Buttery matcha shortbread is topped with a layer of creamy strawberry panna cotta for a sweet matcha dessert. It’s the perfect Asian fusion dessert for matcha and strawberry lovers!
These matcha strawberry cream bars are made with a simple 5-ingredient shortbread base and topped with a luscious, rich layer of strawberry cream. With their pretty pastel green and pink colors, these bars make me think of sipping a fresh cup of matcha under beautiful, blooming pink cherry blossoms. It’s a lovely spring dessert to welcome a new season.
How to make matcha strawberry cream bars
This treat is simple to pull together, with minimal hands-on time. The majority of the time will be spent waiting for the cream layer to set in the fridge.
There are 3 overall steps to making this dessert:
- Make the matcha shortbread using butter, sugar, vanilla extract, all purpose flour, and matcha
- Make the strawberry cream using heavy whipping cream, gelatin, sugar, strawberry jam, vanilla, and salt. This will be done on the stove.
- Combine the cream and shortbread and let set in the fridge for 4 hours.
Tips for perfect matcha shortbread
The matcha shortbread is a straightforward shortbread recipe with vanilla added for extra flavor.
- Make sure your butter is at room temperature, so the ingredients combine smoothly
- I use salted butter, but you can use unsalted butter plus 1/2 tsp of salt if you prefer.
- Make sure to spread the dough firmly and evenly across the baking tin.
- Use matcha that is culinary grade so that the flavor comes through and the color stays a rich, vibrant green. I like to use this matcha powder by Jade Leaf Matcha.
What’s the difference between ceremonial and culinary grade matcha?
Ceremonial grade matcha is made for drinking plain and is made from the highest quality tea leaves. It’s more concentrated than culinary grade matcha and has a more delicate flavor.
Culinary grade matcha is designed specifically for cooking and baking. It’s usually made with lower quality leaves and has a more robust flavor so it comes through when paired with other flavors. Culinary grade matcha is perfect for this bake.
You can use ceremonial grade matcha instead of culinary grade, but it tends to be more expensive so I wouldn’t recommend it.
Tips for luscious strawberry panna cotta (cooked cream)
The strawberry cream layer is inspired by a classic Italian dessert, panna cotta. Panna cotta means “cooked cream,” which is exactly what we’ll be doing in this step – cooking the cream on the stove. A packet of gelatin powder helps create a smooth texture and allows the cream layer to set firmly in the fridge. Never used gelatin before? Don’t worry! It’s super easy and you have nothing to be worried about.
How to use gelatin
This recipe calls for one standard packet of gelatin ( 2 1/4 tsp). You can find gelatin in your local grocery store, typically in the baking aisle next to the Jell-O. Make sure to get unflavored – I use this one by Knox. Using gelatin is straightforward – first, you dissolve it in water so it, and then you mix it into the cream. Here’s an overview with some tips:
- First, “bloom’ the gelatin – sprinkle the gelatin powder evenly over the surface of 1/4 cup of water. Make sure to evenly distribute it so the granules are able to absorb the water properly. Do not dump all the powder in the middle of the water – this will lead to the granules not dissolving properly.
- Add the bloomed gelatin to the cream while the cream is warm, so that it melts in smoothly
- Don’t rush the setting process – the gelatin needs time to firm up. Cutting in too early can lead to the bars collapsing.
Tips for combining the cream and shortbread layers
Once you have both the shortbread and cream, you want to gently pour the cream over the shortbread. At this step, it’s crucial that the shortbread and the cream are both not too hot. Otherwise, the hot cream can dissolve the shortbread and you won’t get clearly defined layers.
I recommend putting the shortbread layer in the fridge to quickly cool down while you cook the cream. I also recommend letting the cream cool for 2 – 3 minutes before pouring it onto the shortbread. As soon as you’ve poured the cream, you want to quickly transfer the pan into the fridge to cool down and set.
Each bite of these bars is full of melt-in-your-mouth cream and buttery shortbread. The earthy matcha flavors go perfectly with the burst of sweet strawberry. I hope you love this delicious spring dessert as much as I do!
Other Asian fusion recipes to try:
- Japanese baked cheese tarts (Bake and Pablo dupe)
- Red bean bread with matcha glaze
- Scallion milk bread
If you make this recipe, please let me know! I always love to see what my readers are baking. You can comment below or tag me on Instagram @halicopteraway.
Matcha strawberry cream bars
- 9 x 9 inch baking pan
- Hand or stand mixer
- Parchment paper
- 3/4 cup (170g) salted butter, room temperature
- 1/4 cup (50g) granulated sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 cups (180g) all purpose flour
- 1 tbsp matcha
- 1/4 cup (60g) cold water
- 2 1/4 tsp powdered gelatin (one standard packet)
- 2 cups (480g) heavy cream
- 1 tbsp granulated sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 4 tbsp strawberry jam
- Pink or red food dye (optional)
- 4 strawberries, sliced thinly (optional)
- Preheat oven to 325°F and line a 9 x 9 inch baking tin with parchment paper, making sure it's pressed closely against the sides of the tin. The parchment paper should extend at least 1 inch up the sides of the tin.
- In a medium bowl, use a hand mixer or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment to cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla and mix until incorporated. Add the flour and matcha powder and mix on medium speed until a cohesive dough forms.
- Press the dough evenly onto the bottom of the tin, making sure to press against the sides of the tin so that there is no space between the parchment paper and the dough. I like to use a metal measuring cup to flatten the dough evenly. Use a fork to poke holes across the surface of the dough.
- Bake for 18 – 20 minutes until lightly browned. It'll be soft and puffy when you take it from the oven and will solidify as it cools. Remove from the oven and place in the fridge to cool while you make the strawberry cream.
- Place 1/4 cup of water in a bowl. Sprinkle the surface of the water with gelatin powder and leave to bloom.
- In a medium skillet, add heavy cream, granulated sugar, vanilla, salt, and strawberry jam. Place on the stove over medium heat, stirring constantly until the sugar and the jam have dissolved. This should take about 5 minutes. Do not let the cream come to a boil. Mix in a dab of pink or red food coloring to help create a more vivid pastel pink.
- Remove the skillet from the heat and stir in the gelatin until it dissolves. Let cool for 2 – 3 minutes.
- Remove the matcha shortbread from the fridge. It should be firm to the touch. Gently and slowly pour the strawberry cream on top of the matcha shortbread. Carefully transfer the tin to the fridge and let set for at least 4 hours.
Cut and serve
- Once the bars are set, cut into 16 equal pieces. Top with a sprinkle of matcha powder and sliced strawberries.
- Store any leftover bars in airtight containers in the fridge.
- You can replaced salted butter with unsalted butter and 1/2 tsp of salt
- You want the shortbread to be relatively cooled and firm before you pour on the cream. Putting it in the fridge helps get it to the right temperature.
- It’s important to be gentle when pouring the cream onto the shortbread. If you pour too forcefully, the cream can create a hole in the shortbread, which will lead to messy layers.