This matcha dessert was inspired by Japan’s favorite street food, takoyaki. If you’re a lover of all things green tea-flavored like I am, you’re gonna want to bite into these matcha-infused morsels. The best part is they’re healthy and easy to make!
It was my ex-girlfriend’s idea to create a recipe for healthy takoyaki. She always gave me good ideas.
A couple of hours later, her dad dropped off their takoyaki maker at my apartment and I got to work.
I started out with the idea of creating a gluten-free, low-carb version of the original takoyaki– savory and umami.
Feeling overwhelmed by the idea of creating healthy versions of mayonnaise and takoyaki sauce from scratch, I decided to start simple.
That meant changing concepts.
Replacing the sprinkles of seaweed with matcha powder and savory brown takoyaki sauce with melted dark chocolate, I adapted her idea into a healthy matcha dessert.
Later on, I went back to recreate the original recipe for takoyaki to make it healthy. You can find that one here.
It would be easy to prepare both versions at once, which I recommend if you’re throwing a “takoyaki party” at home.
When I was living in Sapporo, I taught both recipes at my takoyaki cooking class–
They were both a hit!
Did you really say these matcha dessert takoyaki were healthy and gluten-free?
Yup. I did.
And there’s no added sugar except for the tiny amount in the droplets of melted chocolate (optional).
They aren’t just healthy–they’re really healthy.
Are you ready to take a bite and taste what’s inside?
If you’re still busy licking the drips of warm chocolate in your imagination, I can wait…
What are takoyaki?
If you asked someone in Japan what comes to mind when you imagine a healthy Japanese snack…
9 out of 9 people wouldn’t say ‘takoyaki’.
If you’d ask those same nine people what typical Japanese snack goes really well with a cold draft beer or whisky highball…
I’d bet 8 out of 9 of them would say ‘takoyaki’.
I was in Osaka, the city where takoyaki originated, a few months ago.
Osaka is famous for its street food: okonomiyaki, deep-fried kushikatsu, and takoyaki. It’s all delicious, but it’s not exactly health food.
Walking down one of the main shopping streets in Dotonbori, I was surprised to see locals drinking beer at izakaya that were open at 10 in the morning!
Takoyaki are ball-shaped snacks that are cooked in a special pan with round molds about the size of golfballs. Batter is poured into each round mold. Once half of the ball is cooked, poking sticks are used to quickly turn each ball and push in the undercooked batter until a ball shape is formed.
Originally, the batter for takoyaki is wheat flour-based. Each batter-filled mold is topped with small chunks of tako (octopus). Literally, tako-yaki means octopus that’s yaki-ed (grilled).
I love octopus, but I can understand why many Westerners get a bit weirded out by the chewy texture and those sucker cups on their tentacles. Ewe!
My new healthy matcha dessert recipe is for “no tako” takoyaki.
As you figured, um, matcha and chunks of raw octopus don’t really go together.
I had to replace the tako with something else.
Takoyaki ingredients– the original fillings and condiments (savory)
In addition to the minced or diced octopus, the original recipe for takoyaki calls for negi (green onion), tenkasu (tempura “scraps”), and beni shoga (red pickled ginger).
After they’re cooked, the balls are brushed with takoyaki sauce, which is similar to Worcestershire sauce, decorated with thin, white zig-zag lines of mayonnaise, and sprinkled with green nori flakes (seaweed) and katsuo-bushi (dried bonito flakes).
I know to a Westerner, it sounds like some strange recipe for seafood-flavored cupcakes, but there’s a reason why takoyaki became so popular all around Japan.
Who wouldn’t want to try “octopus balls”!?
I promise you, takoyaki taste way better than they sound.
I think it’s safe to classify takoyaki as “Japanese junk food”, but the matcha dessert recipe I’m going to share with you is the opposite of junk…
A not-too-sweet matcha dessert that’s a superfood!
What fillings are inside these matcha dessert takoyaki? (sweet)
I choose banana for the filling. The mild sweetness complements the subtle bitterness of matcha. Banana also goes with chocolate. It reminds me of eating “banana split” ice cream sundaes growing up in Wisconsin and those chocolate-covered bananas you always find at summertime festivals in Japan.
Inspired by the small scraps of cooked tempura batter that go into regular takoyaki, I decided to add some crushed macadamia nuts for some crunch (optional).
I know I’m biased towards banana. If you’d prefer a different fruit, blueberries would be my next choice. I’d be curious to try mixed berries too: blueberry + cranberry would probably be pretty awesome.
Of course, azuki red bean paste is the obvious best match for green tea if your intent is to make a sweet dessert rather than a healthy snack. Azuki bean filling contains quite a bit of sugar; it also tends to be an acquired taste for many Westerners’ palates.
And if you’re not a fan of matcha, and still reading this far, thank you! Why not try cacao powder, tea leaves, or coffee flavor instead?
Tips to make Perfect Matcha Dessert Takoyaki:
1. If it’s your first time making takoyaki, I recommend cooking 3 or 4 balls at a time rather than using all the batter at once. Flipping takoyaki takes some practice.
2. Use plenty of oil. Make sure all the round molds and the top surface is covered with coconut oil so the takoyaki don’t stick and are easy to turn. The coconut oil also adds a richness in flavor.
3. Flipping takoyaki is possible with a fork or chopsticks, but I highly recommend buying one or a pair of takoyaki picks. They just make flipping a whole lot easier.
4. To know if your takoyaki are ready to turn, you’ll see the outer crust starting to cook into a thin layer of cake. Stick a takoyaki pick all the way in– it will turn with very little nudging if the batter is cooked.
5. If you’re using an electric takoyaki maker, I recommend turning the heat on and off to maintain a lower cooking temperature to prevent the coconut oil from smoking.
6. Each hole won’t always heat up to the exact same temperature so you may want to switch around the takoyaki once they’re in ball shape so they brown evenly.
7. The filling is the tricky part. At first, I wouldn’t be too concerned about making Instagram-perfect balls. I rather have ugly takoyaki with too much filling than perfectly shaped takoyaki with not enough filling that taste bland and dry.
A general rule for getting your takoyaki to turn out right: Fail your way to success! You can always eat your mistakes in the kitchen. 😉