Matcha Cupcakes with Red Bean Filling and Kinako Frosting

"It's manju, but in cupcake form"

That was the only way I could describe these cupcakes and my inspiration to my coworkers, who greedily ate all of them. For those who don't know, manju is a Japanese dessert that is usually filled with sweet red bean paste. It can be baked or steamed, and it can come in flavors like green tea or kinako. I took my favorite elements of these classic treats from my childhood to make an updated cake that might appeal to the larger population.

The cupcakes are wonderfully light with a fantastic aftertaste of sweet green tea. Kinako frosting has a taste similar to peanut butter, but even more awesome. It's an irreplaceable flavor. The frosting isn't terrible sweet and is fluffy. This recipe does not make a lot of frosting, as the red bean adds a lot of sweetness to the cake and is unnecessary. If you want a cupcake with quite a bit of frosting, multiply the recipe by 1.5.

They dubbed these cupcakes "Hapa-fabulous" after tasting them. I could not have asked for a greater compliment. This recipe makes 24 cupcakes. I make mine extra large, so for me it's really more like 22...

Matcha Cupcakes (adapted from Cupcake Bakeshop)

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 12 oz (3 cups) all purpose flour
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 Tbsp matcha powder
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp brandy or Scotch whiskey (I used Suntory Yamazaki 12 year)
  • 1 package of coarse red bean paste (you will have leftovers)
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Mix matcha powder with whiskey to create a tincture. This will bring out the bright color of the matcha better than mixing it with the milk or with the butter.
  3. Cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Then add eggs and egg yolks
  4. Sift together flour, salt and baking powder. Add half the flour to butter and beat until combined.
  5. Add milk and matcha, beating until combined. Add the remaining flour mixture.
  6. Pour into prepared muffin cups and bake for 20 minutes until toothpick inserted comes out clean.
  7. After cupcakes are cool, cut a small cone out of the top of the cupcake
  8. Cut the bottom of the cone off, leaving a small lid
  9. Fill hole with a little bit of red bean paste and top with your cake lid. The cupcakes are now ready for frosting.
Kinako Frosting
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 Tbsp flour
  • 2 Tbsp kinako flour (roasted soybean flour)
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  1. Cook flour, milk, sugar, and 1 Tbsp of kinako in saucepan over medium heat until a thick roux is created
  2. Beat thickened mixture with electric beaters until cool
  3. Add butter 1 tablespoon at a time until emulsified. If mixture is too warm, place in refrigerator to let cool
  4. Add vanilla and extra 1 Tbsp kinako until frosting is the correct consistency and flavor you like. I think more kinako is always better.
  5. Frost cupcakes, making sure to cover the hole in the top. Dust with extra kinako.


  1. these look very interesting; I love matcha and red bean paste, so I will give them a try.

  2. Hey there may I know if I wanna make it in a cake form. Should I used 8" or 9"? This seems very promising. Thank you in advance for this wonderful recipe.

    1. Not sure. It's been a long time since I've made this recipe and I've never done it as a full cake. I would say make 8 inch the first time, and if you have extra you can always make a half dozen cupcakes. Always better to go smaller the first time.

  3. Question: you have eggs listed in this recipe, but you never use them. When do you add the eggs?


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