My school is putting on a competition to select the tastiest student-designed cookie. they have to draw inspiration from a specific country. I’ve known since I heard about it that I wanted to do Japan, and that the flavors I wanted to incorporate were matcha (green tea) and cherry (in honor of sakura/cherry blossoms). So, the question became, how should I incorporate those flavors into my cookie?
There are several different ways to infuse flavor. The one we’ve done most commonly is through milk and/or heavy cream – heat the dairy, then add something containing the flavor you want to infuse (ie, basil leaves for basil, cinnamon sticks for cinnamon, tea leaves for tea), remove from heat, and then allow it to steep (covered!!) for at least an hour. This was how I made a basil creme anglais sauce on Monday, for example. However, milk is not a common cookie ingredient, as milk adds a LOT of liquid to something that ya need to have be solid!
I could, in this case, use matcha powder. A lot of the time with cookies, we add the flavor by adding the item directly to the batter – such as extracts, cocoa powder, etc. In this case, I decided not to do that for two reasons – first, that the grocery store near me almost certainly didn’t sell matcha powder and I didn’t have time to go elsewhere (I was right, they didn’t), and second, I was worried about the proportions. If you add a dry or a liquid to a batter, you have to consider how that effects moisture levels, etc. For example, if you want to add cocoa powder to a recipe, you typically remove 10% of the flour and replace that with an equal amount cocoa powder. (you often add baking soda too, for science). I theorized I could probably use a similar conversion for matcha powder, but I didn’t really have the time or the money (to spend on additional ingredients) that the fiddling would have required.
It next occurred to me that I might be able to infuse the flavor in butter. When we made puff pastry, for example, adding flavor to it involved incorporating the flavoring into the butter. This is how we made chocolate puff pastry – cocoa powder + butter – but it could also be used to make, say, almond puff pastry – almond paste or almond extract + butter – or green tea butter – matcha powder + butter. However, I still didn’t have matcha powder. So, I turned to the internet for help! Cause I was sure this was possible, I just wanted to get some ideas as to how.
I found this, a very easy, simple tutorial on how to infuse tea flavor into butter. All you have to do is melt the butter over low/medium heat, add 2 g of tea per tablespoon of butter (so I did 1 cup/16 tablespoons of tea, and added 32 g of tea) and allow it to steep for a few minutes. Then, strain out the leaves, cool the butter, and voila! You have tea-butter. (there’s a more detailed tutorial on the page I linked to). So, I present, my matcha butter!
It was very easy and very effective. The only problem that I ran into was that I didn’t really have a small enough strainer, so some tea bits made it through, but I was able to remove most of that, and my final batter tastes REALLY strongly of green tea, it’s awesome. (I have to bake them today…)
So yeah. I see no reason this couldn’t be done with other flavors, such as cinnamon or nuts, and I definitely plan to try, because it worked very well.