Matcha Butter Cookies

November 19, 2015
3 Ratings
Photo by Emiko
  • Makes about 24 cookies
Author Notes

My mother's best friend, Haruko had an Australian husband and therefore celebrated Christmas traditions (just like my mother). She was a great cookie baker and made batches of wonderful cookies for the holidays, and this is her recipe. The Japanese love flavoring desserts with that distinct, bitter flavor of matcha tea, and these cookies are no exception. I like them quite dark and flavorful but you can use a little less matcha for paler cookies and a more delicate flavor. Haruko's delicate, buttery cookies are inspired by Spanish polverone cookies, which can also be simply dusted with confectioners' sugar rather than decorated with icing. These are perfect with a cup of tea. —Emiko

What You'll Need
  • For the cookies:
  • 1/2 cup (125 grams) unsalted butter, softened
  • 6 tablespoons (50 grams) confectioners' sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups (150 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup (50 grams) blanched almond meal
  • 3 to 4 teaspoons powdered matcha green tea
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • For the icing:
  • 4 tablespoons (30 grams) confectioners' sugar
  • 2 teaspoons egg white
  1. For the cookies, beat the butter until creamy and smooth. Add the other ingredients and combine to make a smooth, soft dough. You can let it rest half an hour, wrapped in plastic, in the fridge if it is a bit too soft.
  2. Roll on a lightly floured surface to about 1/3 inch (8 millimeters) thick. Cut out shapes with a cookie cutter and place on a baking sheet lined with baking paper.
  3. Bake at 325° F (160° C) for 15 minutes or until they are still pale (not yet golden) but dry to the touch. Remove from the oven and let cool 5 minutes on the tray before moving to a cooling rack.
  4. In the meantime, make the icing by mixing little by the little the egg white into the confectioners' sugar until you have a thick but smooth paste. With the back of a wooden skewer (the flat not the pointy end), decorate the cooled cookies with polka dots. Pop the cookies back in a low oven for 5 minutes to set the icing. Alternatively, you can simply dust with confectioners' sugar and serve. Store cookies in airtight container at room temperature.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Lisa Hill
    Lisa Hill
  • tortellini
  • Emiko
  • Babs

15 Reviews

Rosamond December 23, 2019
I tried to make these and the dough looked good before I chilled it, but once I took it out of the refrigerator, the dough completely crumbled when I tried to do anything with it. I live in Minnesota and it is incredibly dry here in the winter. I suspect the dry air was partly to blame. I'll try the recipe again in the spring.
Emiko December 26, 2019
Thanks for the feedback, I think others have found this similar problem too, re-reading the messages below there are some good solutions to the crumbly dough (it is meant to be quite crumbly but not too crumbly to do anything with!), including adding a touch more butter or less matcha.
these P. October 8, 2018
Regarding the crumbly dough and replacing almond meal (especially for nut allergies), I've tried the recipe twice with 1 cup + 2tbsp flour and 2tbsp cornstarch instead of the flour and almond meal amounts. The dough should look like wet sand initially but does eventually come together into a medium-green colored dough (if it's still light/white-green, it's not done being mixed), and the cookies are tender and delicious.

I've also frozen the cut cookie dough and baked them straight from the freezer (15-17 minutes), and that's worked well also.
H D. January 3, 2016
Is there something I can use in place of the almond meal? I don't have any on hand.
Emiko January 4, 2016
It's partly what makes it so soft and crumbly so you won't have the same texture but I would say corn starch is next best substitute -- or simply use all flour if you don't have that.
Lisa H. December 18, 2015
putting some coconut oil on my hands & focusing on pressing & pushing the dough together seemed to work. be careful not to add too much matcha which can make the dough dry (i made this mistake)
Emiko December 19, 2015
That's a really good point, thanks for mentioning that!
tortellini December 18, 2015
I finally made these and they turned out wonderful. I used the suggested amount of butter and found the dough not too dry to work with. I used my hand to flatten the piece of dough at first, then the rolling pin to get it level - it worked for me. I did measure all the ingredients with a scale. I find that accurate measurements give best results in baking. Thanks for the lovely recipe!
Emiko December 19, 2015
Wonderful! Thanks for the feedback.
Lisa H. December 17, 2015
i agree that they are very crumbly. i'm going to coat my hands with coconut oil & flatten & roll - hope it works. the color & texture is nice
Linda December 9, 2015
Made these today and the dough was very crumbly and dry. Is there a liquid or fat missing from the recipe? I added some veg oil to get a soft smooth dough. Any ideas? Followed the recipe to a T. Thanks!
Emiko December 10, 2015
No, nothing missing - the butter is the fat in the recipe. Polverones (which this recipe is modelled on) are known for their crumbly, soft texture and are often rolled into balls instead of cut out like this, which helps with crumbly or delicate dough. The recipe is right, and the dough should only just come together but be on the verge of nearly crumbly rather than actually crumbly; I can only think of maybe little discrepancies in weighing out the ingredients perhaps (I use weight always) could account for it? Sounds like you did the right thing though (or a tad more butter to bring it back together?), hope you enjoyed them!
Babs December 17, 2015
Yes, crumbly! I added a few tablespoons more of butter and it came together. BTW I measured the ingredients.
tortellini November 19, 2015
these sound fabulos, and I will definately make them this year. I think I will use my x-mas tree cookie cutter, for some little green trees. Any idea how long they keep, properly stored in a cookie tin?
Emiko November 19, 2015
I would say they keep very well for about a week, longer if you live in a dry area. Haruko (who gave me this recipe) used to do these in a christmas tree shape too!