February 24, 2017

Book Review - Matcha The Cookbook by Gretha Scholtz

© Matcha - The Cookbook by Gretha Scholtz, published by teNeues, www.teneues.com. Photo © Patrycia Lukas

I have been practicing my matcha whisking technique as part of my formal tea studies with ITEI. Even before I had the proper motions, I enjoyed preparing and drinking matcha at home. I like my matcha in between koicha (thick tea) and usucha (thin tea). I have also prepared beverages and baked with matcha. Many of the recipes have come from matcha cookbooks I reviewed on this blog. I was lucky in cases to have culinary grade matcha to prepare the recipes. Currently, I happily have a lot of ceremonial grade matcha. I prefer to use this type of matcha in simple beverages. I think the taste of a ceremonial matcha gets lost in a baked good. For this reason, I gravitated towards the beverages section of Matcha - The Cookbook by Gretha Scholtz. I did go outside the Drinks chapter to make the Superfood Matcha White Chocolate Bark for a school bake sale. I substituted cranberries for goji berries and eliminated the pumpkin seeds and pistachios (nut allergies). The bark was a big hit and sold out quickly. The matcha really stood out in terms of color and taste with the white chocolate base. I also made a semisweet chocolate version.

© Matcha - The Cookbook by Gretha Scholtz, published by teNeues, www.teneues.com. Superfood Matcha White Chocolate Bark, Photo © Patrycia Lukas

Matcha - The Cookbook is a sleeveless hardcover. The cover design is striking. White lettering and photos of vibrant matcha pop against the dark purple background. The ends papers are matcha green. The photographs, by Patrycia Lukas, are gorgeous, numerous, and well placed throughout the book. The book is organized in two main parts: history and guide & recipes. Within the former section, the chapters are History of Matcha, Green Tea Utensils and Tips, Japanese Tea Ceremony, How to Make a Cup of Matcha Tea, Why I Love Matcha, and Matcha - How to Recognize Quality. The Recipes section has chapters on Healthy Starts and Snacks, Drinks, Savory Matcha, Sweet Matcha, Baking, and Matcha Spa. All non-fiction/reference style books should have an index, and this cookbook does. This book's subject, matcha recipes, dominates the book. The history and guide section is only nine pages out of a 175 page book. This section presents a quick introduction to matcha rather than a deep dive into the tea. Volume and weight measurements are provided for each recipe. Many of the recipes are accompanied by a set of author's tips. For example, for the No-Bake Matcha Cream Cheese Tart, Gretha recommends using a tart pan with a removable bottom. For the Chocolate Fondants, you can use heatproof espresso or teacups if you don't have ramekins.

© Matcha - The Cookbook by Gretha Scholtz, published by teNeues, www.teneues.com. Four-Ingredient Japanese Cheesecake, Photo © Patrycia Lukas

The recipes have a logical order. Moving from snacks to baked goods, the recipes increase in complication. Within a subsection, an ingredient made for one recipe can be used in a later recipe. The matcha syrup prepared for Kiwi Caipirinha on page 55 is used in the Green Tea Gin and Tonic on page 57. Also, stand-alone recipes can be paired. One example is serving the Matcha White Hot Chocolate (p. 42) with the Matcha Marshmallows (p. 118).

You will find the usual suspects and some creative recipes. The matchaccino seems similar to the popular matcha latte but have you had a layered Salted Caramel Coconut Matcha Latte? You've heard of bullet coffee, right? Gretha Scholtz created the Bulletproof Green Tea. The book has a recipe for matcha dusted nuts in the Sweets but in the same chapter has a recipe for White Chocolate Matcha Panna Cotta.

Baking, the final chapter, has many sweet recipes but is distinguished from the prior chapter, Sweets, by the baking process. Most of the recipes in the last chapter are jaw dropping either because of novelty or beautiful presentation or both. Consider the Four-Ingredient Japanese Cheesecake, the Dark Chocolate Triple-Layer Matcha Cake, and the Fully Loaded Matcha Drip Cake. Each element of the latter recipe, which is also the last recipe in Baking, is made with matcha. The cake, chocolate bark, buttercream icing, ganache drizzle, and decorative pieces.

© Matcha - The Cookbook by Gretha Scholtz, published by teNeues, www.teneues.com. Green Hollandaise Sauce, Photo © Patrycia Lukas

I would only use poor quality or old matcha for the Spa recipes, and Gretha Scholtz admits to the same. Would you wear a matcha face mask while soaking in a matcha bath? If a matcha spa is not your thing, consider drinking your matcha in Bulletproof Green Tea or Matcha Lemonade. The bulletproof tea was very rich. Definitely add a sweetener; I used honey. The lemonade was refreshing and you can get away with using less sugar. Have more of a savory tooth? Want to stay truer to the umami nature of matcha? The Savory chapter might be your go-to. Much of what appealed to me about this chapter were the sauces and dips. A dip makes eating raw vegetables fun and a sauce can make an ordinary dish outstanding.

What are your favorite matcha recipes?

The cookbook reviewed in this post is courtesy of teNeues Media.

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