Friday 14 December 2007


delicate green tea christmas trees

Here's the latest addition that I will include in my Christmas Cookie Boxes.

Last Christmas, I made beautiful Green Tea Shortbread Trees using a shortbread recipe with matcha. The cookie was delicate and a lovely shade of green. This particular recipe was for green tea lovers only as the matcha flavour was quite strong. The leafy chloryphyl flavour came through and was almost too bitter for non-green tea lovers. Perhaps the fact that it called for the lower grade Chinese powdered green tea could account for the bitterness. I shall have to test the recipe with a higher grade ceremonial tea I used with this year's recipe.

a forest of matcha trees straight out of the oven

This year, I was inspired by a new recipe in a foodblog by Foodbeam who in turn got the recipe from Lovescool. I noticed Lovescool's recipe was enriched with egg yolks whereas my previous shortbread recipe was more traditional. What convinced me that these would be stupendous was the fact that they were tossed in granulated sugar which made them sparkle in a Christmasy sort of way.

vanilla sugar adds a flavourful sparkle to the matcha christmas trees

I adapted the recipe and tossed the cookies in vanilla sugar, which added a nice dimension to the flavour profile and I think this also enhanced the matcha flavours. The cookie has a delicate crumb and breaks easily. This particular recipe creates a cookie with a sublime matcha flavour. It is not too bitter and the sugar coating provides a nice granular crunch.

I love my Christmas tree cutter, but it creates corners that are particularly difficult to dislodge, even with heavy dusting with flour before each cut. I discovered that using the tip of Bebe's kiddie-sized plastic chopsticks were quite efficient at poking the tree branches free of the cutter. Of course, I imagine any chopstick would do. It is important to refrigerate the cookies on the cookie sheet after tossing them in vanilla sugar. This ensures sharp corners and crisp edges. Without doing this, your cookie won't have a sharp profile.

matcha christmas trees packaged for sharing in a chinese take-out container

Sparkly Green Tea Christmas Trees
adapted from Green Tea Sweets by Lovescool

Yield (2” leaf shape): Approx 25

3/4 cup (2.25 oz) Confectioners sugar
5 oz Unsalted butter, cut into cubes
1 3/4 cup (8.5 oz) All-purpose flour
3 Large egg yolks
1.5 TBS Matcha (powdered green tea) *see note
1 cup vanilla sugar (for coating)

*N.B.: I used ceremonial grade Do organic matcha that I bought at Capers. This particular matcha is a bright green--the brighter the colour, the higher the quality of green tea it is. It also tends to be less bitter.
  • Preheat the oven to 350F.
  • Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.
  • Whisk the confectioner’s sugar and green tea together in a bowl.
  • Add the butter and green tea/sugar mixture to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix until smooth and light in color.
  • Add the flour and mix until well combined.
  • Add the egg yolks and mix just until the eggs are fully incorporated and a mass forms.
  • Form the dough into a disk and chill in the refrigerator until firm (about 30 minutes).
  • Roll the dough out to ½” thickness.
  • Cut the dough with a Christmas Tree cookie cutter.
  • Toss each cut cookie in a bowl of vanilla sugar to coat.
  • Refrigerate cookies for 30 minutes (or until firm) to ensure crisp edges to the cookies
  • Place the sugar-coated cookie on a parchment lined pan. Bake at 350F for 12-15 minutes, or until slightly golden around the edges.


SteamyKitchen said...

great idea to use green tea!

Anonymous said...

Those are just beautiful.

Cakebrain said...

Thanks Jaden, I'm hoping that green tea will be my fountain of youth! I drink it all the time and ingest it in all forms!

Thanks Ann--and your snowflakes are gorgeous too...those will be my next post. Hopefully I won't be cursing while making them because they do look really fragile.

Patricia Scarpin said...

I'd be smiling from ear to ear if I received such a beautiful, not to mention delicious, gift!

Cakebrain said...

It's nice to hear that people appreciate homemade gifts, isn't it? I have to admit, baking Christmas Cookie Boxes is WAY MORE HARD WORK (i.e. time-consuming) than going to a store to buy presents or gift cards. I hope it'll be worth it though. I'm always left wondering at the end whether or not I should have bought Starbucks gift cards instead! I mean, do "regular" (non-foodie) people like these Christmas Cookie Boxes? Honestly? I wonder. If they're not preoccupied with the zen of baking like us, do they appreciate it? Well, I mustn't dwell on such non-Christmassy thoughts, should I? 'Tis the season and I'm sure no one, not even a Grinch, would reject a homemade Christmas Cookie offering :)


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