Going Green For The Holidays with Matcha Cream Pie

Beyond the tree and wreath, add a little more green to your holidays with this spectacular matcha cream pie.
Beyond the tree and wreath, add a little more green to your holidays with this spectacular matcha cream pie.

With a new year dawning, let’s all be brave enough to pledge to trust our gut instincts more.

I know so many friends who agonize over situations — analyzing, re-analyzing, and plain over-analyzing — before taking action, even if they know in their heart immediately what they should do.

I’ve been there many a time, myself.

Case in point: this “Matcha Cream Pie” recipe, which appeared in the Wall Street Journal in September.

It’s a recreation of the signature dessert at Stonemill Matcha in San Francisco by Pastry Chef Mikiko Yui.

It’s a dazzler, covered in a cloud of orange zest-scented whipped cream. It’s only when you cut into it that it truly reveals itself with its dramatic deep green filling made with matcha.

When I set about making it, the recipe gave me pause when it called for blind-baking the pie crust for 75 minutes at 350 degrees. Hmmm, I thought, I’ve made enough crusts in my day to think that seemed like an awfully long time to bake an unfilled crust. But I shooed off that skepticism, trusting in the recipe. After all, sometimes techniques or ingredients in recipes sound downright wacky yet come out incredible, teaching me something new in the process.

I’d like to say that was the case this time around. But unfortunately, it wasn’t. I let the crust go in the oven for 75 minutes, and in the end, it turned out so hard that it was near impossible for a fork to penetrate it when eaten.

That’s why I have since rejiggered the timing in the recipe below so that you blind-bake the crust for a more reasonable 25 minutes.

The filling needs to firm up in the fridge for at least 8 hours.
The filling needs to firm up in the fridge for at least 8 hours.

The creamy filling also calls for 1 sheet of gelatin. Knowing that most home-bakers like myself usually only have powdered gelatin around, I opted to that instead. After scouring info online — which can vary — I settled on using 1 teaspoon of powdered gelatin for the 1 sheet of gelatin.

This pie is best made the day before serving so that the filling can chill and set up in the refrigerator. The 1 teaspoon of gelatin thickened the filling enough so that the next day, the pie held together when sliced. However, the texture was like very thick whipped cream. Wanting slightly more structure, I would increase the powdered gelatin amount to 2 1/2 teaspoons (or the entire packet) when I make this again, and that’s the amount I added to the recipe.

Besides the chopped white chocolate, egg yolks, matcha, whole milk and heavy cream that go into the filling, there’s only 2 tablespoons sugar in it. As a result, this pie is surprisingly not very sweet. Instead, the grassy-bitter matcha tempers that. The matcha flavor is on full display yet it’s gentle in taste, not over-powering at all. It’s an antidote to all the over-the-top sugary sweets usually consumed at this time of year.

It makes for a unique and unexpected dessert for the holidays. And it just might give you the confidence to trust in yourself more in the new year.

A perfect addition to your holiday feast.
A perfect addition to your holiday feast.

Matcha Cream Pie

(Makes one 9-inch pie)

For the dough:

1 3/4 cups plus 1 tablespoon pastry flour, plus more for dusting

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

5 tablespoons chilled butter, cut into 1/4-inch pieces

8 tablespoons ice water combined with 1/2 tablespoon cider vinegar

For the filling and assembly:

1 (3 gram) sheet gelatin OR 2 1/2 teaspoons powdered gelatin (1 whole packet)

3 1/2 cups whole milk

2 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream

2 tablespoons granulated sugar

5 large egg yolks

1 1/4 cups chopped white chocolate

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

4 teaspoons matcha powder

1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest

Make crust: In a food processor, combine flour, salt and baking powder. Pulse to combine. Add half the butter and pulse several times. Add remaining butter and pulse until pieces are pea-size, 6 to 8 times. Drizzle in ice water-vinegar mixture, pulsing until dough begins to come together. (You may not use all the ice water-vinegar.)

