03 March 2009

Get Thee to a Green Tea Shortbreadery

What is it that's so appealing about shortbread?

It's not a glamorous cookie, and I doubt it- unlike cupcakes or artisanal truffles- could ever spur a frenzy of trendy shortbread-only shops.

But its quiet, understated elegance is as stunning as that classic little black dress amid overblown silks, ruffles and sequins at a formal event. In a sea of achingly sweet, gooey and overloaded desserts, shortbread rises to the top with simplicity and purity.

The trifecta of butter, flour and sugar is complete on its own, but shortbread is a welcome canvas for bold flavors like vanilla, ginger, lavender or chocolate. Or tea, of course.

Traditional shortbread is barely sweet, and with the addition of matcha's grassy, deep flavor it's even less so. But you'll have no complaints after the first bite: the exterior of this green-tea version offers the slightest hint of resistance before the crumbly, moist cookie melts on your tongue, the granules of sugar on top yielding welcome bursts of sweet.

Green Tea Shortbread
Makes: 16 wedges or squares.

12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and still warm
5 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 tablespoon matcha
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups minus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
Turbinado or demerara sugar, for sprinkling

1. Grease a 9 1/2-inch tart pan with removable bottom, or line an 8 x 8-inch baking dish with nonstick foil.

2. In medium bowl, stir together butter, granulated sugar, matcha, vanilla and salt. Add flour and mix until just incorporated. Pat dough evenly into prepared pan and let rest at room temperature at least 2 hours, or up to overnight.

3. Position a rack in lower third of the oven and heat to 300°. Bake shortbread for 45 minutes. Remove pan from oven, leaving oven on. Lightly sprinkle the surface with turbinado sugar, and let cool 10 minutes.

4. Carefully remove shortbread from the pan. Use a thin, sharp knife to slice into wedges or squares and place pieces slightly apart on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes, until lightly toasted, then let pieces cool completely on rack.

Don't skip the extra toasting step- this step (and recipe) is adapted from Alice Medrich's Pure Dessert, and the lady knows what she's talking about: it really concentrates and highlights the buttery taste.

These tender treats are ideal served with any tea, but a Japanese green (this is an ideal time to try a delicate Uji if you never have) will open up the matcha flavor just like one of those early spring cherry blossoms.


Anonymous said...

Wow, the deep green color really jumps out at you and looks beautiful. It looks really tasty as well! :)

cindy* said...

i saw this on tastespotting...beautiful photos and perfect description of shortbread, my mouth actually started to water.

christine said...

Those photos are gorgeous. And that recipe sounds awesome. I would make it if I wasn't lazy and homeless.

Gata said...

Wow, this is actually perfect for a gathering I'm having this weekend. Thanks!

Kristen616 said...

This shortbread looks absolutely beautiful and delicious. I am definitely going to try it!

Robin said...

Those are so beautiful. The green really makes them intriguing. I love shortbread and have made it a few times but haven't in about 5 years. I think that's going to change. Gorgeous pictures!

tara said...

The fluted edge is so pretty on these and the springlike colour is a wonderful bit of brightness. Thanks for posting!

Kevin said...

Green tea short bread sounds good. Nice photos!

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Okay, this is how tired I am today. I looked at your beautiful photo, the one with the blossoms and the pot of tea and the (this is the important part here) CIRCULAR plate with the TRIANGULAR pieces of shortbread on it in the middle of the photo. And I clicked that triangle three times and couldn't figure out why the video wouldn't play.

Sigh I think I need a cookie. Shortbread sounds great.

ana dane said...

that is amazing. it sounds like something i'd do, but then i would get furious at the computer (and world) and rant about how much they're all against me.

you do need a cookie!

Heavenly Housewife said...

How beautiful! I adore shortbread. Have a lovely weekend!

healthies said...

it's nice recipe, i don't think that green tea can easily make like other food


Green Tea