green-dreams Recipes

green tea shortbread sandwiches

Ah, right… So where were we? There were tarts best forgotten, fat, squishy pretzels, horribly-named “meatovers” and I’m sorry, but the rest of the week escapes me. However, I can assure you it was nothing interesting until Sunday when my friend Crystal decided that rather than going out for dinner, drinks or any other birthday party standards, this year she would keep the shenanigans as well as inevitable embarrassments within her apartment walls, purchasing a karaoke set, imploring us to bring excesses of sake and starting the party in the middle of the afternoon. Let’s just thank the heavens above that I averted the camera’s glare, didn’t not imbibe myself enough to get to crooning “Midnight Train to Georgia,” (though I may actually regret this — rest assured, nobody else does) or eat so many white chocolate ganache-filled green tea cookies that I began to reconsider my previous anti stance on this empty form of cocoa mass. Except that last part, which happened repeatedly.

As using my friends as guinea pigs is my favorite hobby these days, I took this birthday party as an excuse to tackle a few things I’ve long itched to work out: a core, classic shortbread recipe that could be tweaked into any format that pleased me, green tea powder and resisting the impulse to heighten the color with food dye, a fine flavor pairing for the aforementioned matcha as well as a place where white chocolate is actually better suited than it’s more tasteful and widely-loved counterpart. I studied more shortbread recipes, techniques and variations than could ever be considered healthy in the latter part of this week, and though I am eager to share with you all the juicy things I have learned (reminiscent of the sun’s rays! dates back to the 16th century!), I suspect you didn’t come here to fall into a deep slumber. Suffice it to say, almond and green tea are a match made in heaven, white chocolate is an infernal pain in the ass to work with but in the end, potentially rewarding, and anyone who claims to have their own shortbread recipe is lying. I’ve read them all, and within two degrees, they are identical.

This cookie, however, is delicious and should I ever open a bakery — something cozy and unpretentious that will magically allow me to both serve the people and sleep until 8 a.m. — I will assemble these by the hundreds, and serve them alongside miniature grapefruit loaves, marbled brownies, small Guinness-chocolate bundts, icebox cupcakes, cubes of mom’s sour cream coffee cake and a zillion fantastic breads. I’ve given this a lot of thought, you see; all that’s left is the bank robbery, a couple years on the lam in Mexico, oh, and learning to love repetitive work. Hey, at least I’ve got the menu sorted.

green tea cookies

Green Tea Shortbread Sandwiches

These cookies are crisp and delicate, good with or without filling. The recipe below will make a mildly sweet cookie, but you can increase the sugar by one to two tablespoons, if desired. If you have any fancy butter in the fridge, this is a great time to use it as the flavor will really come through.

It took some hunting around to find matcha — green tea powder. Several tea shops carried it, but required a quarter-pound purchase. We finally lucked out at Whole Foods, which carries the Rishi brand in small quantities.

2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 1/2 to 3 tablespoons unsweetened green tea powder (matcha) (updated amount: reviews seem to prefer the lower amount)
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
Superfine sugar, for sprinkling (optional)

Whisk dry ingredients in a small bowl. In a larger one, beat the softened butter with an electric mixer until just smooth. Add the almond extract, then all of the dry ingredients. Divide the dough in half and shape into two discs, wrapped in plastic. Chill the discs for an hour or two in the refrigerator, or until completely firm.

Roll the dough to your desired thickness (for the small leaves, I went for about 1/8″) on a floured board. You will probably want to lightly flour the top of the dough, too, before rolling. Cut with cookie cutters into your desired shape (if you are making sandwich cookies, consider a shape that will match when mirrored, something I wasn’t bright enough to see coming), arranging them on parchment paper-lined baking sheets. They barely expand, so there is no need to leave an abundance of space between cookies. Sprinkle a thin coat of superfine sugar over the cookies (optional).

Bake them in a preheated 325°F oven until lightly golden at the edges. For thin, small cookies this took 15 minutes. The darker the edges, the more intense the flavor and, some say, the longer the cookies will keep.

