These distinctively green tea (matcha) flavoured cookies satisfies my cravings for those equally intensely matcha flavoured Japanese langue de chat (cat’s tongue cookies/wafers – photo somewhere below) that I buy by the boxes whenever I am in Tokyo. Green tea desserts, cakes, crepes, mochi, sweets, savouries… I like green tea in any form. Then, I also like the highly aromatic citrusy, sweetly tart Japanese yuzu (lemon) in any form. I paired the 2 together and now have a cookie that I can’t stop eating. How am I ever going to lose those extra weight from my year-end holiday feasting? It did not help that when I returned home from Tokyo, I carted home a lot of food! The tomatoes were sweet, the mandarin oranges sweeter, the cauliflower and peas were full of flavour! Of course, I had to cart home that bottle of yuzu cordial. I am a great luggage packer…

If is legal, I can just about bring home mostly anything. Nothing breaks or spills. And, what of the 1/2 dozen or so boxes of green tea langue de chat I had packed in? I ate them before I took the photo above. Don’t go all incredulous, there are only so few in a box and I did say I so like them. The same went for the strawberries, sweet peas and 3 punnets of maitake (which were promptly turned into tempura). On my next trip, I am going to bring home more of everything!

Did you eat well over the holidays? I ate way too well. Here’s a sampling of how well I ate in Tokyo. It’s hard to say no when you know the food is going to be fabulous. For a little more food pictures from an earlier Tokyo eating trip, click, Japanese Inspired Truffled Noodles With Tiny Dried Shrimps, Tobiko, Cucumbers & Chives.


Imahan at Tokyo’s Takashimya Times Square has super shabu-shabu -thinly sliced beef dipped to cook in a light tasting simmering broth. You then dip the beef in a sauce of your choice – sesame seeds based or citrus soy sauce based. Look at the marbling on the beef! The meal comes with the most appetising side dishes!

Tender, tender, beef sushi. Just before eating, you brush the tops with a soy sauced based glaze.


Just a little freshest of fresh sashimi to tempt the tastebuds.


Uni (sea urchin), salmon ikura (egg roe seasoned in soy sauce), thin slices of tofu in a light tasting cold broth. Simple and wonderful.


Chilled spinach topped with shredded dried bonito (tuna). Makes me feel rather healthy eating it.

Those tiny yams were rather nice!


Light as a feather chawanmushi (steamed eggs).


And so we won’t feel too guilty about ordering double plates of the beef, we had some vegetables.


I did mention I like green tea in any form.

Other delicious food that has contributed to my expanding waist line….I want more! 

My favourite sashimi on a plate.

L’Effervescence is the only Michelin star restaurant I will return to. I am not into paying for fusion food. L’Effervescene is my exception. Their modern French cuisine with a Japanese twist is very original and highly creative. Look at their dessert plate! Every single item had a different texture and taste. Superb.


I love Japanese cakes! This is Pumpkin something….


Raspberry something…


Lemon something…

Pear something…


I love, love these matcha langue de chat.

All the calories are sitting on my thighs now. Time to hit the gym. Argh.

Green Tea Cookies With Citrusy Yuzu Peel

Prep: 15 minutes 
Cook: ~ 10 – 12 minutes per tray
Inactive: 1 hour (for dough to firm up in refrigerator)
Level: Moderately easy
Makes: 80 round 1.5″(3.81cm) cookies
Oven Temperature: 320F (160C)
Can recipe be doubled? Yes.
Make ahead? Keeps well for a week, tightly bottled. Dough can be rolled out, tightly wrapped and then frozen.

