Matcha Kanten is a Japanese green tea jello. It uses Agar-Agar, or Kanten, as a thickener instead of the animal-based product, gelatin. I paired the Match Kanten cubes with sliced strawberries and a cheesecake parfait for a light and refreshing dessert. Instead of the cheesecake filling, you can also use vanilla ice cream like the original recipe or just plain (or flavored) yogurt sweetened with a little honey.
The cheesecake filling is only lightly sweetened. Add more honey as desired to taste. You can also use vanilla Greek yogurt and omit the vanilla extract.
Matcha (MAHT-cha) is a powder created by grinding whole green tea leaves. There are various grades of matcha. The higher quality grades are made from the fine, new leaves from the very top of the Camellia sinensis tea bush. Use the premium grades for drinking, while the lower, culinary grades are fine to use in baking. Be careful in the storing of matcha. It can become stale and brownish when exposed to oxygen. I have been able to find matcha at the local Asian food markets. It is also available on Amazon: DoMatcha DoMatcha Organic 2nd Harvest Matcha, 2.82-Ounce and less expensive: SerendipiTea Matcha Culinary Grade, Organic Green Tea, 4-Ounce Box.
Agar-Agar (Agar, Kanten) is a vegetarian substitute for gelatin and a thickener that is derived from sea vegetables. It is a popular ingredient in various East Asian desserts. It is either sold in strips or as a powder. I was able to find the powder at Whole Foods, but it is also available at Asian Food Markets specializing in Japanese foods or on Amazon: Eden Foods Agar Agar Sea Vegetable Flakes — 1 oz(I used this brand) or NOW Foods Agar Powder, Pure, 2 Ounce Bottle.
2 teaspoons matcha (green tea powder)
1 tablespoon water
450 milliliters (scant 2 cups) water
50 grams (3 1/2 tablespoons) granulated sugar
5 grams (2 1/2 tablespoons) kanten or agar-agar
8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
5 ounces Greek yogurt, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Honey to taste
1/4 cup milk
Strawberries, hulled and sliced
Line an 8×8 inch baking dish with parchment for easy removal.
In a small bowl, whisk together matcha and 1 tablespoon of the water until smooth.
In a small saucepan, combine remaining 450 milliliters (scant 2 cups) water, sugar, and agar-agar and bring to a boil. Whisk until the sugar and agar-agar have dissolved and remove from heat. Whisk in the dissolved matcha. Pour the mixture into the prepared 8×8 inch baking dish and cool to room temperature. Chill in the refrigerator for about 2 hours. Cut into ~3/4 inch cubes. Refrigerate until ready to assemble.
In a medium bowl, beat together cream cheese and yogurt until smooth. Mix in vanilla extract and honey to taste. Slowly beat in milk until creamy and smooth. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
In serving glasses, add a layer of the cream cheese mixture. Top with some matcha kanten and sliced strawberries. Top with more cream cheese, then more matcha kanten and strawberries. Serve immediately.