This past weekend, my son gifted me with some Japanese matcha that he bought on a recent business trip to Japan. I’ve long been interested in using matcha in smoothies, cooking, and baking; with this gift I have no more reason to put off experimenting with it. Matcha, green tea leaves that have been ground into a fine powder, is a popular superfood. Although it has ceremonial, religious value in Japan, people in general value it because it is an antioxidant that also contains vitamin C, selenium, chromium, zinc and magnesium. Additionally, matcha contains L-theanine, an amino acid that naturally occurs in tea plants. This amino acid has a dual calming and energizing effect on people who ingest the tea.
Matcha differs from conventional green tea in that farmers deprive the tea plants of light by covering them the last three weeks or so before the leaves are harvested. The light deprivation causes the plants to grow larger, thinner, more flavorful leaves. At harvest time, the leaves of the tea plants are hand-picked; only the youngest leaves are chosen to be dried and ground into matcha. The care taken to grow and harvest the best quality matcha is reflected in this product’s high price.
I’m not much of a tea drinker, so even though matcha tea is purported to provide even more health benefits than conventional green tea, I’ve always been more interested in using matcha as an ingredient in baking or cooking. My incurable sweet tooth always has me looking for a health angle for foods usually considered empty calories at best, or “bad” food at worst (although I disagree that many of the foods perceived as “bad” should be considered as such, when ingredients rather than the food itself make all the difference in its quality). Sunday I received the matcha; Monday, with matcha in hand, I went through my refrigerator to see what nut / seed flours (or meal) I had that would complement the matcha as an ingredient. I decided upon cashew meal, pistachio meal, and coconut flour.
But something else . . . . something was missing. I had my flours and my matcha, but not really a plan other than to create something sweet and delicious. Hhhmmm. Maybe I should just use cardamom or cinnamon and make some sort of coffee cake . . . . then I spied my dark chocolate chips (Guittard, soy-free) and I had a culinary epiphany! Well, perhaps that statement is a tad hyperbolic, but I did quickly realize that I could make healthy chocolate chip cookies using matcha and dark chocolate chips: cookies I can give to our grandsons while reassuring their mom and dad that the treat is actually a HEALTH food! I went with my gut instinct and baked the match chocolate chip cookies. The cookies turned out perfectly and taste Heavenly. Full disclosure: I don’t know for sure how well these cookies are boosting my physiological health, but they are doing wonders for my psychological and emotional health!
Gluten-Free, Grain-Free, Soy-Free Matcha Chocolate Chip Cookies
200 g Cashew meal
60 g Pistachio meal
30 g Coconut flour
1.5 tsp baking soda
8 oz real butter (preferably grass-fed), softened
350 g organic raw sugar
2 Tbls matcha
2 large free-range eggs
11.5 oz Guittard 63% cacao chocolate chips (with sunflower lecithin)
-Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
-Combine the cashew and pistachio meals, coconut flour, baking soda, and matcha powder in a bowl. Set aside.
-With a mixer, beat the softened butter and sugar together until creamy.
-Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
-Carefully add the nut / coconut flour / matcha mixture. Mix well.
-Stir in the chocolate chips.
-Drop by spoonsful, about two inches apart, on an ungreased, or parchment covered, baking sheet.
-Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, until after having puffed up, the cookies have fallen flat and are beginning to
brown. Watch cookies carefully: nut flours burn easily.
-Let the cookies rest on the cookie sheet a couple of minutes before removing them to wire racks to cool.