Leaf shaped black sesame cookies with matcha tea icing


[From the archives. These sesame cookies with matcha icing look and taste quite dramatic. In leaf shapes they are rather spring-like, but try simple rounds or squares for year-round appeal. Originally published in April 2007.]

Flavor wise black sesame seeds aren't that different, if at all, from white or brown sesame seeds. But there is something about their dramatic black-to-grey color that is quite exciting. At the moment I'm quite enamored with black sesame seeds, and have been using them instead of the regular brown ones in everything from sauces to salads.

These leaf shaped cookies contain toasted and ground black sesame seeds, dark brown muscovado sugar, and whole wheat flour, and are decorated with matcha (powdered tea) royal icing. The sweetness is quite restrained, both in the cookie and in the icing. You are first hit by the tea-flavored, very slightly bitter icing, followed by the nutty darkness of the cookie. It's an intriguing combination. They are a wonderful accompaniment to tea, black or green, hot or iced. If the ultimate cookie to you means something very sweet and gooey you may not like these. They are quite adult cookies.

I had to shoot the pictures in a hurry, because they were disappearing faster than almost any other cookie I've made recently.

Since I don't have a leaf shaped cookie cutter, I just made a simple paper template and cut the leaves out with a knife. You can cut them out into any shape you'd like of course, though given the coloring leaves seem appropriate. Quite spring-like, in fact.

Black sesame cookies with matcha icing

For the cookies:

  • 50g / 1.75 oz. raw black sesame seeds
  • 120g / 4.25 oz. dark brown or muscovado sugar. In Japan I would use kurozatou (黒砂糖)preferably from Okinawa.
  • 250g / 8.8 oz. whole wheat flour
  • 100g / 3.5 oz. unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 large egg
  • A few drops of pure almond extract

For the icing:

  • 8 Tbs. powdered (icing) sugar
  • 2 Tbs. matcha tea powder
  • 1 Tbs. egg white or egg white substitute

Equipment needed:

  • kitchen parchment paper or baking paper
  • cookie cutter or sharp knife and a paper template
  • mortar and pestle or suribachi for grinding the sesame seeds
  • rolling pin

Toast the sesame seeds in a small frying pan until they just start to pop. Immediately remove from the pan.

In a mortar and pestle or suribachi, or with an electric grinder, grind up the sesame seeds until they have turned into a fragrant powder.

In a bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until fluffy. Add the ground up sesame and almond extract. Beat in the egg.

Add the flour a little at a time. The dough may not form a ball - it will be a bit on the dry side. Put into a plastic zip bag, and roll flat with a rolling pin. Put in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 180°C / 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicon sheet.

Take the cookie dough out, and cut open the plastic bag with scissors. Cut out the cookies with cookie cutters or using a paper template and a sharp small knife. Place the cookies on the lined baking sheet.

Bake for 25 minutes. You may need to rotate the baking sheets once if the cookies are baking unevenly.

As the cookies area baking, make the icing. Mix together the icing (powdered) sugar and the matcha powder. Add the egg white, mixing well to a spreadable but not too thin paste.

When the cookies are baked, take them out and cool, preferably on a cooling rack. Let cool completely.

Once the cookies are cooled, spread with the icing. Let dry on the cooling rack until the icing has firmed up.

Store the cookies (if any survive that long) in a cool, dry place.



Make absolutely sure that the sesame seeds are fresh, and not rancid. Taste and sniff - if it seems even the least bit off to you, it's Not Good and has to be thrown out. The best way to store raw sesame seeds? Well wrapped, in the freezer.

If you can't get a hold of whole wheat cake flour, use regular white cake flour or all-purpose flour. Regular whole wheat flour might make the cookies a bit dry.

Use the best quality matcha you can afford - keeping in mind that matcha is not cheap at all.

You can also use white icing - mix powdered sugar with a little lemon juice and egg white to form a paste. Or, leave the cookies unadorned - they look quite interesting that way too.

(Want more matcha? Check out these matcha shortbread cookies by Clotilde on Chocolate and Zucchini.)

Filed under:  dessert japanese baking cookies favorites tea

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I had never tried making cookies before but was rather tempted and tried your recipe. They came out so delicious! Thank you so much! I made mine mini cookies with easter molds and I was very happy as how well they came out. They are sweet though. I love sweet but was surprised because of your comment. I look forward to more of your recipes. I have done three so far and all have come out delicious:).