Ingredients

8 oz (225 g) unsalted butter*
7.05 oz (200 g) confectioner’s/icing sugar
1 egg yolk**
~4 Tablespoons green tea/matcha powder***
12.16 oz (345 g) all-purpose/plain flour
2 Tablespoons rice flour*
1/4 teaspoon salt**
2 –  3 Tablespoons of any of the following (or omit altogether):
candied yuzu peel*
tangerine peel*
citrus peel**
* Use butter with a butterfat content of at least 82 to 83%. European butters typically falls within these percentages. I am partial to the French brand, President. Whichever brand of butter you choose to use, it must have at least a minimum of 82% butterfat. The higher butterfat and lower water content content means a more buttery and crisp cookie.
** Scroll down to ‘Tips’ for suggestions to use up egg white.
*** May be purchased from most supermarket nowadays on the shelves of either the Japanese or Drinks/Beverage/Tea/Coffee aisle. Quality and strength differ considerably so adjust accordingly. At 4 Tablespoons, my cookies turn out distinctly matcha flavoured and I won’t even describe them as sweet. Reduce to between 2 – 3 Tablespoons for a sweeter cookie.
* This is that extra something that will make the cookies that bit more crisp.
** Omit if you are using salted butter.
*  So that I don’t clutter the ingredient list, please scroll down to ‘Tips’ section to find out more and where to buy candied yuzu peel.
**
 This is a pretty good substitute although it does not taste like yuzu. Please scroll down to ‘Tips’ section to find out more and where to buy.
***  Standard supermarket candied citrus peel are an inferior substitute.  I really don’t like them. They taste too artificial. Pay a little bit more and choose something of a better quality from a gourmet grocer.

Yuzu sorbet. Yum! We buy this tub from a Japanese restaurant we frequent.

Method

Preparing the cookie dough
1. Remove the unsalted butter from the refrigerator and leave it out to soften. Soften means when you push on the butter with your finger, there is a firm give. The feel would be somewhat similar to when you use your finger to push into a firm pillow/cushion. You do not want the butter to be too soft or ‘melty’. If the butter has become too soft, firm it back up in the refrigerator. You do not want to use butter that has become too soft as it will not cream up thick and voluminous. Instead, it will be very liquid.
2. Sift the green tea powder, rice flour, salt and all-purpose/plain flour together so that you have a heap of uniformed green. Set aside.
3. With a balloon whisk, cream the softened butter with the sugar. Start at low to avoid the sugar from flying out of the mixer bowl and increase to medium-high speed for 2-3 minutes.
4. Stop the machine and scrape the bottom of the mixer bowl. Turn on the machine and let it run for 2 – 3 more minutes until it is pale and creamy.
5. Reduce to medium-low speed and add the egg yolk. Let the machine run for 1 minute.
6. Turn off the machine. Scrape the bottom of the mixer bowl.7. Turn the machine back on medium-low speed and let it run for another minute.8. Turn off the machine. Scrape the bottom of the mixer bowl. It will look even thicker and creamier.

9. Remove the mixer bowl. With a spatula, fold in 1/3 of the green-coloured flour mix. The flour does not have to be fully incorporated at this point.

10. Add the next 1/3 of the flour mix and repeat the procedure.

11. Finally, add the last 1/3 of the flour mix. Repeat procedure and do not over mix.

12. The following process is the easiest way to get the dough prepared for cutting. Plop the dough into a large food safe plastic bag. The bag should be big enough to accommodate the rolled out dough. If it is not, split the dough into 2 bags instead.

Rolling and cutting the cookie dough
1. Placing a silicone baking mat or a wet tea towel under the plastic bag helps to secure it in place to make rolling easier. Fold the open end of the plastic bag under to form a rectangle. Roll the dough out no thinner than 1/8″ (0.317cm). No mess. No flour. Easier clean up. Refrigerate until completely cold and firm.

2. In the meantime, cut the yuzu peel into smaller pieces and set aside.
3. Preheat the oven to 320F (160C) oven rack adjusted to the lowest rack. Bake in this position as you do not want the top of the biscuits to brown but stay green. Moreover, too much top heat will turn the candied yuzu peel gummy and chewy.
4. Have the following ready:

(1) sharp/serrated knife
(2) cookie cutter
(3) small bowl of flour (for dipping cookie cutter)
(4) rolling pin
(5) silicone baking mat or parchment paper lined baking tray(s)

5. Remove the rolled dough out from the refrigerator. If necessary, use the rolling pin to level out the dough. With the knife, carefully slice off the top sheet of the plastic bag to reveal the dough. Dip the cookie cutter into flour, shake off excess and make a clean straight cut. You could slip your fingers under the plastic sheet to help pop up the cut cookie dough. With my ‘food safe plastic bag’ method, there is no need to flour your working surface or the rolling pin.

