21 Dec Cranberry & White Chocolate Matcha Shortbread Sandwich Cookies
Behold, my first Christmas cookie recipe of the year! I’m late. Super, super, disappointingly late. At one point, I wasn’t quite sure I we were going to get here — I was having worst baker of the year nightmares, because really, when you have a blog dedicated to butter there are certain expectations for this time of year. Lofty ones, I might add. But at least I showed up to the party, yeah? Here I am, reputation intact. *fist bump*
It’s finally begun to feel like Christmas around these parts. I just wrapped up my last work trip of the month (Indianapolis, you were painfully chilly in the best, most holiday-ish way possible), my college-relic Walmart tree is back it it’s cozy corner of the condo, decked with a motley crew of ornaments and knick-knacks, and the kitchen counter is almost completely covered in Amazon boxes and jolly red cookies tins (thanks, Mom). Things are looking up! And awfully cheery!
So, when cookie time is scarce but necessary, what does one choose to dedicate precious baking resources to? The classics, obviously. And I did.
I was able to fine some time last, last Saturday to head home and hammer out a couple batches of my mom’s famous fudge and peppermint meringues — the two quintessential holiday treats of my childhood. There was also eggnog and bourbon and definitely-not-Walmart (but still plastic) tree trimming. My insides feel all warm & cozy just thinking about it now.
But then, when I’d crossed the necessaries off the list, I wanted to get a little creative. That’s where these matcha shortbread sandwiches come in. The shortbread base stays true to its roots — butter, powdered sugar, flour — but with a hint of cooking grade matcha to add a little holiday flare and earthiness to shortbread’s buttery simplicity.
For some time I’ve been gazing all starry eyed at the cover of the Holiday 2015 issue of Sift Magazine — which I am so freaking excited to have been featured in (!!!, srsly, pinch me + see the online article here) — dreaming about powdered sugar-dusted sandwich cookies so, shortbread sandwiches seemed like the obvious way to go. YES, PLZ.
For the filling, we have not one, but two layers of sinful goodness. First, I concocted a homemade cranberry jam from fresh berries (none of that canned stuff), orange peel and spices — the result is a lightly sweet and tart topping for cookies/cornbread/cakes with just a touch of warm, wintery spice. The slight pucker from the cranberries adds a lovely contrast to the deep earthiness of the matcha, while the citrus and spice mingle in the background to add another layer of complexity.
Under the cranberry jam, I added a healthy smear of white chocolate ganache for both added sweetness and body. This step is optional but recommended for those of you with a monster sweet tooth, like myself. Without the white chocolate ganache, the sandwiches are more dainty and light, perfect for snacking on with a cup of tea. With the white chocolate, these guys stand on their own as dessert. Pick your own adventure, either way you’ll be without regrets!
One more thing! For this recipe, I used Aiya’s Cooking Grade Matcha. It was my first time using this kind of matcha, and I’m absolutely smitten. It’s designed specifically for cooking & baking so it has a slightly stronger flavor that the drinking variety. This is good news for us because this means we can use less matcha without sacrificing flavor — and as you may know, matcha sticker-shock is a real thing. This bag will easily last me the next year’s worth of matcha recipes, which means both my wallet and my tummy are doing a happy dance. You can find Aiya online here.
Thanks to Aiya Matcha for sponsoring this post! While the matcha is theirs, all opinions are my own, and I strive to only share the best with you guys!
- 12 oz. fresh cranberries
- 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
- 1 2-inch orange peel
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 3/4 cup water
- 1 tablespoon light corn syrup (optional)
- 4 oz. white chocolate
- 2 oz. heavy cream
- 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling out the dough
- 2 tablespoons cooking grade matcha powder (preferably Aiya)
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 large egg yolk
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- In a food processor, grind the cranberries to a fine consistency.
- Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan and set side to rest for 10 minutes. After resting, turn the heat up to medium and bring the mixture to a boil, stirring frequently.
- Reduce heat to simmer and allow the jam to cook for 30-35 minutes or until thick.
- Remove the orange peel and cinnamon stick and set aside to let cool completely before using.
- Place the chopped white chocolate in a heatproof bowl.
- Heat the cream either in the microwave or small saucepan until just slightly simmering.
- Remove from the heat and pour over the white chocolate. Let sit for 30 seconds to melt the chocolate then stir until smooth. Let sit at room temperature to thicken before using.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour and the matcha until well blended. Set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, beat the butter until smooth - about 2 minute. Add the confectioners' sugar and mix until smooth. Beat in the vanilla extract.
- Add the flour & matcha mixture and mix until just incorporated, and a dough comes together.
- Divide the dough in half. On a well-floured sheet of parchment, roll out half of the dough to about 1/8-inch thick. Life the dough using the parchment and place on a baking sheet. Put the refrigerator to chill and repeat with the other half of the dough.
- Chill the dough for about 30 minutes or until firm. When firm, remove one sheet of dough and cut out cookies using a floured cookie cutter. Place cookie cutouts onto a baking sheet lined with parchment, about two inches apart.
- Repeat until all of the dough is used, then, if you'd like your jam to show through, cut out smaller shapes from the middle of half of the cookies for the tops of the sandwiches (optional).
- Place into the refrigerator to chill again, and preheat the oven to 325F.
- Bake the cookies, one sheet at a time, 15-17 minutes or until firm and just barely golden. Cool completely on a wire rack.
- Spread a thin layer of white chocolate on each of the cookie bottoms, then spread another thin layer of cranberry jam on top of that.
- Place another cookie (one with a window if you chose to cut those out) on top and press together very gently (shortbread will be fragile).
- Dust powdered sugar over the top of the sandwiches.
- Store in an airtight container.