Espresso-Chocolate Shortbread Cookies
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Espresso-Chocolate Shortbread Cookies

Now that it’s officially Cookie Swap season, I picked a few new recipes to try out for our Supper Club‘s annual night out/cookie & candy exchange.

This year, there were 6 different types of cookies. Each couple prepared 2 different recipes.

Thank goodness for yoga pants.

Espresso-Chocolate Shortbread Cookies

I had pinned these cookies from Smitten Kitchen yeeeeears ago, and finally got around to whipping up a batch. This may have been the best smelling cookie dough I’ve ever encountered.

Or I’m just hooked on the smell of espresso. And quality chocolate. And cookie dough.

You get the point.

These cookies were beyond fabulous! They’re delicate yet rich, and have the perfect balance of bittersweet chocolate and espresso. It was hard not to QC half of the batch before we even headed out to dinner.

I liked the method of rolling out the dough inside of a freezer bag, but my dough was too sticky to be able to lift the bag off to get rid of the creases. I tried, but it wasn’t pretty…

The shortbread dough was a bit tricky to cut evenly, so I got quite a range of sizes, despite my best efforts to measure the squares evenly and mark it before cutting. Math was never my strong suit.

That just means 3 small cookies are the same as 1 big one, so you can totally eat more in one sitting, right?

Make these cookies. On the double! Oooh… a double espresso with these would be a fantastic idea…

Espresso-Chocolate Shortbread Cookies

Espresso-Chocolate Shortbread Cookies
Smitten Kitchen (Adapted from Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan)

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.

Big Flavors Rating: 5 Stars

Ashley Covelli is a food photographer, recipe developer, and culinary instructor based in Ossining, New York. She loves helping people become enthusiastic and adventurous in the kitchen so that they can build skills and confidence to cook for themselves and their loved ones. She can almost always be found with at least 3 different beverages within arm's reach.

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