125g unsalted butter, softened
45g icing sugar
150g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
50g finely ground almond meal
4 teaspoons matcha (green tea powder, see note below), plus extra for dusting
½ teaspoon natural vanilla extract
2 teaspoons egg white or water
4 tablespoons icing sugar

My mother’s best friend, Haruko, was a great cookie baker and made exceptional Christmas cookies. One day she asked my mother and me if we could make the cookies she bakes every Christmas to give to friends and family, as she was feeling too weak to do them – she was battling cancer. These melt-in-the-mouth cookies are just the kind of thing Obaachan would have served with a cup of tea in one of the beautiful Wedgwood teacups from her precious collection. I like these with quite a lot of matcha, but you can use a little less for paler cookies and a more delicate flavour.

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1.Beat the butter until creamy and smooth, then add the other ingredients and combine to make a smooth, soft dough.
2.Wrap in plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes if it is a bit too soft.
3.Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface to about 8mm thick.
4.Cut out shapes with a cookie cutter and place on a baking tray lined with baking paper.
5.If you are making these on a warm day, it is a good idea to put them in the fridge to chill for at least 20 minutes before baking.
6.Preheat the oven to 160°C.
7.Bake for 12–13 minutes, or until the cookies are still pale but dry to the touch.
8.Remove from the oven and leave to cool for 5 minutes on the baking tray before moving to a wire rack.
9.In the meantime, make the icing by mixing the egg white or water, little by little, into the icing sugar until you have a thick but smooth paste.
10.Ice the cookies as you wish and dust over some matcha powder. Let them set, then store in an airtight container.
11.I love these the next day, as they soften more and almost melt in the mouth.

This is an edited extract
from Gohan by Emiko
Davies, published by
Smith Street Books,
distributed by Thames
& Hudson Australia,
NZD$55, available
now. Photography ©
Emiko Davies, Hana
Davies & Yuki Sugiura