White Chocolate Ganache Filling

The reason why I said white chocolate is an “infernal pain in the ass to work with” is that most white chocolate sold is falsely labeled as such. A couple white “chocolates” to outright avoid: Ghiradelli White Chips (note the absence of the word chocolate; oddly enough, their White Chocolate Baking Bar, which I used, is the real deal), and Nestle Premier White Morsels (for the same reason). While these may be okay for a brownie or chocolate chip cookie, they do not melt smoothly into a ganache or coating. Even the better-quality stuff easily separates from the warmth of your hand in a piping bag (it’s not pretty) so try to work quickly.

4 ounces white chocolate, chopping into very small pieces
3 to 4 tablespoons heavy cream

Heat the chocolate in the microwave for 30 seconds, stir it completely, then repeat this process, if necessary, in 15-second increments. Don’t let the chocolate burn.

Add heavy cream, one tablespoon at a time, stirring until smooth. Cool ganache in the refrigerator, stirring every few minutes, until firm enough to spread or pipe between cookies.

Once you have filled and assembled your cookies, I find that shocking them in the freezer for 5 minutes get the chocolate to firm up quickly without sogging the cookie, so they can be stored at room temperature until needed.

See more: Cookie, Photo

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67 comments on green tea shortbread sandwiches

  1. I agree on the white chocolate front, Ghiradelli White Chocolate Bar is suitable but the chips are not. Also, I’ve found that I have more control with white chocolate using a double boiler, then in the microwave.

    I’m going to try and find the green tea powder because I know that B will absolutely adore these cookies. Too bad I won’t be able to find time to make them for him, secretly, before Valentine’s day.

  2. I love white chocolate, and I’m glad to see someone else use it. (It’s so often knocked, but its creamy sweetness calms me.) I found out the same thing about melting it when I was dipping cherries for a party.

    Your cookies are beautiful – I’m a collector of rolling pins and cookie cutters, and I love the leaf motif! (Did you draw the veins? Toothpick?)

    And the color is perfect. Not too strong, not too light. Appetizing.

  3. Those were good, I liked the ones with creme filling best. Of course.

    I begged Alex to sing back-up for me on American Woman, and he declined. Sigh. I tried. Thanks for taking pictures for me. You manged to get some good ones of my nose. I hadn’t even realized how great it was coming along til I uploaded the pictures last night.

  4. I posted about a matcha loaf last week (delicious – I’ve made it thrice in less than a fortnight!), and as I’ve still got some matcha left, I may try your cookies next – they look great!

  5. deb

    Jenifer — Amen! And while not for the faint of heart, I found a picture of what happened two years ago when I tried to melt white chocolate chips to coat stuffed strawberries for our engagement party. (Stuffed strawberry recipe here, it’s awesome, and what a fun idea for Valentines, non?) (Really really repulsive picture of clumpy melted white “chip” over here.)

    Abby — I don’t love it yet, but I am getting there! I’m beginning to see it as an ingredient that compliments some flavors better than dark chocolate, something that would have been way too intense for green tea. I only wish better-quality white chocolate were more readily available; I’m sure that would go ways to improve my impression of it. And thank you. I love, love those tiny leaves (1.5″, most of them) but they did not match back-to-back, kind of stupid planning on my part. I ended up stacking cookies, so one side didn’t look as pretty, to get them to line up. D’oh!

    Jocelyn — Thanky. Alex took most of the pictures, actually, he’s much better a t people shots. I think it’s was too early to be as drunk as would be required to get him to sing American Woman. But, I suspect this will be the beginning of many karaoke parties to come, hee hee.

    Pille — That looks lovely! Maybe I’ll try YOUR recipe with my leftovers, too. ;)

  6. I have been checking back repeatedly for a new post. Thanks! These look great. I have a green tea cake recipe that I love (with green tea whipped cream). Glad to have another use for the powder . . . and almond – yum!

  7. Oh, those are very cute! I’ve read about so many interesting recipes involving matcha this winter, my inability to find any is starting to grate. A LOT.

    Also, I covet your cookie cutters.

  8. I made the fattest, cutest mini pretzels in the world this weekend for a party – WOW – was I the star of the show! My husband has found a new deeper love for me. And I made the 2nd round of the icebox cake (two weekends in a row) by request only! I almost did the cupcakes, but forgot to buy the cupcake holder thingys at the store. Your photos are so inspiring.

