“CHOCOLATE cream pie is such an American thing,” said pastry chef Mikiko Yui. Growing up in Japan, she never tried the dessert. Yet she moves a little over a thousand slices of her version each month at Stonemill Matcha in San Francisco.

“I started my pastry-chef career here but my background is Japanese, so what I do is always a combination,” said Ms. Yui of her cross-cultural approach. Her interpretation of the dessert possesses a superlative lightness and an intriguing interplay of elements. The white-chocolate filling gets its pretty pale-green color and a decidedly grown-up savory note from matcha. “American desserts can be heavy,” she said. “Matcha cuts a lot of fattiness, making it so you can finish the whole thing. It also gives a little bit of umami, providing depth and another dimension of flavor.”

“ ‘White chocolate gives the filling a velvety texture.’ ”

Pastry chef Mikiko Yui of Stonemill Matcha in San Francisco, Calif.  Photo: Celeste Noche for The Wall Street Journal
When Stonemill Matcha opened last year, Ms. Yui took inspiration from the restaurant previously in that space, Bar Tartine, and its sister business, Tartine Bakery—specifically Tartine’s popular banana cream pie. “The pastry cream wasn’t super sweet. It was well-balanced. The pie shell wasn’t soggy but perfectly flaky,” Ms. Yui recalled.

Pastry flour, lower in protein than the all-purpose variety, helps give her crust the tenderness and flake she’s looking for. Orange zest adds a welcome spark to the whipped-cream topping. Ms. Yui noted that white chocolate gives the filling, essentially a classic crème anglaise, a velvety texture as well as a subtler flavor. “I tried other chocolates, but white chocolate does the job and doesn’t overpower the matcha at all,” she said.

Not remotely cloying and far from one-dimensional, Ms. Yui’s chocolate cream pie suits a range of dining occasions. “It can be anything, breakfast or an afternoon dessert,” she said. “You can even eat it before you go to bed.” I can only imagine the ensuing dreams would be sweet—but not too sweet.

Photo: Celeste Noche for The Wall Street Journal Matcha Cream Pie
TOTAL TIME: 15 hours (includes chilling dough) MAKES: 1 (9-inch) pie

For the dough:

1¾ cups plus 1 tablespoon pastry flour, plus more for dusting

1 teaspoon kosher salt

¼ teaspoon baking powder

5 tablespoons chilled butter, cut into ¼-inch pieces

8 tablespoons ice water combined with ½ tablespoon cider vinegar

For filling and assembly:

1 (3 gram) sheet gelatin

3½ cups whole milk

2½ cups heavy whipping cream

2 tablespoons granulated sugar

5 large egg yolks

1¼ cup chopped white chocolate

¼ teaspoon kosher salt

4 teaspoons matcha powder

1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest

1. Make crust: In a food processor, combine flour, salt and baking powder. Pulse to combine. Add half the butter and pulse several times. Add remaining butter and pulse until pieces are pea-size, 6-8 times. Drizzle in ice water-vinegar mixture, pulsing until dough begins to come together. (You may not use all the ice water-vinegar.)

2. Transfer dough to a work surface and gather into a mound. Gently pat into a disc and sprinkle with flour. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate a minimum of two hours.

3. Let dough disk sit at room temperature to soften slightly, 5 minutes. Lightly flour work surface and place dough in center. Roll out to a circle 12 inches in diameter. Transfer dough to a 9-inch pie dish, gently pressing into dish. Trim dough, leaving a ½ -inch overhang. Fold overhang in toward center, creating a raised edge. Use a fork to crimp edge. Or, use your fingers to flute edge. Freeze pie shell at least 30 minutes

4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Tear off a square of aluminum foil or parchment paper slightly larger than pie shell, gently fit into frozen shell and fill with dried beans or rice, all the way up to crimped edge. Bake until golden, about 75 minutes. Cool completely before filling, about 2 hours.

5. Make filling: Fill a small bowl with ice water. Add gelatin and let soften 5 minutes. Remove gelatin and gently wring to remove excess water. Set aside.

6. In a medium pot over medium-high heat, combine milk, 1 cup cream and half the sugar. Bring to a boil, then turn off heat. Meanwhile, whisk egg yolks and remaining sugar in a bowl until very smooth. Slowly add a quarter of cream mixture to egg yolks, whisking continuously. Transfer tempered egg-cream mixture back to pot with cream mixture and attach an instant-read thermometer. Stir over low heat until thermometer reads 183 degrees, about 4 minutes.

7. Remove egg-cream mixture from heat and transfer to a bowl. Add softened gelatin, chocolate, salt and matcha. Use a blender to blend until smooth. Pass mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into prepared pie shell. Refrigerate uncovered 8 hours.

8. Before serving, use an electric mixer to beat remaining cream to medium peaks. Fold in orange zest. Spoon whipped cream over pie, swirling decoratively.