Today we have a Special Edition for The Heritage Cook. This year I joined in the fun of the 2nd Annual International Blogger Holiday Cookie Recipe Exchange! Organized by the incomparable Lori of www.fakefoodfree.com and Andrea of www.foodembrace.com, it is a great way to share some of the holiday spirit with food bloggers around the world.
All the participants were asked to send a favorite cookie recipe to an assigned blogger, make the recipe sent to us from a different blogger, then photograph and write about it. Gee, that was a tough decision to make … should I participate in making a delicious new recipe and then post about it? YESSIREE!
I sent my recipe to Nate of www.houseofannie.com and hope he loves them as much as I do. And I was the lucky recipient of a delightful recipe from Carol of www.openmouthinsertcookie.blogspot.com! Carol lives in New York City and loves to bake. She had so many favorite recipes that she had a bit of trouble settling on which one to send, but finally decided on her (soon to be infamous) Green Tea Shortbread cookies. They are so good and unusual that they landed her a radio spot with Ruth Reichl in a discussion of holiday cookie traditions!
When the recipe arrived, I shared it with The Artist and he went ballistic. You see, he LOVES green tea and green tea cookies. Who knew? I was thrilled at his excitement and knew we had a winner on our hands. Carol has worked on the recipe, tweaking it to suit her taste, which means it has been tested until it is foolproof – my favorite kind!
Matcha is finely milled shade-grown green tea leaves, commonly used in traditional Japanese tea ceremonies. Before harvesting the tea bushes are covered, preventing the direct sunlight to hit them, turning the leaves a darker green and producing a sweeter tea. Matcha is often used in mochi, soba noodles, green tea ice cream, and a favorite Japanese confection called wagashi. This is a special product and not the same as “tea powder” or “green tea powder” – look for “Matcha” on the label. I found mine at Whole Foods.
These cookies are delicate little bites of heaven. A lovely pale green color, they are a festive addition to your holiday cookie platter. You can top them with white sesame seeds, coarse sugar, or Sparkling White Sugar (available from King Arthur Flour). Or try a combination of all of the above. You can never have too much sugar, LOL.
With just five ingredients it can’t get any simpler. But this is where it becomes paramount that you use the highest quality ingredients you can find and afford. I highly recommend using a European-style butter (such as Plugra) or other high-butterfat brand. And for consistency in all of your baked goods you should always use cane sugar, not beet sugar and here’s the reason: sugar cane grows above the ground but beets are root vegetables. No matter how hard they try, they cannot remove all the impurities (dirt particles, etc.) from the beet sugar. These particulates can wreak havoc in your baking, prompting the same recipe to turn out differently each time you make it.
Please visit Fake Food Free and Food Embrace during the week of December 12th when they will be featuring all the recipes from the exchange. I can’t wait to see everything that was made, discover a bunch of new recipes to try, and share in this food blogging community holiday celebration!
Happy Holidays to you and yours!
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 2 tbsp good quality green tea powder (Matcha) or you can grind
- 2 tbsp of whole green tea leaves in a (clean!) coffee grinder
- 1/2 cup super-fine sugar (or 1/2 cup of granulated sugar, pulsed
- for 5 to 10 seconds in a food processor)
- 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
- 1/2 lb (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- Coarse raw sugar, such as turbinado, for coating (optional)
- White sesame seeds, toasted (optional)
- Sift flour and green tea into a bowl; set aside. You can pass them through a wire sieve or whisk together.
- Beat the butter until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add in the sugar and salt and continue to beat until well combined and paler in color, another 2 minutes. Add the flour and green tea mixture and mix just until everything is combined and the dough sticks together; don't overmix or you'll have tough cookies.
- Form the dough into a flat disk, wrap in plastic, and chill for an hour. This allows the flour to fully absorb moisture from the butter creating a more cohesive dough. It also gives any gluten you have created during the mixing process the chance to relax, resulting in a more tender cookie.
- Preheat oven to 325°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper; set aside. Remove dough from refrigerator and let warm up for about 30 minutes or until it is soft enough to roll out easily.
- Roll the dough out on a lightly floured surface to 1/4" and cut into shapes. You can use cookie cutters or cut the dough into squares, diamonds, or rectangles. If you want to add a decorative touch, sprinkle the top of your cookies with coarse sugar. This will give them a little sparkle (more if you use white edible glitter) and a nice sweet crunchy topping.If you want to use sesame seeds, place your cookies on the baking sheet, brush the tops with a bit of water, and sprinkle them over the cookies. (I personally liked the ones with the turbinado sugar the best, but I tried them all, LOL!)
- Place on prepared cookie sheet and chill until the cookies are firm (15 minutes or so) if your kitchen is really warm.
- Bake for about 10 minutes until the cookies are set; make sure you bake them long enough to cook out the raw taste of the flour. They will be just starting to show color at the edges. This took about 12 minutes in my oven. Repeat with the remaining dough. Store them at room temperature in an airtight container for up to a week.
- Yield: 2 to 3 dozen cookies