  9. love the cookies – they look like little puzzle pieces!! I am very curious to try this. Sometimes crispy, butter..mmmm…. I’m not a huge fan of white chocolate, but this does look a perfect application for it!!

    I’m curious: could you actually taste the green tea – was it a strong flavor?

  10. deb

    Maggie — Suh-weet. I can just see a bunch of food bloggers descend on a Chase in midtown with a bunch of spatulas and very sharp kitchen knives. And people think cooking is boring…

    Diane — Ooh, green tea cake. That sounds awesome!

    Denin — I couldn’t find the set I have online from a brief search, but I did find a similar one. Although one of those does NOT look like a leave at all. I think mine also came with a pumpkin and an apple in a tin of six.

    Nicki — I’m glad you liked both of them. I hope you aren’t under the icebox curse, too, where you’re pretty much not allowed to make anything else, ever. “These cookies are good,” they said yesterday, “but the icebox cupcakes are better.” [Groan.]

    Rachael — My original plan was to use 2 tablespoons but I upped it to three becuase I really wanted to taste the green tea. It’s subtle, but it’s there. I also kept the almond amount low (1/2 tsp.) so it didn’t overpower the green tea. The only thing that threatens to, unfortunately, is the white chocolate because it’s always so damned swee, but just a little.

  11. Beautiful cookies, and very entertaining post. I like to roll my cookie dough between sheets of parchment paper while it’s still soft, and then chill the rolled out sheets of dough. That way you can get very thin, crisp shapes.

  12. Amelia

    I love your leaf cookie cutters, and but I’ve also run into the mirror-image problem in making sandwich cookies. Perhaps this will help when you want to make sandwich cookies again… my solution has been to take half of the cookies I’ve cut out and flip them over before baking them. Presto — perfect mirror images, without having to match cookies front to back.

  13. I love cut outs, and do leaf shapes in the Fall. They can be sprinkled with red or orange sugar, then using a pastry brush, lightly brush a little milk over the top and then bake them. They come out with gorgeous colors all swirled in.

    I love the idea of green tea cookies.

  14. deb

    Astrid — Great advice! I’ve been meaning to try that and keep forgetting. Thanks for the reminder. I hear it totally does the trick.

    Amelia — It’s like a light bulb going off over here. Seriously, days like this I wonder if there is anything besides dead air between my ears (Alex, don’t answer). You’re utterly brilliant, and I’m utterly brainless for not thinking of this before. Thank you!

    Kate — Ooh, fall cookies. I love love anything fall-themed. As for the tea-theme, I’d love to try some other teas next, like earl grey or chamomile or this mint tea I have from Fauchon. I am VERY much not a tea drinker, but I love this mild, herbal approach to baking.

  15. I’m so sad: I tried to make a version of this – since I didn’t have green tea powder, I used a chocolate shortbread recipe that got very poor reviews on epicurious. I just posted to my own blog about how it crumbled to pieces instantly. Too bad and lesson learned, though I’m even more encouraged to try your recipe now – those cookies just look so good!! (More importantly, they also look solid!)

  16. they look amazing. I may just try them out in time for chinese new year this weekend. Thanks for the recipe. By the way, I added your great site as a link on mine. I hope you dun mind. Shaz, a foodie blogger from Singapore.

  17. ann

    HA! Boy did you take those cookies to the Nth degree!! buttery shortbread, and just to make sure they’re really, really awesome, let’s fill them with ganache! oh god, that’s why we love you Deb!

  18. *I* want to hear the history! I won’t fall asleep, I promise! I was a medieval literature major in college…if I didn’t fall asleep then, I won’t now. Promise!

    PS~ Cookies look divine, too.

  19. This looks very interesting… don´t think I can get hold of green tea powder though (I´ll check in Chinatown next time I go).

    A quick idea for the too-sweet white chocolate dilemmas. One of my favorite Argentine cooks recommended doing a 1 part white chocolate, 2 parts plain yogurt mix that ends up like a thick cream. She says it´s the only way she can eat it because otherwise it´s too sweet. I have wanted to try it, but haven´t yet, but it sounds like it could work really well.

  20. Hi Deb~

    I have been reading your site for quite a while, since before you met Alex :), and I wanted to tell you how much I enjoy it. I have been wanting to start a blog of my own for a while and I looked to you for inspiration. Mind you, I’m not such a great cook, so mine is more about restaurant fare and other activities. So I’m sure you get these kinds of things all the time, but I was really hoping you could link to me or just check out my site and see if I’m on the right track (it’s new:be warned).

