March 23, 2015
biscuits de thé vert
I’ve often tripped over cultural traditions. Maybe not tripped. More like falling face down with a thud. It usually happens just when I think I have mastered a tradition. Then the traditions get tweaked or modified or scrapped or reinvented. I’m confused, but these things always confuse me.
When I was small I was told it was not my place to question why. When I became an adult, I was told it was not polite to question people. Anybody who knows me knows that I can’t help myself. I’m a curious person, I want to know why. After you answer my question, I’ll be like a three‑year old and question your answer. I’ll ask a number of people the same question to see if their answers match yours. My inquiring mind is always questioning.
I also question traditions. I don’t ask whether a tradition is good or bad, but can I somehow understand it. Why do people follow the tradition. I especially question traditions that seem to be different for every person who goes along with the tradition. More so if the tradition is a ritual.
I’m not against rituals as such. I have my own personal rituals, especially first thing in the morning. I have kitchen rituals. I have car rituals. The one common thread in these rituals is that they are mine. They are not society’s rituals. Other people’s rituals, like celebrating birthdays or watching the Super Bowl, are not my rituals. Multiple double espressos throughout the day is more my ritual.
Part of my fascination with Japan is their traditions and rituals, but I have never been able to understand the subtleties. I can appreciate an exquisite flower arrangement, but I’ll never understand it’s symbolism. I can appreciate a well‑executed brush painting, but I’ll never understand what it’s trying to communicate. I can appreciate a well‑tended traditional garden, but I’ll never understand why it’s arranged the way it is.
Not only will I never understand the rituals and traditions of the Japanese tea ceremony, but I think, unlike other things Japanese, I’ll never even learn to appreciate it. I’ve only been the recipient of a tea ceremony a couple of times. From what I can tell they were both expertly done. On me they were wasted. The tea, a special kind of powered, green tea called matcha (抹茶), was too bitter and the little sweets too little.
For some odd reason, I seem to have a number of one‑ounce cans of matcha in residence in my highest cupboard. I would never use the stuff as a beverage, but every so often, it becomes an ingredient in something more solid. That was the case with the Green‑Tea Mochi  I presented a few months back. Now I’m making a green‑tea cookie with white chocolate in the center.
50 g (13⁄4 oz)
25g (7⁄8 oz)
light brown sugar
25 g (scant 1 oz)
80 g (213⁄16 oz)
1. Cream the butter and brown sugar together. Beat in the egg and the vanilla extract. Combine the flour, matcha, baking powder, and salt in a strainer. Sift the dry ingredients into the wet ones. Stir the mixture with a spatula until it comes together into a ball. Wrap the ball in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for an hour or so for the dough to hydrate.
2. Preheat your oven to 170 °C (340 °F). Prepare a baking sheet with a silicone pan liner.
3. Using a 1‑T scoop, take scoops of dough and roll each roughly into a small ball. Press a white‑chocolate disk into the dough, and form the dough around it. The disk should be evenly encapsulated.
4. Arrange the cookies on the baking sheet. They shouldn’t spread much during baking. Bake the cookies until their bottoms start to brown, about 12 minutes. Let the cookies rest and firm up for a couple of minutes on the baking sheet before moving them to a cooling rack.
Note: These cookies freeze very nicely.
Yield: about 18 cookies.