Spring means gardening when I’m in the country, but in the city it means spring cleaning. I open a closet, a few items look out of place, I rearrange them, something falls off the shelf, and then I’m pulling down everything to completely rearrange the layout. It’s probably a mild case of OCD, but at least I don’t clean each grape with paper towel like Emma on Glee. Good or bad, this ritual makes me feel better after reorganizing.
Spring cleaning means more than just reorganizing your closet or your home—it’s also a way to get rid of stagnant items that haven’t been use for a long time. Just donate what you can to charity that will make good use of redistributing your things.
Of course, when it comes to my pantry, clutter and hording are much more acceptable. Unless food items have passed the expiration date, I’ll race to use them up . . . if I know about them, that is. I recently discovered my mystery supplies of matcha (green tea powder). It turned out that I have a few different batches in multiple locations. (Expect too see more matcha recipes in the near future.)
This is probably M’s influence, since he loves black tea and is always buying new types to sample. I compulsively purchase matcha at every tea shop we encounter. Though the powder doesn’t have an expiration date, but green tea in general doesn’t retain its potency as longs as black tea. Once you expose the matcha powder to light and air it quickly starts to oxidize. The color darkens, and the flavor gets earthier, less vibrant. Stored properly, it’s got a shelf life of up to a year.
Combining two complimentary flavors of matcha—almonds and white chocolate—these Whatmatchacallit Bars are full of sweet harvest-like notes with a cakey creamy texture. Matcha might be a tea powder, but when it’s combined with butter/dairy, it takes on a whole new dimension.
Makes 9 large or 36 bite-size squares
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pan
1 cup all-purpose flour (5 ounces)
2/3 cup almond flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon table salt
1 cup packed light-brown sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
1/3 cup white chocolate chips
6 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons matcha powder
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1. Position baking rack in center position and preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line an 8-inch square baking pan with parchment, allowing a 2-inch overhang. Butter lining; set aside.
2. Whisk together all-purpose flour, almond flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl, set aside.
3. Put butter and brown sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment; mix on medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add eggs and extracts; mix until combined. Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture, mix, scraping down sides of bowl, until well combined. Fold in white chocolate chips until evenly distributed. Transfer to a large bowl.
4. Put cream cheese, granulated sugar, butter, all-purpose flour, matcha powder, egg, and extract into the now empty bowl of stand mixer (no need to clean) fitted with the paddle attachment; beat on medium speed until fully incorporated.
5. Pour half of batter into prepared pan, and spread evenly with an offset spatula. Spoon 3/4 of matcha cream mixture on top, and spread evenly. Pour remaining batter on top and spread slightly. Top with dollops of remaining matcha cream, about 1 inch apart. Run a knife through layers to create swirl pattern.
6. Bake until golden brown and a cake tester inserted into center comes out with a few crumbs but is not wet, 45-55 minutes. Cool bars in pan on wire rack for 15 minutes, lift bars from pan and cool completely on a wire rack before cutting into squares.