    Thank you!
    Kara at the Cheeky Minx

    P.S. – Your coq au vin was brilliant! I went out and bought the Julia Child “How to Cook” book. I hope that’s a good place to start!

  21. Samphire

    So pretty, and the muted hues are so much more appetising than a scary amped up green. I’m not a fan of food colouring, and remember with terror a dodgy Indian restaurant in a tiny town in Dumfrieshire (Scottish Borders) when the pilau rice came dyed radioactive green and the nann breads were artistically splattered with red. The whole table went quiet and slack jawed with shock & awe. Tasted terrible too…

  22. Liz

    I just made these last night! Two things: I bought the matcha at Whole Foods at their coffee counter; they were able to just scoop out 3 T and sell it to me in bulk. I noticed the powder was actually a ginger green tea, but decided it would probably work out, flavor-wise and it DID. Yummy. Second, I love white chocolate, but you’re right that it was impossible to work with! I think I might experiment with just dipping half a cookie into some white chocolate or something and forgoing the ganache altogether. Anyway, loved making these! Thanks for the recipe.

  23. Reese

    Finally tried these (2nd on a list of 4 things I’m trying out – still have no-knead bread and pretzels to go) last night and it went… okay. I’m a little dissapointed with how flat tasting they are when they hit the tongue but they really fill out when you start to chew – I wonder if salted butter would help? I wasn’t able to find the green tea powder over at Whole Foods but I found an iced green tea MIX that I decided to try instead – FUN! While the mix did not give any green tea flavor to the cookie or turn it the shade I was hoping for, there are little burts of tangy flavor throughout the cookie that really make it fun. I’ll be doing the white chocolate tonight but probably just melting/dipping. Still looking forward to it!

    Just read the last comment – the coffee counter! Duh! Okay, back to Whole Foods I go…

  24. deb

    Thanks Liz! I have always preferred my baked goods with salted butter, but lately I’m trying to convert back to unsalted to accommodate all the different salt levels people like. I think I’ll update the recipe to note that some people have felt the flavor came forward better with salted butter. I love having recipe testers! ;)

  25. your description of owning a bakery is excellent! a lot of hard work and altough the products are delicious it is only incredible levels of consistancy(read hard work) that make a bakery work. Much better to shop in one or better still own one and employ bakers! I have been a chef for 10 years and am toying with the idea of working in a rench bakery for a couple of months. I work as a personal chef for billionaires and so many ask me to replicate french baguettes but no matter how hard i try it just is never as good as France. baking is a true art!

  26. Laura

    These were an interesting change of pace — I filled only some of them and used a sweet red bean filling instead of the ganache, and I do like the filled ones better than the plain ones (I used unsalted butter, so that may have been part of it; I mostly found that I wanted them a bit sweeter and the filling did the trick).

    Oh, but red bean paste and (whole wheat) green tea cookies look *terrible* together. Really disgusting. We’ll see if I can still pass them off on my coworkers. ;-)

  27. I agree with you about the ghiradelli chocolate…yuck! Last time I used it (and will ever use it) was in white chocolate peppermint ice cream. It was heavenly but I had to stop and scrape the waxy fake chocolate residue off the roof of my mouth every few minutes….it was worth it though…best ice cream I have ever made.

  28. Can someone tell me if the tea has to say 100% matcha?
    I have Costco’s KIRKLAND brand that is produced by ITO EN and the box says its “Matcha Blend” and explains that the tea is made with Sencha Green Tea from Japan and the Match, a green tea powder is added to enhance flavor and tea.

    When I use these tea bags to make Iced Tea some of it (but not all) seems to be powder but, after brewing, some of the tea remains in the tea bag itself.
    So before trying to brew anything, would opening up the teabags and pouring this into the recipe work or not?

    What do those more knowledgeable about green tea think? I want to make these cookies soon and am wondering if I still need to buy (different) green tea! Thanks for any help you may be able to offer.

