Since CT first bought some matcha back from Japan a few years ago, I have been in love with the stuff. Matcha is a Japanese green tea, very finely ground and stirred into hot water to make a beautiful bright green beverage. It also works wonderfully well in baking, where it not only gives a lovely colour, but acts as a good foil for all that sweetness. Here are some of the ways I’ve already used it:
- Matcha and white chocolate cupcakes
- Triple layer matcha chocolate cake
- Chocolate and matcha battenberg
- Matcha chocolate roll
- Rhubarb, matcha and chocolate marble cake
When I was sent a packet of ceremonial matcha to try recently from Matcha Factory, I got very excited. It’s been a while since I had any to drink and even longer since I did any baking with it. Tea is a serious business in Japan and ceremonial matcha is the finest grade available, made from the youngest and sweetest leaves. It is thus the most expensive; this 50g packet costs £18.95. If you are interested in using matcha for baking purposes only, then a coarser and cheaper version would be fine.
The tea gave me the opportunity to try out the two new glasses I recently picked up for 40p in one of our local charity shops. The tea itself has a unique and distinctive flavour which I took to very readily.
Matcha is a bit of a wonder and guess what? It has achieved “superfood” status. It is reported to have 137 times the antioxidants of normal green tea and is said to increase the metabolism, boost the immune system, improve concentration and help the body fight cancer.
Given these wondrous properties, the shortbread biscuits I made with it, are ideal fare for the leaner, meaner, healthier month of January. Yes there is some sugar in them, but for biscuits, it’s a relatively small amount and it’s balanced by all the matcha health benefits. I’ve used half wholemeal spelt in the mix and wholewheat semolina rather than white. Cocoa nibs are packed full of another set of health giving properties and the matcha element has already been covered.
This is how I made matcha cocoa nibbed shortbread
- Creamed 75g vanilla sugar (caster) with 150g salted butter until light and fluffy.
- Added 1 tbsp matcha and creamed some more.
- Sifted in 100g wholemeal spelt flour, 100g white flour and 50g wholewheat semolina.
- Stirred to combine until a sandy mixture was achieved.
- Halved the mixture and pressed into two 6″ (15 cm) tin foil flan cases.
- Pricked all over with a fork.
- Baked at 150C for 25 minutes.
- Dusted one with vanilla (caster) sugar and cut into triangles and turned the other one out onto a board before dusting with sugar.
Oh my, this shortbread was good. It was lovely and soft and melted in the mouth with added textural interest being added by the chewy cocoa nibs. The flavour was perfect for me, not too strong but well defined and of course, I adore the colour. If you prefer something a little sweeter, you could substitute the cocoa nibs for the chocolate of your choice chopped into bits or even leave out the chocolate element all together.
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