A nearby tea shop was having a sale on matcha (green tea powder) so I bought a 100 gram container to try for baking. I figured that if I didn't like baking with it then I would just chalk the whole thing up to experience (it only cost $8). Matcha may not be everybody's cup of tea (yes, pun intended). It could be too bitter for some or too earthy for others. But if you love green tea ice cream, then chances are you'll love matcha in baked goods too.
I've seen the matcha shortbread (aka green tea sweets) that's been making its way around the blogosphere and I had originally planned to use my newly purchased matcha for that purpose. But at the last minute I decided to go a different route for my first foray into matcha territory. I modified a pinwheel cookie recipe from Fine Cooking magazine #68. Instead of dark chocolate I used matcha and white chocolate. I kept the vanilla dough pretty much the same.
The resulting cookie is very much like a typical sugar cookie. It's sweet, buttery and slightly crisp. I would've called it child friendly if not for the green tea (unless your child, like my nephews, actually likes matcha).The white chocolate tempered the bitter edge of the matcha without masking the flavor of the matcha. The vanilla and matcha doughs work very well together both flavorwise as well as aesthetically. The grassy green and creamy yellow reminds me that spring is just around the corner.
As you can see from the pictures my vanilla layer is a bit thicker than my matcha layer. I decided not to stress about it and roll it up anyway. Since the recipe makes 9 dozen cookies, I decided not to do all pinwheels. I also made some randomly blended, quasi-marbled ones and some solid matcha cookies with a bit of coarse sugar on the edges. That way everyone could choose their ideal ratio of vanilla to matcha.
Matcha Sugar Cookies
(makes about 9 dozen cookies)
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
10 ounces (2 1/2 sticks / 1 1/4 cups) unsalted butter, softened at room temp
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 tbsp matcha (green tea powder)
2 tbsp powdered sugar
3 ounces high quality white chocolate, melted and still barely warm
Sift together flour, salt and baking soda. Set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream butter and granulated sugar until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Add egg and egg yolk and vanilla extract; mix until well combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary.
Add flour mixture and, on low speed, mix until just combined. Remove 2 cups of the dough and set aside. This is the vanilla dough.
On low speed, add the matcha and powdered sugar to the remaining dough in the stand mixer bowl and mix until just combined. Then mix in the melted white chocolate until well combined.
Divide each flavor of dough into three fairly equal pieces. (You should have 6 pieces: 3 matcha and 3 vanilla.) Wrap each piece in plastic and refrigerate for about 20-30 minutes.
Roll one piece of matcha dough into a 7x7 inch square. Roll one piece of vanilla dough into a 7x7 inch square. Trying to line up the edges as best as you can, place the vanilla dough on top of the matcha dough. Gently roll over the dough to seal the two layers together.
Roll your layered dough into a tight log. After the log is formed, gently roll it back and forth on the counter to slightly elongate and compact it. The log should be about 9 inches long and about 1.5 inches in diameter. Wrap the log in plastic wrap. Repeat with the other pieces of dough. Refrigerate dough logs for 2 hours or freeze up to 2 months.
Preheat oven to 350F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.
Working with one log at a time, slice the dough into 1/4 inch thick rounds and place rounds on your prepared baking sheets (space them about 1 inch apart). Bake at 350F for 12-14 minutes or until the tops of the cookies look set. Cool on baking sheet for 1-2 minutes then gently transfer cookies to a wire rack.