Just because of that pic I went to our local Asian food market and got some matcha powder and black sesame seeds. I didn't ask for muscovado sugar, but
I have palm sugar and dark brown sugar. So I get to try this with both of them! I love your blog and have enjoyed reading your recipes and food adventures.
Please continue. This is so much fun!

Thank you so much for sharing this recipe. I made these 2 days ago and they turned out amazing.

Thank you for sharing this recipe.

I was wondering, would pre-toasted sesame seeds work as well as raw ones? It's difficult for me to get raw sesame seeds, but the international aisle of my big grocery store has white and black irigoma.

I wouldn't rule it out totally, but since the irigoma are already roasted, the sesame may get over-roasted if you bake it as long. So you may have to adjust the baking time. (You may want to look in a health food store for raw sesame seeds.)

Have you tried substituting black sesame paste for some of the seeds in this recipe?

I love this recipe! I used a large (but they're still pretty teeny) flower shaped vegetable cutter so they would come out small and delicate, and I wasn't disappointed at all with the results!

They're crisp and have a texture similar to that of a granola bar - which I love! No icing was needed - they're plenty sweet! Possibly the only thing I did differently was take them out about 5 minutes early so they wouldn't become too hard. Still, they're lightly toasted and have a wonderfully pleasant chew! OH! And I didn't have that fancy sugar, either - I just used dark brown sugar, and it worked perfectly! ^_^

Nice recipe! I'll make it again the next time I want to give a gift to a friend!

and they smell unbelievable! :0)

Hi. These cookies look lovely! I am just about to make them - do you roll the cookie dough thinly or is it rather thick?

Hi Mia, I roll them out rather thin, about 1/4 cm or 1/8 of an inch or so.

I love black sesame in desserts. Paired with matcha? Perfect combo :) So dying to try this soon!

Mmmmmmm, 'adult cookies' - I've been puzzling over the perfect present to bake for someone who like cakes etc but doesn't have a ridiculously sweet tooth and these seem perfect!

I just found your blog and it is great. These cookies look wonderful. I will definitely try them soon. I am a huge black sesame fan.

oh these look yummy, they remind me of when i went to a green tea field in South Korea.
Check out my food blog and tell me what you think:


Interesting looking cookies. I know they are supposed to be spring looking cookies but to me with the color of the icing, they look more fall-like. I think they would be a great treat for Thanksgiving dinner. Casino en ligne gratuit

oh yummy black sesame & green tea are my fav flavours :)

but i have never cooked with them before.. so thanks for the recipe :)

I don't have a food scale. Would you please be able to estimate the amounts in measuring cups/spoons? I would love to make these!!!

Hi Amy
Although you won't find the answer you're looking for, a very similar question was posted in the forum recently as well as Maki's reasons for not publishing estimates for this recipe:

I really want to try these cookies, since I love these flavors. Can you tell me if whole wheat pastry flour is the same thing as whole wheat cake flour? I've searched online but can't find consensus. Also, did you mean to put "whole wheat cake flour" in the ingredients list instead of "whole wheat flour"?

I was hoping to use the crushed sesame seeds I got at Mitsuwa for this recipe (package reads "katagi yuki suri goma kuro"). Are these suitable? Should I skip the toasting step?

Thank you for your advice!

Pastry flour and cake flour are the same - low-gluten flours used for making cakes and pastries (vs. bread or 'strong' flour that is used for bread).

I guess you can give the crushed sesame seeds a try, as long as they don't have salt or anything added to them. You may need to adjust the amounts.

I finally tried these out today and they turned out very delicous. Only one question: are you sure about the amount of matcha powder? Two tablespoons seemed a huge amount to me and I ended up using something like just a teaspoon of it and the icing still came out bright green and nicely tea flavored.

These look fantastic! I was just wondering - would tahini be an acceptable substitute for ground sesame seeds? And would I have to increase the amount of flour or dry ingredients to keep the same texture?

I've been addicted to both your sites since I stumbled across Just Hungry looking for tamagoyaki instructions. Thanks so much for all your wonderful recipes!

Tahini would be too liquid and oily, and not have that little bit of crunch which makes these so good. I would recommend using sesame seeds if at all possible. Using tahini would probably require the addition of other things, and change the texture a lot. Glad you like the sites! ^_^


I just made - a variation of - your beautiful cookies and wrote about it on my blog (in Danish)! Very easy and exotic at the same time. Thanks for the recipe and great inspiration!

Lise, Denmark

They look great! I haven't made these in a while so maybe it's time to make them again ^_^