shortbread, two ways

Remember when there was a month called October? No? Me neither.

Somehow we’re already half way through November, Thanksgiving and Christmas on the horizon. Also on the immediate horizon, for me anyway, JAPAN. I’m lucky enough to be traveling to Tokyo and Kyoto with my company for a week in early December. I am beyond excited for the food and for the cute. I expect nothing less than a jet-lagged haze of sensory overload.

Inspired by my upcoming trip, I decided to experiment. One half of the sablé butter cookies would be studded with cacao nibs, the other half, flavored with matcha green tea powder. I had some tea-flavored cookies while in Taipei last year, and according to my sources, the Japanese excel at French pastry and most treats in Japan have a matcha variation.

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The results are as follows: Though the green tea flavor was pleasing, earthy and delicate, it’s hard to beat chocolate. Especially when that chocolate has the crunchy texture of cacao nibs, jumping out at you as the rest of the buttery cookie melts away.

Whole Wheat Sablés with Cacao Nibs – or – Matcha Green Tea, adapted from Orangette via Alice Midrich
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 scant cup whole wheat flour
14 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/3 cup cacao nibs
OR – 2 teaspoons matcha green tea powder

In a medium bowl, mix together the flours. If you’ve decided to go the matcha route, mix in the green tea power with the flours.

In a mixer, cream the butter, sugar, salt and vanilla. Beat until the butter is smooth, but not fluffy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, and add the nibs, if using. Add the flour, and mix until just incorporated. Knead the dough with your hands a bit, to make sure the flour is fully incorporated. Form the dough into a 12″ by 2″ log and and wrap with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for a few hours, or overnight.

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Preheat your oven to 350° F. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper. Slice the cookies into 1/4″ slices and space evenly on the cookie sheet. Bake 12-14 minutes, until the cookies are light golden brown on the edges. Remove from the oven and transfer to a rack to cool completely. Store in an air-tight container, for up to 1 month. They won’t last that long.

-Emily