Green tea shortbreads are something I usually make in the fall ever since I did a fundraiser with them in my sophomore year in college for the Taiwanese club. The combination of bitter, floral matcha against a sweet, buttery cookie is so pleasant and fun, and gives a similarly enjoyable experience to eating green tea ice cream, but in cookie form! I wanted to make another take on matcha shortbreads but this time, I went with confectioner’s sugar for this recipe, because confectioner’s/powdered sugar creates a softer textured cookie, as opposed to cookies made with brown or granulated sugar, which will be a lot crispier. This is because the sugar granules are a lot finer in confectioner’s sugar, so when a cookie bakes, there are much finer air bubbles forming as the sugar melts, that is if it melts at all, resulting in a softer, more uniform texture. Whereas with large pockets of sugar from the granulated, when you bake off the dough, those larger granules of sugar will expand, brown, and the edges that are exposed to more direct heat will get crunchy and almost caramelized, while the texture of the cookie then becomes crispier and crunchier. Because I wanted less browning, which would mar and potentially oxidize the green color of the matcha cookie dough, I made sure to use the confectioner’s sugar instead. I also counteracted a bit of that oxidation by using green spirulina powder, which helps lock in the green color of the matcha and acts as a salt substitute. The end result were cookies that were very uniform in color and texture!
Now for the shape of these cookies. I purchased the mooncake presses to make snow skin mooncakes with, but outside of that small window where you actually make mooncakes in the year, those mooncake presses become essentially useless. With this recipe, I wanted to show how you can use those for more than just mooncakes, and in this case, you can use mooncake presses instead of both rolling pins and cookie cutters! Since the press not only flattens your dough, but shapes it as well, all you really need to do is portion the dough evenly and properly. In this case, I found that you can use the larger mooncake presses to make about 16 cookies, or the slightly smaller ones to make about 32 cookies! These cookies are great to eat on their own, but admittedly, they are a bit on the thicker side, so if you wanted to use these to make the sandwich cookies, I would wager that you could even split the dough in half again to make 64 sandwich-able cookies as well! For the dough itself, I went ahead and used a food processor to make them, just because it brings the dough together a lot faster than by doing it by hand – you can mix the dough by hand as well, but it would be an 8-minute process versus a 2-minute process. I did use almond flour in my dough, just to give it a more robust finish(I was inspired by how Honolulu Cookie Company uses ground macadamia nuts in their shortbread dough), although you can totally substitute out the almond flour with oat flour or even coconut flour in case of an allergy!
For the matcha cookie dough:
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling
1/4 cup almond flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
2 tsp ceremonial matcha powder
1/4 tsp green spirulina powder*
1/4 cup confectioner’s sugar
1 stick unsalted butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
In a food processor, blend the flours, baking powder, matcha, green spirulina powder, and sugar together first. Then add to that the butter, pulsing it into the flour until a fine powder forms. In a small bowl, beat together the egg with vanilla extract. Slowly mix that into the powder to create your cookie dough. Refrigerate the dough for at least 20 minutes, covered. You want the dough to be firm, but still somewhat pliable.
On a floured surface, divide the dough into 32 pieces, dusting each piece with a light coating of flour. Press the dough balls in your mooncake press to form your cookies. I used the smaller mold that was roughly 5cm in diameter for shaping my cookies with. Arrange the cookies on a lined sheet tray, spacing them about 1 inch apart from one another.
Bake at 325 degrees F for 12 minutes. If you are baking 16 cookies made with the larger mooncake molds, bake for the same temperature but for 18 minutes.
For making the 64 sandwich cookies, 325 degrees F for 10 minutes will work. Allow the cookies to fully cool before storing in an airtight container.