6. These cookies do not spread so you do not have to space them too far apart on your baking tray. Re-roll dough scraps by gathering them up and using the plastic bag to wrap them up into a rectangular parcel, then roll to flatten.

7. Do not leave cut cookies on the kitchen counter. Either bake immediately or refrigerate as it has to be cold when it goes into the oven. This helps bake crisp cookies. The cookie will keep its shape better, retaining all the pretty ridges around its circumference.
8. Press the yuzu peel on to your cut cookie dough.
9. Bake for~ *6 minutes. Remember to place it on the lowest rack in the oven.
10. After ~ *6 minutes. Rotate the baking tray front side back and bake for ~ *6 minutes or until the bottom of the cookies are very slightly brown. Refer to the image below. Use a palette knife to lift the cookies up to check. The tops of the cookies should still be green, the base just a little brown like the one below.
*  When it comes to baking cookies, trust your nose and eyes more than the clock. 

11. Burnt green tea cookies taste horrid so watch carefully. As your cookies could be rolled thinner than mine, check on them after the first 5 minutes in the oven and decide if it’s time to rotate the baking tray. Then adjust baking time if necessary. From my experience with these cookies, rotating the tray after the first 6 minutes into baking is pretty reliable.
12. When cookies are baked perfectly, you can leave to cool for 3 minutes on the tray as they are still fragile whilst hot. Thereafter, transfer to cool completely on a cooling rack. Store in airtight containers.

Tips

1. Candied Yuzu Peel

(1) What are they?
Yuzu lemons are very aromatic and priced for both its peel and juice. The juice is lovely but there is very little in each lemon. The Japanese have made full use of their yuzu by bottling it for use in either savoury (dressings) or sweet (cordials, pastries, cakes, etc) food. My favourite by far is yuzu sorbet which I buy in a large tub from a Japanese restaurant that we frequent. It is sold to us as a special favour as it is not for retail.

(2) Where to buy yuzu peel?
See the 2 packets of yuzu in the picture above (ingredients)? The packet on the left, I bought it at a Tokyo supermarket. The one to the right, I bought it locally at a Japanese dollar store. I have also seen them on the shelves of some Japanese supermarkets.

(3) How else can I use Candied Yuzu Peel?
(1) Fruit Candy. Very delicious.
(2) A Cup Of Tea. Popped into hot tea
(3) Yuzu Mascarpone. Mixed with mascarpone to dollop over cakes and desserts. Try my Moscato d’Asti Poached Pears With Yuzu Mascarpone.

2. Candied Tangerine Peel

(1) What are they?
These are more like dried, sugar frosted tangerines. They are sold as a whole fruit. I do not like the look or taste of those glassy, syrupy looking mixed citrus peel  – too acrid and artificial tasting. It comes in the shape of a flattened tangerine and goes by “Ji Bing”. One fruit would give you about 1/3 cup (5 Tablespoons) of diced tangerine peel.

(2) Where to buy?
I buy these dried tangerines from Traditional Chinese Medicine shops. I have seen them sold locally in just a few supermarkets. Asian grocery stores should have them in stock.

(3) How to slice them for use?
1. As I want only the peel, to use, start off by slicing off the peel bit by bit around the outer circumference.
2. Then cut the tangerine into 2.
3. Place flat side on the cutting board and slice off the peel on both sides. Discard pith and seeds.
4. Slice peel into desired size.

(4) How else can I use Candied Tangerine Peel?
(1) Eaten As Fruit Candy
(2) A Pot Of Tea
I also use it in combination with chinese tea leaves, chrysanthemum, wolfberries/goji berries, red dates, ginseng etcetera to brew a wonderful blend of tea.
(3) In bakes, especially breads
It is also an ingredient in my Russian Easter Bread, Kulich and its accompanying spread, Paskha, Fruit Studded Cream Cheese Spread Without The Raw Eggs.


3. What to do with egg whites?
Save enough to make:

(1) Pavlova, Gluten Free Dessert. If you have not been able to bake a successful meringue, try my recipe. I went through countless egg whites to develop my recipe.

(2) Egg White Ricotta Sour Cream Dollar Pancakes, the fluffiest pancakes!

WHAT’S COMING UP NEXT?

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