My neighbor Jess is a total badass. By day, she’s an animator at a major motion picture studio; by night, she repairs bicycles and makes pots for her succulent plants out of concrete and old buckets. And as if that wasn’t enough, she’s also a talented baker, with a particular knack for delicate and sophisticated cookies. She makes adorable bite-sized macarons that could make you weep, they’re so perfect. (She showed me how. I tried. I can’t make ‘em like she can.)
I will forever be indebted to Jess for two things. First, for introducing me to matcha, or finely ground green tea. I’d heard of matcha before, mostly in the context of making green tea-flavored sweets, but Jess was the one who finally inspired me to go out and buy some. It’s certainly pricey–mine cost $8 an ounce–but a little goes a long way. Traditionally, matcha is whisked into hot water to form a frothy, intensely green tea. I used some of mine this way recently when I was fighting off a cold, and the thick forested punch it gave seemed to knock the bug right out of my system. But really, I bought matcha to use it in cookies, which leads to the second reason I’m indebted to Jess.
A couple months ago, we got together for a lazy Sunday of baking, tea, and chitchat. We made a tomato tart, baked peaches, and then Jess started gathering ingredients for cookies. “Green tea chocolate chip,” she said. “I just use the recipe on the back of the Nestle bag, but I replace two tablespoons of the flour with matcha.” The dough mixed up bright green, almost alien-like; when it baked, the cookies took on an eerie moss-toned color. At first bite, I thought I was just tasting an ordinary cookie–but then the flavor of the green tea slowly took hold, blossoming grassy and slightly bitter through the rich goo of the chocolate chips. It stunned me. I thought about those cookies for days.
I’ve since made these cookies for myself several times, tinkering a bit to find a balance I like. For me, that includes a dose of whole wheat flour to offset the grassiness with nuttiness, as well as almond extract in place of vanilla. These seem like an ideal Halloween cookie, green and spooky as they are, but with enough subtlety to please adults as well as children.
Thank you, Jess, for bringing these cookies into my life.
Green Tea Chocolate Chip Cookies (makes about 3 dozen cookies)
Adapted from Nestle Toll House, via my neighbor Jess
Note: For testing this recipe, I used a “medium” (#40) cookie scoop, which has a capacity of 1 1/2 tbsp. You can easily make them larger or smaller, but keep in mind that the yield and bake time will vary.
1 cup + 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 tbsp matcha (unsweetened green tea powder)
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 cup (2 sticks/8 oz/16 tbsp) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup lightly packed brown sugar
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp almond extract
1 (12 oz) bag semisweet chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350º F. In a medium mixing bowl, combine all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour, matcha, baking soda, and salt. Whisk to combine, and set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, cream together butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar until smooth. Beat in eggs, one at a time, followed by almond extract. Add dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Fold in chocolate chips. (At this point, the dough can be covered with plastic wrap and refrigerated for up to 2 days.)
Scoop the cookies onto ungreased baking sheets, leaving 2 inches space between them (see note). Bake for 12-14 minutes, or until the cookies are set on top but still slightly soft in the middle. Remove from the oven and let cool for about 5 minutes on the pans, then transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.
Once the cookie dough is mixed, it can be covered and refrigerated for up to 2 days. You can also scoop the cookies onto a baking sheet and freeze them until they’re solid, then transfer them to a zip-top bag and freeze for up to 2 months. You can bake frozen cookies directly from the freezer; the baking time will be a minute or two longer.