Sometimes, you see something you really, really wish you hadn’t.

A text or a phone call, an email or a photograph, numbers on a scale or old pants, a person, a place, a thing: a reminder of days gone by.  

The kind of thing that instantly feels like a little stone in the pit of your stomach.
The feeling that makes the tips of your ears red and the ends of your fingers cold. 
That dead weight right in the middle of your body that is the exact opposite of butterflies.

You know what I’m talking about.
We’ve all been there.

It happens.  We see it.
And it sucks.  
The mildest form of it is like a buzzing gnat of regret, purely annoying and easily swattable; the worst, a punch in the gut.
It’s the things you could have gone your whole life without seeing, the ones that tug the hardest on your heartstrings or stab the deepest into the recesses of your mind, that produce the most confounding emotions (of course).
The tears that come, inevitably, are the saddest and the sweetest- and the saltiest- of all.
There are no bad memories or experiences without good ones preceding.
It’s off the good which we measure the bad.
It’s not easy to let bygones be bygones.  
However, it is true that at some point, you will be rudely reminded of an unsatisfactory or tender moment of your past, and it will hurt, and you will have to let it go; you will have to accept it for exactly what is was, and exactly what it wasn’t.
We cannot change the past, which is a sad and terrifying reality which few can easily come to terms with; the rest of us have to simply put up with our own mortal inclinations and wishes. 
Such is life.
We spend our lives wishing, hoping, working to change the past or future; we must never forget, in the instantaneous moment of the present, that our attempts may be in vain, and to appreciate the fact that that lost effort is okay.  
It’s human. 
We have to embrace the mistakes in the past and those to come, and in doing so, accept the profound emotions which accompany them.
La mélancolie et le bonheur… Les emotions douces-amères.
What you see here is a matcha cake with tangy cream cheese frosting.  
The green tea imparts just a slight herbaceous and umami quality; it’s fragrant and well offset by a sweet, sticky icing.
I made it ombré by varying the amount of tea and adding a touch of green food coloring. 
I actually grind my own matcha powder out of loose leaf in a coffee grinder.  (If you want to do the same, make sure your grinder is 100% clean by grinding some plain rice into powder in it before adding the tea.  Coffee will distort the flavor and color of the matcha.) 
The white chocolate roses that I made out of homemade modelling chocolate were just the right finishing touch, I think.  
The cake is, appropriately, aigre-doux: bittersweet.
Yeah, I saw it.  
I felt bad for a minute or two.  I might even have had a short, ugly, and relieving cry.  
Then I had a piece of cake.  And you know what?  
It was delicious.
Ombré Matcha Cake
4 ounces unsalted butter, softened
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons sugar
3 egg whites
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 ½ cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
¾ cup milk
1 scanttablespoon, 1 ½ teaspoons, and ¾ teaspoon matcha powder, divided
a tiny bit of leaf green gel food coloring
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  
Butter and flour as many 6- or 8- inch pans as you have; you will end up with four layers, so if you have 2 pans, just bake two of the layers, cool and clean the pans, and bake the second two layers.  
Cream together the butter and sugar for about 2 minutes, until very fluffy and pale yellow; beat in the vanilla and egg whites until combined.  
Whisk the dry ingredients together in a separate bowl.  
Add to the butter mixture, alternating with the milk; start and finish with the dry.  
Divide your batter in half as evenly as possible (I weigh mine out), then divide those in half, too.  
Pour one quarter of the batter into a pan as is.  
Add 1 scant tablespoon of matcha and 2 drops green food coloring to one bowl, in another, add 1 ½ teaspoons matcha plus 1 drop green food coloring, and in the third, add only ¾ teaspoon matcha.  
Stir each well, and pour into prepared pans.  
Bake for 15-17 minutes.  
Allow to cool for 15 minutes, then remove from pans and cool completely.
For the [tangy] frosting:
4 ounces sour cream (a heaping ½ cup)
8 ounces cream cheese
4 ounces butter, softened
3 cups powdered sugar, sifted
pinch salt and dash vanilla extract
Beat the butter and cream cheese together until fluffy and pale.  
Add in the sour cream, vanilla, salt, and sugar, and beat on low speed until combined.
To assemble the cake:
Torte (level) your layers if need be, then layer them, starting with the darkest.  
Don’t add too much frosting between the layers, because the ombré effect will be slightly less cool.  
Frost the outside of the cake as desired!  
[Note: this frosting is not pipeable.  Instead, go for homestyle swirls, homeboy.]

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