Dana Jacobi, an acclaimed food writer and cookbook author, will be contributing posts and recipes to Food and Things. Dana has written 10 best-selling cookbooks. Her latest is The Essential Best Foods Cookbook: 225 Irresistible Recipes Featuring the Healthiest and Most Delicious Foods.
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A good cookie helps me chill out when holiday overload approaches.
When I can get to Amai Tea and Bake House, 171 Third Ave. (between 16th and 17th Sts.), I order their Tea Sweets—superb tea-flavored shortbread cookies. Together with a tea latte, they are as restorative as a yoga class.
Each shortbread tea flavor—from buttery green tea and spicy chai almond, to fruity white tea and strawberry—is filled with aromatic flavors. The individual flavors also boast unique shapes. For instance, the green tea ones are designed to look like a tea leaf.
And Amai’s decor, with its dark wood and exposed brick, is as soothing as its baked goods. The amiable service is calming, too.
When I cannot get to Amai, I make my own Green Tea Shortbread, from a recipe in the Essential Best Foods Cookbook. Putting a batch of this indecently rich treat together takes a total of 10 minutes. And there’s a bonus— your house will smell heavenly.
GREEN TEA SHORTBREAD
Makes 8 pieces
(Get matcha powdered green tea at most Japanese market, including Katagiri, 224 East 59th Street (between 2nd and 3rd Ave.) www.katagiri.com, Sunrise Mart (29 Third Ave) or the tea and coffee counter at any Whole Foods Market.)
3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon powdered matcha green tea
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup superfine or granulated sugar
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled and cut in small pieces
1. Preheat the oven to 325°F.
2. In a small bowl, combine the flour, tea, and salt.
3. Place the sugar in the bowl of a food processor. If using granulated sugar, whirl it for 1 minute to turn it into superfine. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture looks like pebbles. Add the flour mixture and pulse until a coarse, loosely granular dough forms.
4. Turn the dough into an ungreased 8-inch round cake pan. With your fingers, quickly work in any powdery bits then press the dough into an even layer in the pan.
5. Bake for 15 minutes. Make a border by pressing the flat bottom of the tines of a fork in a circle around the outside of the dough. With the tips of the tines, prick the dough all over. Using a sharp knife, score the dough into 8 wedges.
6. Return the shortbread to the oven and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until golden. Do not let it brown.
7. Place the pan on a rack to cool for 10 minutes. Rescore the wedges and run a knife around the edge of the shortbread to loosen it. Invert the pan and gently unmold the shortbread. Cool and break into wedges. Serve the shortbread warm or at room temperature. The shortbread keeps in an airtight container for 5 days.
© Dana Jacobi, The Essential Best Foods Cookbook