Transfer dough to a work surface and gather into a mound. Gently pat into a disc and sprinkle with flour. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate at least 2 hours.

Let dough disk sit at room temperature to soften slightly, 5 minutes. Lightly flour work surface and place dough in center. Roll out to a circle 12 inches in diameter. Transfer dough to a 9-inch dish. Trim dough, leaving a 1/2-inch overhang. Fold overhang in toward center, creating a raised edge. Use a fork to crimp edge. Or use your fingers to flute edge. Freeze pie shell at least 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Tear off a square of aluminum foil or parchment paper slightly larger than pie shell, gently fit into frozen shell and fill with dried beans or rice, all the way up to crimped edge. Bake until golden, about 25 to 30 minutes. Cool completely before filling, about 2 hours.

Make filling: Fill a small bowl with ice water. Add gelatin and let soften 5 minutes. Remove gelatin and gently wring to remove excess water. Set aside. (Note: If using powdered gelatin, disregard this step.)

In a medium pot over medium-high heat, combine milk, 1 cup cream and half the sugar. Bring to a boil, then turn off heat. Meanwhile, whisk egg yolks and remaining sugar in a bowl until very smooth. Slowly add a quarter of cream mixture to egg yolks, whisking continuously. Transfer tempered egg-cream mixture back to pot with cream mixture and attach an instant-read thermometer. Stir over low heat until thermometer reads 183 degrees, about 4 minutes.

Remove egg-cream mixture from heat and transfer to a bowl. Add softened gelatin sheet. Or if using powdered gelatin, sprinkle powdered gelatin in a thin layer over the surface of the egg-cream mixture. Let sit for 30 seconds to 1 minute until gelatin looks like it has mostly dissolved into the mixture. Add chocolate, salt and matcha. Use a blender to blend until smooth. Pass mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into prepared pie shell. Refrigerate uncovered for 8 hours or overnight.

Before serving, use and electric mixer to beat remaining 1 1/2 cups heavy cream to medium peaks. Fold in orange zest. Spoon whipped cream over pie, swirling decoratively.

Adapted from Stonemill Matcha’s recipe in the Wall Street Journal, Sept. 21, 2019

More Matcha Love: Raspberry-Mochi Butter Cake with Matcha Glaze

And: Green Tea Lemon Wafers

And: Green Tea Shortbread with Poppy Seeds

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  • I’ve had problems with recipes in the _Wall Street Journal_ too. It’s been a long time since I’ve made one of theirs, but they often have problems. Anyway, glad you persevered and made this (correcting the timing, of course) — wonderful looking recipe. Thanks. And Happy Holidays!

  • John: It’s reassuring to know it wasn’t just me. LOL Thanks for the kind note. Happy holidays to you, too!

  • I’m more inclined to give this a try since you’ve already made it! I made a cranberry pie from Food Network that had cranberry powder in the crust. It called for baking the crust for 45-50 minutes. Came out burnt and I threw it out. Non-burnt part didn’t even taste good, so I probably won’t even try it with a regular crust 🙁

  • Eileen: Cranberry powder in the crust? Hmm, that definitely sounds different, and maybe an unnecessary overload on the cranberry if it’s already the filling.

  • How long will this last in the fridge? Just made it and excited to try it out ☺️

  • Hi Lucy: Yay! So glad you made it. I would say that it will easily last about 4 days. The longer it sits, the greater the likelihood that the crust will start to get soft and the whipped cream start losing its airiness. It will still be delicious, just not at its ideal texture. Enjoy! 😉

  • I ended up with a lot more filling than could fit in the pie shell. Almost enough for another small pie shell. Is that normal?
    I liked the taste – not too sweet just as you said.

  • Hi Jen: I didn’t end up with extra filling, but there is enough to definitely fill the crust completely. Glad you enjoyed the taste. It’s a nice, lighter tasting treat in contrast to so many heavy holiday ones. Happy baking!

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