    I’m familiar with that type of tea, and unfortunately I think the best way for you to bake/cook with matcha, you’d have to buy it, rather than sift through the tea bags. Matcha is ground up tea leaves, so essentially tea powder. The matcha that is used to enhance the sencha tea flavour is more or less, not that much (amount-wise) matcha to begin with. Not sure if there is a Japanese grocery store in your area, if so, they will most probably carry it. Even local-area grocery stores (Whole Foods, for instance) may carry it, but if not, perhaps you can just go to and find a retailer that sells it and purchase it that way. :) Good luck.

    Great blog, feel free to browse mine :D Looking at your stuff makes me want to bake, ASAP, hehe

  30. I’d just like to say thanks for a lovely recipe. I used half the dough to make snowflake shapes, which I served without filling, and the other half I sandwiched together with a mixture of cream cheese, toasted coconut and honey. They were crisp and sandy and just perfect. Mine came out quite a bit darker than yours, though–I don’t know if it’s a question of lighting or of different teas:

  31. Lydia

    loving this recipe so far. had a hard time tracking down matcha powder and then found it in a tiny container will just 6.5 tablespoons. Thanks for the tips on distinguishing matcha powder from tea for steeping.

    I’m chilling the dough at the moment. once the cookies are assembled how long can they keep for? If I bake them tomorrow will they last another day before I serve them?

  32. Jen

    Has anyone tried this recipe using Green Tea Powder that’s not matcha? My whole foods did not have any green tea powder and the asian grocery store had the powder but it was not labled matcha.

  33. Katherine

    Dear Deb,

    Can you tell me what I might have done incorrectly that resulted in my dough crumbling? I used the ingredients listed and everything looked good until I pulled the disks of dough out and they kept falling to powder. Is there anything I can do to rescue the crumbly dough or something I should bear in mind for the future?

    Many thanks and best regards,

  34. deb

    Hi Katherine — Not being in the kitchen with you, of course, it is always hard for me to tell what went wrong. A common error that leads to too-crumbly shortbreads is measuring too much flour or dry ingredients; even packing it too tightly in a measuring cup can cause this. Nevertheless, sometimes doughs are awfully hard and crumbly to cut when they’re just out of the fridge. Letting them warm up a little at room temperature can help.

  35. Kristine

    Katherine, I had the same problem with my dough and I just added a few sprinkles of water to soften it up again. Once the water is incorporated you can flour your board and dough. This works especially well when you are rolling the dough several times. Shortbread can be tricky sometimes.

  36. Talitha

    I’ll be baking up a storm in a couple weeks for my daughter’s school’s staff appreciation week and I’m making these for the China themed day. What I need to know is, approximately how many cookies will this make? I have 35 people to feed, and why is it that they always eat more when it’s a cookie? No one would think of having two slices of cake, but two, three, four cookies disappear into their mouths without a second thought! : ) I suppose I could dip the cookies to stretch them out instead of making them sandwich style? Thanks!

  37. Michelle

    I made these cookies recently using up the last of my matcha and the cookies turned out super dark green and very strong unlike yours, like dumping the powder in your mouth and trying to chew. I really want these to work for me next time I will just use 1 tablespoon of matcha hopefully that won’t wreck the formula.

  38. Anna Beth

    The dough was exquisite to work with – such a beautiful color and texture. I used Irish butter and the extra creaminess of it was work the extra $$$$ of it so thank you for the tip on investing on that ingredient. I chilled the ganache but it never set up so was super runny and messy. Have you tried making it more like a white chocolate buttercream filling?

  39. Like Michelle and Judith, I followed the recipe and mine turned out disturbingly dark green (instead of spring, think swamp) and with a very strong matcha flavor. (I like green tea and green tea ice cream, so I was looking forward to trying these cookies.) Do you know if there are different types of matcha? Would that have impacted the color and strength of flavor?

  40. Susan

    I had the same experience as Michelle, Judith in Ottawa, and Megan–I used matcha, 3 Ts, and the color was really dark green and one of my taste testers/innocent guests said “you can taste the tannin!” They made your mouth pucker. If I get brave enough to make these again (the co$t of matcha!), i think I’ll start with 1 T and try to match the color of the cookies in your picture.

  41. These look gorgeous!
    Rather than the chocolate filling i’ll have a whirl at making some Matcha icing (now to look at how to make Icing lol), or just see if i can make any kind of Matcha flavoured spread/fondant :)

    Thanks for the recipe!

