Saturday, December 15, 2007

espresso-chocolate shortbread cookies

espresso-chocolate shortbread cookies

In my mind, there are few higher callings in the baking world than cookies, and simply no higher cookie callings than shortbread, so I cannot think of a better place to start my Week-O-Cookies. They are firm enough to pack in a tin but manage to taste soft. Bites seem to dissipate in your mouth, but not so quickly that you feel you were shorted. They get better with age–and really, who doesn’t want that? And while I will never, ever (ever) complain about a plain one made with some of that Danish butter with sea salt flecks, I’m continually impressed by the myriad of ways shortbread can be adapted and still be as delicious as the original.

espresso-chocolate shortbread cookies

Dorie Greenspan’s Espresso-Chocolate Shortbread are an awesome example of this, and were the first time I have had a coffee-flavored cookie that really, truly tasted first and foremost like coffee. The tiny chocolate bits are reminiscent of Everyone’s Favorite Dorie Cookie, the World Peace variety, but even cooler in this because they’re more contrasted to the cookie flavor.

espresso-chocolate shortbread cookies espresso-chocolate shortbread cookies

But here is where I tell you the secret that I hope will blow your mind, even though I haven’t tried it myself–yet. Toffee-Coffee. I mean, how amazing would that be? Specifically I’m thinking of one of my favorite readily-available toffee chocolate bar, Ghiradelli’s Toffee Interlude. And look at that–exactly the four ounces the recipe requires! I consider it a sign, kismet.

espresso-chocolate shortbread cookies espresso-chocolate shortbread cookies

Do tell me if you try the coffee-toffee combination. Though it’s hard for me to imagine these cookies getting any better, this might be their only chance. And every cookie deserves a chance, right?

espresso-chocolate shortbread cookies

Smitten Kitchen Went to Aruba and All I Got Were These Lousy Cookies! Deb and Alex have flown the snowy, slushy and biting cold coop this week for warm, sandy island shores and countless tubes of SPF 50, so comment responses are going to be slow until they return. In our absence, we leave you with a Week of Cookies–this is recipe one of four.

cookie care packages from the smitten kitchen The Menu for Hope Campaign continues through Dec. 24, which means that you still have a chance to win a box of home baked cookies (such as these!) from the Smitten Kitchen, or one of hundreds of other prizes donated by food bloggers around the world, delivered to your doorstep. You receive one raffle ticket for a prize of your choice for each $10 donation. I’ve explained everything in detail over here.

One year ago: Zucchini Latkes

Espresso-Chocolate Shortbread Cookies
Adapted from Baking: From My Home to Yours

I have to admit that one of the coolest things about this is the rolling-in-a-bag technique. Why have I never thought of this before? This is a common refrain whenever I make Dorie recipes.

Makes 42 cookies

1 tablespoon instant espresso powder
1 tablespoon boiling water
2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate (plain, or a toffee variety), finely chopped, or 3/4 cup store-bought mini chocolate chips
Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting (optional)

1. Dissolve the espresso in the boiling water, and set aside to cool to tepid.

2. Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter and confectioners’ sugar together on medium speed for about 3 minutes, until the mixture is very smooth. Beat in the vanilla and espresso, then reduce the mixer speed to low and add the flour, mixing only until it disappears into the dough. Don’t work the dough much once the flour is incorporated. Fold in the chopped chocolate with a sturdy rubber spatula.

3. Using the spatula, transfer the soft, sticky dough to a gallon-size zipper-lock plastic bag. Put the bag on a flat surface, leaving the top open, and roll the dough into a 9 x 10 1/2 inch rectangle that’s 1/4 inch thick. As you roll, turn the bag occasionally and lift the plastic from the dough so it doesn’t cause creases. When you get the right size and thickness, seal the bag, pressing out as much air as possible, and refrigerate the dough for at least 2 hours, or for up to 2 days.

4. Position the racks to divide the oven into thirds and preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment or silicone mats.

5. Put the plastic bag on a cutting board and slit it open. Turn the firm dough out onto the board (discard the bag) and, using a ruler as a guide and a sharp knife, cut the dough into 1 1/2-inch squares. Transfer the squares to the baking sheets and carefully prick each one twice with a fork, gently pushing the tines through the cookies until they hit the sheet.

6. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, rotating the sheets from top to bottom and front to back at the midway point. The shortbreads will be very pale–they shouldn’t take on much color. Transfer the cookies to a rack.

7. If you’d like, dust the cookies with confectioners’ sugar while they are still hot. Cool the cookies to room temperature before serving.


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