They say everyone is a little Irish on St. Patrick’s Day, and I think this year I’ll get my bit of green from these Matcha Chocolate Cashews. Sweet and crunchy, this treat is made from three different Superfoods-chocolate, matcha powder, and heart healthy nuts. (You can learn more about matcha here) They are great when you want just a little something sweet after a meal, or a midday pick me up. They even make a good grab and go breakfast, complete with a caffeine kick from the matcha. They are great to set out with cocktails too…
I start with tempered chocolate, either chocolate disks specifically made for melting or the chocolate chunks I got from Trader Joe’s this time. Most chocolate chips have added ingredients so the chocolate keeps its shape in cookies and such. They are produced to NOT melt easily and they won’t set up (harden) properly when making these. So keep those for cookies and look for chocolate that is made for melting.
Tempering chocolate sounds so intimidating and I am no pastry chef so I try to keep it easy. In a nutshell, tempering keeps the chocolate at a temperature where the molecules stay intact and the cocoa butter doesn’t seep out. This allows the chocolate to harden at room temperature, keep a nice shiny finish, and snap if you were to break it. Chocolate that is not tempered correctly can have a dull grayish color and waxy texture. It will also not harden at room temperature.
The established technique is to melt the chocolate, often with a double boiler, and then add chunks of chocolate to cool it down and bring it to the right temperature. I find that technique too time consuming and tedious. Let’s Microwave! But before you proceed to blast the hell out of your poor chocolate, let me set up a few guidelines. You need to do this in a gentle way that will carefully melt the chocolate so there’s no need to cool it down with an addition of unmelted chocolate.
Since each microwave is different, you may need to experiment a little to get the correct power strength. But in general, adjusting to 50% power is where I would start and what I use with my own microwave. I do quick bursts and it’s not necessary to melt the chocolate. You should see the chocolate soften (some chocolate may have melted) but the microwave ends up heating the bowl so much that gentle stirring should melt all of the chocolate. Continue microwaving in short minute increments but always stir between bursts until the chocolate is completely melted. If you have a candy thermometer, it should be about 90 degrees, or warm but not scalding hot to the touch. Let the chocolate cool a bit before proceeding.
With all of that said, since the matcha will be covering the chocolate, it’s not crucial to have a perfectly tempered chocolate; no one will see any imperfections. Also, if the chocolates don’t harden, you can put them in the fridge. But you will need to store the nuts in the fridge when you’re done to keep them from melting.
Use the best matcha you can for this recipe. Since the matcha is the first thing you taste and there are few other flavors in this quick little recipe, you want a high quality. Lower quality matcha can have a really bitter taste, sometimes even an off flavor, plus an unappetizing color. The best choice is matcha meant for drinking, or a very high grade culinary one. A tablespoon might not seem like a lot, but because it is so finely ground that’s plenty to fully cover the cashews.
Enjoy the Matcha Chocolate Cashews as a little nibble with tea, or offer to guests as a light sweet to end a meal. I can’t wait for you to try them. Let me know what you think by commenting and rating the recipe below, and tag us in your pics @funkyasiankitchen for a chance to be featured; we love seeing your creations!
- 1 cup toasted cashews (about 5 ounces)
- 3 ounces semisweet or bittersweet dark chocolate, a generous ½ cup roughly chopped
- 1 Tablespoon matcha powder
- Maldon sea salt (optional)
- Place the chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl.
- You will be microwaving in short increments, stirring in between.
- The exact amount of time the chocolate needs to be in the microwave will depend on your particular microwave. I do it for two minutes at 50% (half) power, stir with a whisk and then microwave again for another minute at 50% power. Stir again.
- The chocolate in the bowl will not look melted but as you stir, the heat from the bowl will continue melting the chocolate.
- Mix until the chocolate is completely smooth. Add another 30 seconds to a minute if you still have some unmelted chocolate. Always stir in between bursts in the microwave.
- If you have a candy thermometer (recommended), check to see that the temperature is 90 F (for dark, semisweet, and bittersweet chocolate) or 86 F (for milk and white chocolate). If not, dip a small spoon into the chocolate and put it on your hand. It should feel slightly warm, not hot.
- Wait until the chocolate cools slightly before using it.
- Add the cashews to the chocolate and mix to coat each nut. Place the nuts one at a time (or scoop them with a small spoon if you prefer making clusters) on a piece of parchment paper and let harden at room temperature for an hour or two.
- Once the chocolate has hardened, place the cashews in a small storage container and top with the matcha powder.
- Shake the nuts so that the matcha powder coats each nut evenly.
- Eat immediately, sprinkled with a little sea salt or store the Matcha Chocolate Cashews in the container until ready to consume.
*For this method to work, you MUST start with already tempered chocolate. You can use chocolate disks, which are made specifically for melting or blocks of tempered chocolate which can be chopped into small pieces. Do not use chocolate chips which will not melt. I used semi-sweet chocolate chunks from Trader Joe’s that are made for melting and they worked well.
*If you use chocolate that’s not tempered, you will know once you try to harden it at room temperature. Your cashews may refuse to set and stay wet or set kind of soft and fudgy. You can still harden it by putting it in the refrigerator. Then continue with the recipe but store the nuts in the fridge.
Keywords: sweets, snacks, nuts, matcha, chocolate