I always long for the cherry blossoms season in D.C., and better yet, Japan. The magnificent carpet of pink is the most convincing sign of Spring's arrival. Fortunately, even the photos of cherry blossoms are breath taking, cause there's a sniffling catch for many of us -- spring allergies.
So, as I continue to admire the cherry blossoms from afar -- really afar -- I baked myself a little something to get a sense of that landscape -- delicate matcha cookies with the lightness of blossoms. Notes of citrus give a pop of freshness, and the raspberry filling adds a touch of fruity sweetness. Decorate them if you wish, or eat them plain. May I suggest a nice cup of tea to complete the experience?
Blossom Cookies aka Matcha Almond Cookies
Yield: About 6 dozen cookies
1 large egg yolk, room temperature
1 tablespoon heavy cream
3/4 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 cup (1-1/2 ounces) sliced almonds
2 tablespoons matcha powder
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (10 ounces)
2/3 cup (4-3/4 ounces) granulated sugar
1 tablespoon lemon zest, freshly grated
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
16 tablespoons (8 ounces/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
Raspberry Filling, recipe to follow
1. Adjust oven rack to middle position; heat oven to 375℉. In small bowl, beat yolk, cream, and almond extract with fork until combined; set aside. Add almonds, matcha powder, and three tablespoons of flour in food processor; pulse until finely grind, about 1 minute. Combine almond mixture with remaining flour in a medium bowl and set aside.
2. In the bowl of stand mixer, fitted with paddle attachment, beat sugar, lemon zest and salt at medium speed until combined and resembles wet sand. Add butter, beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about three minutes. Scrape down bowl with rubber spatula. With mixer running at medium speed, add yolk/cream mixture and beat until incorporated. Scrape down bowl. With mixer running at low speed, gradually beat in flour-almond mixture until combined. Scrape down bowl and give final stir with rubber spatula.
3. Using cookie press to form cookies, follow manufacturer's instructions to fill press. Press cookies onto ungreased baking sheets, spacing them about one inch apart. Bake one sheet at a time until cookies are slightly golden brown, eight to 10 minutes, rotating baking sheet halfway through baking time. Cool cookies on baking sheet for 10 minutes; using metal spatula, transfer to wire rack and cool to room temperature.
8 tablespoons (4 ounces/1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
4 cups (16 ounces) confectioners' sugar
1/2 cup raspberry preserves
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1. In the bowl of stand mixer, fitted with paddle attachment, beat butter and salt on medium-high speed until creamy, about one minute. Reduce speed to low and add confectioners' sugar, a little at a time, until combined. Increase speed to medium and beat for 30 sec. Scrape down bowl if necessary.
2. Add preserves and vanilla and beat until fully incorporated. Chill filling in refrigerator for 30 minutes.
1/4 cup (1 ounces) confectioner's sugar (optional)
Yellow sugar pearls (optional)
1. Spread one teaspoon of filling on bottom of half of cookies, then press remaining cookies onto filling to form sandwiches.
1. Dust cookies with confectioners' sugar.
2. In a small bowl, mix one tablespoon of confectioners' sugar w a few drops of water to form a glaze. Brush center of cookies with glaze and place 3 sugar pearls in the center. Press lighting to adhere.