounds dee-lish.

  20. michelle @ thursday night smackdown says:

    every one of these pictures is gorgeous.

    i’ve made matcha buttercream for cakes before, but have never paired it with chocolate. and i love the soaking syrup. i don’t do many sponges, but next time i do i’ll definitely try a tea-infused syrup.


  21. kate says:

    congratulations on 11 yrs … i’ve just completed 6 …. long way to go yet.

    Love your cake. the layers look so perfect and matcha and chocolate really go well together.

    Wish you all the happiness and luck for the comming years.

  22. Amy says:

    Oh my god this cake is friggin amazing! You combined all of my favorite things into that glorious cake. 70 degrees and then all that snow? What crazy weather. :D

  23. Mandy says:

    chocolate + matcha happens to be my favorite combination too. I have to bookmark this recipe for our special occasion!

  24. Kevin says:

    That cake looks amazing! The chocolate and matcha combo is one of my favorites.

  25. Rhiannon says:

    Just beautiful.

  26. Jesse says:

    Amazing. White chocolate and matcha have always been a homerun in my books, but I’ve never tried matcha with a darker chocolate before. Doi!

  27. brilynn says:

    That is one seriously good looking cake!

  28. Jaime says:

    happy anniversary! that cake looks amazing!

  29. cakebrain says:

    Hey, I was just making chocolate chiffon the other day. Yours looks way better! I love the layers, the soaking syrup idea and the matcha buttercream. The flavours really appeal to me! Way to go!

  30. Maja says:

    Hi, Jen! Happy anniversary and on many many many more! And you’re absolutely right, marriage with all its perks should be every couple’s right. :) Your cake looks lovely, i’m usually soaking cakes with fruit syrups, so i’ll defenitely try your tea version, you’ve opened a whole new world of perspectives to me. Enjoy your days and oh, the snow!, they say it is snowing right now 20 kms from where i live, but all i see is the rain, so unfair! :) lp, Maja

  31. linda says:

    For all that it’s worth happy belated anniversary ;)
    Delicious looking cake, love the way you piped the earl grey ganache.

  32. Hannah says:

    Wow, what a combination of flavors… And of course, it’s simply beautiful, too!

  33. Annina says:


    I really like your blog and found your link on Daring Bakers! (I’m also a proud one!) So.. ’cause I like your blog so much I added your link on my blog on the right! Hope this is okay for you!! If not – just tell me! :)

    Greetings from Switzerland, Annina (Ann’s Food)

  34. Sindy says:

    Happy Anniversary Jen! As usual your pictures are exquisite! I sit here thinking that food could really taste like crap and I would still eat it because it is SO beautiful! But I know better, I have made several of your recipes and they have all been wonderful. But never as beautiful as yours. I try to BS my readers (when I reference your blog) and claim that you just have better picture taking skills than I do ..but we all know THAT just aint true either …ok Darnit …that is true TOO!

  35. jenyu says:

    Mark – 70F is hot, baby! You’re as bad as Graeme and fish. I couldn’t marry you either ;) I’m not a tea drinker (don’t like hot beverages unless I’m sick), but it’s fun playing around with the flavors, no? Thanks for the happy wishes!!

    Joy – thanks!

    Pumpkinpie – thank you, that’s very sweet.

    Peabody – dude!!! Did you plan that on purpose? 3.14? I *love* that, you geek :)

    Susan – thanks love! I used half hazelnut paste I made (leftover from another time) which was toasted hazelnuts ground up with sugar and some vegetable oil and a pinch of salt. But the other half was hazelnut butter which I purchased from Whole Foods. Hard to find. I really wanted praline paste which is *heavenly* but I’ve only ever seen it and used it in my pastry class.

    Kaykat – I am rather fond of it too, because I really like green :)

    WoRC – hey thanks guys! Living in sin is very much similar to living “properlike”, but I think marriage is overrated considering how many people f’ it up. The most important part of marriage is having the legal right to make decisions about your partner, like whether or not to pull the plug or what happens if they should die. Sucks, but it sucks worse if you don’t have any say.

    Graeme – that’s your slice! Where the hell are you and why aren’t you here?? ;)

    Ginny – thanks! and chocolate cakes can always be snazzed up with something exciting, no?

    Patricia – it’s fun, you should definitely try it.

    Mia – aw, you’re so sweet. Thanks! Don’t wait for a special occasion – every day is a special day :) Don’t let a single one pass you by. xxoo

    Maria – I’m actually tea-stupid, but Jeremy is our resident tea whore. I hope you have fun with it!

    Susan – no, thank YOU for reading and commenting! Wonderful readers make it all worth sharing.

    Janet – thanks!

    Bridget – thank you, and it was pretty fun to make (because I didn’t screw anything up royally this time!) hee hee.

