One of my first food memories of growing up in Los Angeles was going with my Japanese-American best friend to the local Nijiya supermarket. Most the time we'd get gyoza, Hi-Chew candies, and some Ramune soda. But I got more adventurous the older we got and one day decided I had to try the Matcha shortbread. They were simply green tea shortbread but the taste — a little bitter and sweet — was the definiton of refined for me. Since then I've made my own version for gifts or just for afternoon snacks.
Butter an 8-by-8-inch baking dish then line with parchment paper or aluminum foil, leaving a few inches of overhang on each side. Combine the flour, tea powder, powdered sugar and salt in a food processor. Pulse until it's a fine meal and evenly mixed. Cut the butter into small cubes, add it and the vanilla then pulse until the mixture comes together in a clump.
Press the mixture evenly into the prepared baking dish and place dough in freezer while oven heats up. Heat the oven to 350°F and arrange a rack in middle.
Remove shortbread from freezer, sprinkle a few pinches of granulated sugar and, using the tip of sharp knife, gently score into serving portions. Bake until shortbread is fully set and just starting to brown on the edges, bake until lightly golden, about 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool. Once cool, remove from baking dish and cut along score marks into cookies.
When you're scoring the dough, do not cut all the way through, and score them into squares, rectangles, diamonds, or what have you.
Food styling and photography by Aida Mollenkamp