bittersweetbaker

Matcha Shortbread

In Cookies on January 6, 2013 at 3:39 pm
From Drop Box

In mid-November, I traveled to Nepal with school. I’d never expected to ever visit the country, but when my school announced it as the annual travel destination for the 11th grade, I signed up immediately.

It’s been more than a month since we’ve come back, but some mornings, I still wake up smelling Nepal.

It’s the kind of heavy scent that buries itself deep inside my memory, but feels so fresh and real that I’m found confusing my imagination for the doubt that it’s still clinging to my hair, like a memory that refuses to be washed out. It’s musky and a little sour. On the first days in Nepal, I mistook it for the redolence of an exotic spice, but now I’m near certain it’s the mingled smell of cow dung, rotting fruit, and sandy dust. It’s rather charming in it’s own way. I even find myself missing it every once in a while, wishing to be transported back to the day of our flight, when the entire trip was still before us.

Under normal circumstances, I would imagine that the week before the trip would have been hectic with excitement. I would have found it hard to concentrate in class. I would have packed a few days in advance. But in reality, the anticipation didn’t start until I had already lugged my duffel bag to school at midnight. I had been overworked and sleep deprived the entire week before, and hadn’t even thought to start packing until I realized in a panic that our flight would be taking off in less than a day.

From Drop Box

A fish stand in Bhaktapur

My math class had done much the same. Amidst overheard yawns of, “Have you started packing?”
“No, because sleep. I needed sleep,” from the seats across from me, I began feeling a little less guilty about paying Nepal so little excitement.

But once there, I realized how much there was to be excited about. I began scribbling down ideas and sentence fragments for the article I was to write in the school newspaper into the notebook I kept stashed between strawberry gum and pens in my backpack.

The entire country thrived with culture. On the first day, we visited Bhaktapur, where we trekked around town to bargain for the best prices. Bhaktapur is a little town in the east corner of the Kathmandu Valley, with winding dirt streets and motorcycles that move alarmingly fast, and with people who were eager to help us find our way around. Kathmandu was similar, and had the same down to earth air that is not common in large cities.

From Drop Box

Bhaktapur

In the coming days, we white water rafted, repelled down waterfalls, and hiked for hours, surrounded by mountain ranges that were a faded matcha green, and whose dustiness lent them a sense of etherealness. It was exhilarating, daring, sometimes a little frightening.
But in interviewing my friends, I realized that most of us will probably remember Nepal for the effect its people and culture had on us. The nature was breathtaking, oftentimes even imposing in its beauty, but the genuine warmth of the Nepalese had a stronger, deeper pull.

What struck me about Nepal is how happy its people seemed to be, and how happy I was in return. The simplicity of life there urged us to reconsider our values.

Back home, I sniffed the pocket notebook I’d taken with me on the trip in hopes of smelling again that scent that’s so hard to describe. But the pages smell like strawberry gum, disappointing and artificial.

These matcha cookies have nothing to do with my trip. In fact, I made them months before. But in editing the photos, I realized how similar their shade of green was to the mountains that had surrounded us for the better part of a week in Nepal.

They’re dainty little cookies, crumbly, and with a coarse crumb. Their sugar enrobing makes them satisfyingly sweet, but without taking away from their delicate green tea flavor.

From Drop Box
Matcha Green Tea Shortbread Cookies
From Use Real Butter
makes 5 dozen 1-inch cookies

3/4 (2.25 oz.) cup confectioner’s sugar
1 1/2 tbsps matcha green tea powder
10 tbsps (5 oz.) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 3/4 cup (8.5 oz.) flour
3 large egg yolks
1 cup granulated sugar (to coat the dough)

Whisk the confectioner’s sugar and matcha powder together. Beat the butter and matcha sugar mixture together in a stand mixer (use paddle attachment) until the butter is smooth and fluffy. Add the flour and stir until just combined. Mix in the egg yolks until they are incorporated and the dough comes together. Gather the dough into a ball and flatten it into a thick disc.

Wrap the dough in plastic and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or until it is firm.

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Use a rolling pin to roll the dough out to about 1/2-inch thickness. Use a small cookie cutter (about 2-inches) to cut shapes from the dough. Roll the cut shapes in granulated sugar and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake the cookies for 12-15 minutes (13 minutes for me) or until they begin to turn golden at the edges. Makes about 5 dozen 1-inch cookies (probably 3 dozen 2-inch cookies). Store in airtight container away from sunlight as the color will fade with exposure to sun.

From Drop Box
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  1. Your trip to Nepal sounds lovely and really exotic! Lucky that you got to go there, with your school especially :)
    The cookies look so cute, and delicious :) I haven’t been able to experiment with matcha yet, or even get my hands on some. But I’m really curious now.

  2. Some really good writing about your trip, really! Sounds like so much fun. The matcha shortbread cookies look really good, very cute.

  3. Hey! You’re back! haha…..
    I’ve never been to Nepal before but it does sound really interesting ;) I’d always wished my school would go somewhere overseas but the furthest we ever went was about 3 hours (by bus). But I guess I have plenty of time now to travel :D
    Your matcha cookies look beautiful, especially the sugar coated ones :)

  4. Great recipe

  5. Your trip sounds amazing!

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