    Nicisme – ha ha! That’s a hilarious way to think of it! thanks :)

    Kathryn – don’t be scared, sweetie! If I could, I’d mail you a slice so you could overcome your fear… by eating it. ;)

    Irene – thank you!

    K – you’re too kind, thanks!

    Michelle – gawd, I just visited your blog. You’re swearing is after my own heart!

    Kate – if you’ve hit 6, then you’re well on your way to 11. Thanks and wishing you the same for the next 5 and 50 years :)

    Amy – crazy weather indeed! Of course I combined all of your favorites into the cake – we can’t possibly finish it all ourselves – where are you and why aren’t you here helping us eat it?! :)

    Mandy – like I told Mia, I hope you don’t wait for a special occasion to make the cake – just do it any old day. Every day is special, right? :)

    Kevin – seems to be a favorite combo with a lot of folks!

    Rhiannon – thank you.

    Jesse – Oh, I definitely like dark chocolate with matcha more than white chocolate with matcha :)

    Brilynn – thanks, lady!

    Jaime – thank you :)

    Cakebrain – cake always looks better when it’s gussied up with frosting!

    Maja – I have only tried soaking syrups with booze or tea, but never fruit syrups. What a neat concept! Thanks for the idea :) See – we are inspiring each other :) Oh, I think we’ll be getting rain soon enough *sigh*

    Linda – thanks for the belated wishes!

    Hannah – thank you!

    Annina – glad you found it and welcome! No problems linking, and from Switzerland – how cool :)

    Sindy – aw, you’re too sweet! You know, most of what we eat doesn’t look anything like what you see on the blog. I just make sure to have one good serving for the shoot. I mean, if I posted bad pics, no one would want to try to recipes! :) xxoo

  36. Nekkutyttoe says:

    Oh sweet mother in Heaven, that looks and sounds absolutely amazing! The combination of Earl Gray and chocolate has been popping up everywhere, maybe I’ll have to give it a try… Your cooking is a true inspiration. I wish the best of luck to you!

  37. jenyu says:

    Nekkutyttoe – thanks a lot. I hope you meet with success on the cake!

  38. Minerva says:

    Looking at those photographs is pure torture! Gorgeous cake! I think I’ll make it and have some with masala chai hehe

  39. Mrs.W says:

    Gorgeous cake–your photos are always droolworthy.

  40. jenyu says:

    Minerva – sounds great!

    Mrs. W – thank you so much :)

  41. Judith says:

    Earl grey and chocolate? Oh, I am there. But where on earth do you get matcha powder? I keep seeing it in recipes but I didn’t think it was available in the US.

    Also, as the resident lesbian food blogger, hardeehar, I’d like to say I appreciated your little side note about how marriage would mean more if your friends were able to marry as well. I don’t think I’ve ever heard it put that way from a male/female married couple perspective, and I appreciate it :-)

  42. jenyu says:

    Judith – I found matcha powder in the tea section of our local Whole Foods store. I love that stuff :) As for marriage, I’m just sorry that you don’t have the same rights as I do – YET. It’s not gay rights, it’s civil rights – for everyone. xxoo

  43. Ashley says:

    Beautiful cake! Great tea creation.

  44. jenyu says:

    Ashley – thanks!

  45. Crap Detox - Part 5 - What I Know Now | Just MakeItBetter says:

    […] I want to thoroughly enjoy every minute here and that includes my time with cake. […]

  46. Shelley says:

    Use Bergamot Oil to enhance the flavor of the Earl Grey. Bergamot is the main flavor of Earl Grey. I also found an Earl Grey tea with double the Bergamot in it (not sure what that’s like as I just bought it.)

  47. jenyu says:

    Shelley – thanks for the tip.

  48. wei ying says:

    Hi!!! I’ve been quite curious about earl grey desserts lately and i just thought this recipe looked pretty dang amazing (I absolutely adore matcha too so yea). But for all the recipes on this site including this one, are they only suited for high elevation? Well, i’m from singapore so i’m kinda… uncertain about how the cakes would turn out if i followed the recipe here… do i have to do anything different?

    please and thank you!

  49. jenyu says:

    Wei – all of the instructions should work at sea-level. Any high altitude adjustments are in parentheses. Good luck.

  50. Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire . . . « says:

    […] obsession. I finally decided on a recipe from the blog Use Real Butter. The recipe was for a Chocolate Matcha Earl Grey Cake. Here are some of the modifications I made to the chiffon cake […]

  51. Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire . . . | ai love baking says:

    […] obsession. I finally decided on a recipe from the blog Use Real Butter. The recipe was for a Chocolate Matcha Earl Grey Cake. Here are some of the modifications I made to the chiffon cake […]

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