It’s an exciting day of firsts for me. This is my first post I’ve written since moving (to my first place I’ve rented away from home since college), of my first time using matcha in baked goods. I never thought these Matcha Cookie Christmas Tree Stacks would turn out so perfectly on my first go, but what do you know? It’s a Christmas miracle! I didn’t have to tweak a single thing.
And they wound up being such a hit that I’ll be making another few batches as simple Christmas presents this year. And saving some for myself, of course.
“Matcha” is a powder that is made from finely ground green tea leaves. It is naturally quite green due to high amounts of chlorophyll, making it perfect for food-dye-free baking. Flavor-wise, is earthy, rich, and slightly sweet.
For drinking in its traditional form, you’ll generally want your matcha to be delicate and light, but for baking, cooking-grade matcha is the way to go. Cooking-grade matcha has much stronger of a tea-taste, which allows you to add in plenty of other ingredients (such as sugar, flour, eggs, and so on) without overriding all of the green tea flavor in your baked goods, and it also happens to be less expensive. My matcha was kindly supplied by Aiya America, who are the sponsors behind today’s post. All opinions and recipes are my own, of course.
With its sweet, slightly bitter, and complex flavors, matcha does best in simple baking recipes, so I decided to incorporate it into buttery shortbread cookies. Unlike the majority of Christmas cookies you’ll see at your company cookie exchange, these aren’t chock full of chocolate (although I do have a recipe coming up next week if that’s your sort of thing), or slathered in icing. They’re extremely flavorful despite the lack of bells, whistles, and mix-ins, because matcha itself carries such depth.
So instead of relying on crazy icing designs to make my cookies pretty, I decided to stack ’em up into pretty Christmas tree bundles. To do this, I used 4 different-sized snowflake cookie cutter shapes, from this set. You could also use different-sized star cookie cutters, if you prefer. I rolled out my dough, cut out 2 large, 2 medium, 3 small, and 2 tiny snowflakes to form each stack. All together, I was able to make 10 Christmas tree stacks from one batch of dough.
When baked, the cookies hold their shape well, but puff up just enough to make the stacks look tree-like. When you take them out of the oven, they will be much puffier and not completely set, but after letting them cool on the tray for 10 minutes, they will settle and finish cooking so that they can be moved without breaking apart. Taking the cookies out early gives them a better, softer texture in the end, so don’t be tempted to leave them in too long!
Once the cookies have set, I stack them up, sprinkle them with powdered sugar, and use melted white chocolate to stick an almond on top as a Christmas tree topper.
Then I either serve them or wrap them up in cellophane to give out as gifts. It’s as simple and delicious as that! My mom took this batch to her coworkers and was getting messages all day about how much they loved them.
If you’re looking for something different for your cookie round-up this year, definitely give these Matcha Cookie Christmas Tree Stacks a try. Don’t forget to take a picture and tag #hostthetoast on Instagram or Twitter to show off your Christmas creations!
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
- 2 tablespoons Aiya Cooking Grade Matcha
- 1½ cups granulated sugar
- 1 large egg plus 1 egg yolk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2½ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- Powdered sugar, to top
- ¼ cup white chocolate chips, melted
- 10 whole almonds, to top
- In a large bowl, beat together the butter, matcha, and sugar until fluffy. Add in the egg, egg yolk, and vanilla extract, and mix until just combined.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix until no clumps remain.
- Cover the dough and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Slice the dough in half or quarters and roll out to about ⅙ - ¼ inch thickness. Cut out stars or snowflakes in graduated shapes- 2 large, 2 medium, 3 small, and 2 tiny per stack.
- Bake each batch for 7 minutes, or until the edges are settled but the top is still puffed and not set. Let cool completely on the tray before handling, about 10 minutes. Continue until all of the cookies have been baked.
- Stack the cookies into the Christmas trees and sprinkle with powdered sugar.
- In a microwave safe bowl, heat the white chocolate chips in the microwave for 20 seconds. Stir well and heat again for another 20 seconds. Stir until all of the white chocolate has melted. Using a spoon, drop a small bit of white chocolate on the top of a Christmas tree cookie stack and place an almond in the center. Repeat for all of the cookie stacks.
- Wrap in cellophane or serve immediately.
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