Amy Ho’s Matcha Neapolitan Cookies 2.0

updated Jan 21, 2021
Matcha Neapolitan Cookies 2.0

This clever twist on Neopolitatan ice cream in cookie form is flavored with two types of green tea — matcha and hojicha — and vanilla.

Makes12 to 14 cookies

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Credit: Photo: Ghazalle Badiozamani; Food Styling: Jesse Szewczyk

This recipe is part of our Quarantine Cookies package, featuring 16 of our favorite bakers and their best cookie for 2020. Check out all the amazing cookies here, and sign up here to receive one cookie recipe per day, for 20 days, straight to your inbox.

I have always had a soft spot for Neapolitan ice cream. My parents thought this was the best way to appease an indecisive child who typically preferred strawberry ice cream … except for the odd day I insisted on chocolate or vanilla. Neapolitan always gave the best of, not both, but three worlds. Despite my love for the classic flavors of Neapolitan (chocolate, strawberry, vanilla), there was always one flavor I gravitated to the least (sorry, chocolate!). Earlier this spring, I decided to create my ~dream~ version of Neapolitan, but in cookie form, except with matcha subbed for the chocolate. 

When I first made this cookie, I didn’t intend for it to be my cookie of 2020. It wasn’t until I saw people having so much fun recreating the recipe and introducing new flavor combinations that it became my favorite recipe of the year. It was SO neat to see readers start a discussion with each other in the comment section to chat about what flavors they want to experiment with next and giving each other ideas for new flavor combinations.

Since creating that cookie, its popularity has grown and I have played with many different flavor combinations since. For example, I’ve made a triple berry version with freeze-dried strawberry, raspberry, and blueberry; I created a bright and fruity one with mango, strawberry, and vanilla; and I played around with different types of loose-leaf and ground tea.

This version of the cookie is made with matcha, hojicha, and vanilla. I have always been familiar with baking with matcha, but did not start experimenting with hojicha until recently. Hojicha and matcha are both Japanese green teas, and yet there are many differences between the two. Firstly, unlike traditional Japanese green teas, hojicha has a reddish-brown color. Matcha is made by stone-grinding flat dried tea leaves, while hojicha is made by slowly roasting tightly rolled dried tea leaves and stems, resulting in a loose-leaf tea. Because of hojicha’s roasting process, the tea has a beautiful earthy flavor, which complements the grassiness of matcha beautifully. Hojicha can be left as a loose-leaf tea or ground into a fine tea powder like matcha. Like using matcha in baking, you want to use a hojicha powder to flavor the dough and not the whole tea leaves. If you can only find hojicha loose-leaf tea, you can easily turn it into a powder in a spice grinder or food processor.

For the recipe, create one batch of vanilla dough, which will act as the base for the two other flavors. Once you have created the dough, portion it out into three equal portions. Add the matcha powder into one portion, and add hojicha powder into another. Gently incorporate the powder into the doughs with a rubber spatula or spoon. The key to creating a successful tri-colored cookie is combing the three doughs well when you shape each dough ball. Don’t simply gather the three doughs in one dough ball; you want to gather the three colors of dough and roll the dough ball between the palms of your hands, so any seams or cracks are smoothed out. Rolling the dough ball in sugar before baking gives the cookie extra shine and crunch. The resulting cookie is a cookie with three distinct colors and flavors that comes together to create the perfect non-traditional Neapolitan cookie.

Credit: Photo: Ghazalle Badiozamani; Food Styling: Jesse Szewczyk

Tester’s Note

The idea of a big, buttery cookie swirled with green and earth-toned streaks, like a piece of the earth from space, was too tempting to pass up. When I tested these and tasted the dough, I was taken aback at, yes, the earthiness — even though these two teas are among my favorite flavors, they taste very intense in the unbaked dough. Fortunately, the buttery, delicate sweetness of the base dough counterbalances the bitterness of the teas — especially after baking. These cookies are delicious and sophisticated. Two tips: I recommend getting your hands into the dough to mix in the tea powders; it took some squeezing and massaging to get the powders mixed in evenly. Second, next time I make these I will make them about half the size. Less dramatic, but better for savoring their intense flavors. — Faith Durand, Editor-in-Chief

Matcha Neapolitan Cookies 2.0

This clever twist on Neopolitatan ice cream in cookie form is flavored with two types of green tea — matcha and hojicha — and vanilla.

Makes 12 to 14 cookies

Nutritional Info


  • 2 sticks

    (1 cup) unsalted butter

  • 1

    large egg

  • 1 1/2 cups

    granulated sugar, divided

  • 2 teaspoons

    vanilla extract

  • 2 cups

    plus 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    baking powder

  • 1/4 teaspoon

    baking soda

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    kosher salt

  • 2 tablespoons

    matcha powder

  • 2 tablespoons

    hojicha powder (not loose leaves)


  1. Place 2 sticks unsalted butter in the bowl of a stand mixer (or a large bowl if mixing by hand or with an electric hand mixer). Place 1 large egg on the counter, and let the butter and egg sit at room temperature until the butter is softened.

  2. Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat the oven to 350°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

  3. Add 1 1/4 cups of the granulated sugar to the butter. Beat with the paddle attachment on medium speed until smooth, about 30 seconds. Add the egg and 2 teaspoons vanilla extract and beat to combine.

  4. Place 2 cups plus 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour, 1/2 teaspoon baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon baking soda, and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt in a medium bowl and whisk to combine. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and mix on low speed until just combined and no more streaks of the flour mixture remain, about 45 seconds.

  5. Divide the dough into 3 equal portions. Add 2 tablespoons matcha powder to one bowl, 2 tablespoons hojicha powder to the next, and leave the last portion plain. Gently mix until the tea powders are combined with the dough.

  6. Take a tablespoon of each dough and combine the dough by rolling between the palms of your hands. Make sure the three doughs are combined and there are no obvious ‘seams.’

  7. Place the remaining 1/4 cup granulated sugar in a small bowl. Toss the dough balls in the sugar until coated. Place the dough balls on the prepared baking sheet, leaving 2 inches between each ball, 6 per baking sheet.

  8. Bake the cookies one sheet at a time until the edges of the cookies are light golden brown, 10 to 13 minutes. Do not overbake the cookies. Pick up the baking sheet and tap it on the oven rack to ‘de-puff’ the cookies. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for 10 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely.

Recipe Notes

Hojicha powder: Purchase hojicha powder that does not contain sweeteners or creamers. If you can only find hojicha loose leaf tea, you can easily turn it into a powder in a spice grinder or food processor.

Make ahead: The dough can be formed into balls and frozen solid (do not coat in sugar) up to 2 months. When ready to bake, coat the frozen dough balls in sugar and bake according to the recipe, adding 1 to 2 minutes bake time.

Storage: The cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature up to 4 days.