  42. tayuri

    Like a few others mentioned, my cookies turned out to be a rather dark green as well. However, I didn’t mind–I was making these with a Xmas tree-shaped cutter for gifts, so it turned out well. The strong matcha flavor was also well-received by my Japanese friends and non-Japanese friends living in Japan. Thanks for sharing!

  43. I’m making my second batch of these cookies now. The first I made for a Smitten Kitchen progressive dinner and they were a hit. Mine turn out much darker than yours, more like swamp monster green than a light tint, so it must just be different teas. I admit I don’t love them plain, the green tea leaves a bitter after-taste, but the white chocolate sweetens them up and balances everything out very nicely. Plus they are going to be so cute this time with my tiny christmas tree cutter! Can’t wait! Thanks for this creative use of macha!

  44. Val

    Made these last night, didn’t love them. They turned out very dark green with this sharp taste of the green tea. It turned most people off when they ate them. I used 3tbsp of match a but next time I will go for just one. The people that liked them were the ones who are heavy tea drinkers. Oh well! I like the idea of the light color green for St. Patrick’s day or Christmas.

  45. Maggie

    Hi, Deb!

    I made these this week for a cookie swap (best idea EVER, by the way), and they turned out amazing! I found a couple of things; one is that with the high-quality matcha I used ($10+ for almost exactly 3tbsp!), the tea taste was really intense and the green was very dark – they looked like little spinach souffles or something! I loved them (as did my swapee), but it wasn’t what I expected. I also found that when rolled thin, they started to burn after about 7 minutes, so the second and third batches came out *much* better than the first. They also puffed up in kind of peculiar ways; a bunch of them ended up as these sort of hollow domes. More room for the ganache, I guess!

    I used a Lindt white chocolate bar for the ganache, and it was perfect. It’s a really inspired flavor combination!

  46. Courtney

    Deb, I love you to the moon and use your recipes on a weekly basis (and have preordered my cookbook SO EXCITED!!), but so many of your recipes lack yeilds and it is so frustrating! It won’t stop me from using them, but it would be lovely if you wouldn’t mind adding yeilds whenever possible. Thanks!

  47. Deb,
    I just had a tea party and made these, your lemon squares, and the dreamy cream scones. All a huge hit. Thanks so much for all the awesome recipes over the years.

  48. Another person necessarily create really discussions I would talk about. That is the first-time I used your website web site and for that reason much? We surprised while using evaluation you’ve made to generate this kind of publish unbelievable. Fantastic activity!

  49. Mordy

    I have a long family history of refusing to go to the store to buy ingredients when I have something similar at home. So I made these with those sencha-matcha mix tea bags you get at Costco and a touch of almond flour instead of matcha and almond extract. The recipe still works. However, the cookies have slightly different texture than one might expect. They’re also have green flecks instead of a uniform color, but overall, they were lovely.

  50. Josh

    This didn’t work at all for me. The dough came out of the fridge a dry, crumbly mess, and even when I had worked it enough to roll and cut, the cookies ended up inedibly dry. Could the ratios be off slightly?

    1. deb

      Josh — I’m sorry to hear. I know they worked for me at the time (I photographed this recipe, not another, of course!), however, it’s also an 8 year-old recipe and I haven’t made it in almost as many. I’ll put it on the to-revisit-soon list.

  51. Rebecca

    I have an almond allergy and was wondering if you had suggestions for an alternative to the almond extract- maybe vanilla extract instead?

    Thanks so much! I love your blog and am so looking forward to trying this recipe!!!

  52. Mira

    Just tried these out. They came out okay. I used a bit of an unfortunate cookie cutter shape so the ganache comes out on the sides in parts, but doesn’t reach the sides in others, which looks funny … They taste good, but are a bit too sweet for me personally (I grew up with my mum always halving the amount of sugar in every recipe). I used 1.5 tablespoons of matcha only, and it made for a bright green dough – needs no more.

    My one real point of criticism: It was a real pain working with the dough, because it would stick, no matter how long I put it in the fridge or how much flour I added. When it didn’t stick, it crumbled, probably due to the lack of eggs?

    I probably won’t make these again, but I really applaud the combination matcha + white chocolate!