I have always loved tea. Growing up, one of my favorite memories was having tea with my sisters and dad when he came home bearing gifts of sweets from his clients, usually around Autumn Moon festival (mooncakes!), Lunar New Year, or Christmas. It was a little tradition we had, to gather around a pot of tea with him and share the sweets. To this day, I can not have sweets without a freshly brewed pot of tea. It is my warm, comforting beverage of choice, and I could sip on it all day long.
Matcha is the only form of tea in which the entire leaf is consumed. The tea leaves are carefully tended in shade just prior to the harvest, so that the leaves are more delicate and flavorful. They are then hand picked and carefully steamed, dried, and then stone-ground into the finest powder. The Japanese tea ritual revolves around the making and tasting of matcha, ceremoniously highlighting its nuanced flavors and delicacy.
In addition to its sweet, vegetal flavor, matcha is loaded with antioxidants and vitamins. Various studies have tried to link its high catechin polyphenol content to decreased risk of certain types of cancer, lower cholesterol, improved metabolism, and improved cardiovascular health.
I indulged and used matcha to make these lovely, light Matcha Tea Cake cookies for a friend’s baby shower. With a cup of tea, they make the perfect light treat for a quiet afternoon. J has decided to dub these “Shrek cookies” because of their color, even though I think they are a pretty shade of green.
Matcha Tea Cake cookies (makes 2 dozen), recipe from Food and Wine
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom (or cinnamon)
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 2/3 cup canola oil
- 2 large eggs
- 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon pure almond extract
- 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon matcha tea powder
- 1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
- In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, salt and cardamom. In another bowl, whisk the granulated sugar, oil, eggs and vanilla and almond extracts. In a small bowl, stir 2 tablespoons of the matcha powder with 2 tablespoons of water, then stir into the wet ingredients. Stir the wet ingredients into the flour mixture just until combined.
- Using a 1-ounce ice cream scoop or 2 tablespoons, scoop 1-inch balls of dough at least 2 inches apart onto 2 baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Refrigerate for at least 20 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 350°. Bake the cookies for about 10 minutes, until set at the edges and very lightly browned on the bottoms. Let the cookies cool for 10 minutes, then transfer to a rack to cool completely.
- Arrange the cookies on 1 baking sheet. In a sieve, combine the confectioners’ sugar with the remaining 1 teaspoon of matcha. Dust over the cookies and serve.