Matcha Cookies Four Ways


Duo: Honey I just blew half the food budget on matcha powder. Bai!
David: You motherfucker! *shakes fist*

David and I are in charge of the food for the Our Fair City Season Six Launch Party. It was shortly before our third design meeting, and the menu was falling into place. We had already showcased the majority of what we wanted to serve at the 2nd design meeting, but the general consensus was that, while the daifuku I presented was great, we should really have something available for people who are not as adventurous when it comes to food.

I had my mind settled on cookies. Green cookies. Unwilling to use food coloring unless I absolutely have to, I opted to make matcha (green tea) cookies, which are naturally green. I did some napkin math and arrived at a ratio of approximately 1 tablespoon of matcha powder per cup of flour used, and I thought it would be a pretty reasonable investment.

As it turned out, matcha powder was about $6 per ounce. In comparison, radishes, which are prominently featured in two of our dishes, ran about $0.69 per pound

Mother. Fucker.

I was entirely too stubborn to retract my idea, however, so I plowed on. Somewhere along the way, I thought: you know, this shit is expensive, so I’m going to try to make the best fucking matcha cookies ever. Luckily, my wonderful downstairs neighbor Mark gave me another 4 ounces of matcha powder for free, so I had the resources to experiment.

Take One: Shortbread

I have made shortbread style matcha cookies previously, so that’s where I started. I went with Smitten Kitchen’s recipe because I wanted the matcha to shine through:

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons matcha powder
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon almond extract

Whisk dry ingredients together.
Cream butter. Add almond extract.
Combine dry ingredients and butter.
Divided into discs and chill for 2 hours.
Roll out and cut.
Bake at 325ºF for 15 minutes.

This recipe made me remember why I hate shortbread recipes, especially in the winter. Since there are no binders beside the butter, shortbread recipes are the poster children for mass measurements over volume measurements. The butter never fully softened (my fault), so the fat had a hard time wetting the dry ingredients. After initial mixing, the ingredients took the form of slightly wet green sand, and I had to knead the dough together with my hand in order to melt the butter and get the dough into cohesive clumps. Despite my best efforts, the dough still had a tendency to crumble when I tried to roll it out. Luckily, handling it wasn’t a complete disaster.

“The green tea is lost on me.”
“I can’t really taste the green tea.”
“I like the almond flavor.”
“Texture and color are both good.”
“It’s kind of dry.”
“It should be smaller.”
“Needs less salt and more sugar.”
“The salt level is fine.”
“Can you just use green food coloring?”

For the launch party, I guess that would make more sense. I think I’ll just make a bunch of green sugar cookies: easy to handle, easy to recognize, relatively inexpensive, and hard to turn down.

But we’re not done here. This post is about matcha cookies.

Take Two: Modified Shortbread

I upped the sugar, added almonds in place of almond extract, and made sure to soften the butter this time around (first thermally, then mechanically with my trusty Slovenian tenderizer) based on this recipe.

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons matcha powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1 cup powdered sugar
2/3 cup chopped sliced almonds.

Mix flour, matcha powder, and salt.
Cream butter and sugar.
Add dry ingredients to butter+sugar. Mix to combine.
Stir in almonds.
Roll into logs. Chill for 1 hour.
Cut logs into slices.
Bake at 325ºF for 15 minutes.

After making this cookie, I was convinced that a cold kitchen and shortbread recipes simply do not mix. The dough was even more crumbly than the one produced by the previous recipe, and it took monumental effort to shape the logs. It was impossible to make the logs perfectly circular, so the cookies were shaped like rectangles with rounded edges. Oh, by the way, don’t even think of rolling out this dough, because it’ll explode into a thousand pieces, punch you in the face, and drink your tears while giving you the finger.

“It’s so buttery.”
“This one is my favorite.”
“I like the almonds.”

At least people seemed to like it, but I’m going to save this one for the summer, when butter stays softened and the kitchen doesn’t feel like a walk-in freezer.

Take Three: The Chewy Kind

Ali, who helped me with come up with the idea of making multiple versions of matcha cookies, had the following suggestions for her ideal cookies:

a little fluffy, so not thin, but soft and chewy.

Taking Ali’s suggestions into consideration, this one is an original recipe, or as close to one as cookie recipes go.

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons matcha powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1.5 sticks (12 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted
1 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup white granulated sugar
1 egg + 1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup candied ginger nibs or candied ginger, cut into small pieces

Combine flour, matcha powder, baking soda, and salt.
Melt butter. Let it cool slightly, then mix thoroughly with brown sugar and white granulated sugar.
Add egg, egg yolk, and vanilla extract to butter-sugar mixture. Stir to combine.
Beat dry ingredients into wet ingredients.
Stir in ginger nibs.
Roll dough into balls.
Bake at 325ºF for 18 minutes.

Now this is more like it! The dough was easy to handle, the ginger nibs complemented the matcha flavor well, and the cookie was chewy and remained chewy for up to two weeks (had to save some for Ali).

“Oh my god.”
“Great mouth feel; chewiness was excellent.”
“Sweetness was on point.”
“Green tea flavor was good.”

This is by far my favorite matcha cookie recipe, and I will be bringing these to A Month Of, my storytelling show, tomorrow. The current batch contains some slightly burned cookies because I found a hot spot in my oven, but you will probably like it anyways.

Take Four: Vegan

I have a few friends who expressed interest in a vegan variation, so I made one based on this recipe.

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons matcha powder
1.5 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 stick vegan shortening (Earth Balance), softened
2/3 cup white granulated sugar
2–4 tablespoons apple sauce
2 tablespoons toasted black sesame seeds.

Make your own apple sauce, because half the stuff you’ll find in grocery stores are not vegan and you can use the leftovers for latkes!

Peel and core, like, some apples. I had 3.5 pounds. 
Place apples in saucepan. Add enough water to submerge apples. Heat to a boil. Reduce to medium and continue to boil for 35 to 40 minutes.
Add sugar to taste. I added 1/4 cup of white granulated sugar because I used Fuji apples, which are pretty sweet to begin with.
Blend until smooth.

Combine flour, matcha powder, baking powder, and salt.
Cream vegan shortening and sugar until smooth.
Add dry mix to sugar-shortening mixture.
Add apple sauce tablespoon by tablespoon until a dough is formed. 3 tablespoons worked well for me, but your mileage may vary.
Stir in sesame seeds.
Roll dough into balls.
Bake at 375ºF for 15 minutes.

This was my first time making vegan cookies, and I was happy with how it turned out. I wasn’t able to taste the apple sauce at all. The cookie was soft: not chewy like the previous recipe, but also not a gag-inducing puck of dryness. The sesame provided a nice texture contrast.

“This is vegan?”
“I like the sesames.”
“It reminds me of a Japanese tea ceremony.”


Success! Come eat cookies and tell stories with me. Bai!

Permanent link to this article: https://storyluck.org/matcha-cookies-four-ways/

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