You've probably seen this recipe floating about, and in case you haven't at least you have now. I came across this first on a blog, which actually prompted me to pick up Baking ~ from my home to yours by Dorie Greenspan in the first place. Obviously, it took a few recipes before I made it, but it was worth the delay. Since I haven't had the desire for a cup of coffee (ahhhhh, it's the end of the world!!!!!), I get my fix in baked forms.
A delicate, espresso-laced shortbread that's in between sandy and crispy, these are excellent nibbling cookies alongside your beverage of choice. Of course, the addition of chocolate is always welcome whenever espresso is around, and I be the use of orange extract in place of the vanilla would just seal the deal.
An interesting technique of pressing the dough to the specified dimensions in a gallon-sized Ziploc bag makes quick and easy work of handling the dough, turning the sticky mass into a chilled slice-and-bake production.
Once the dough has chilled and you slice and peel away the Ziploc bag like Elmer's Glue on your skin, quickly score the dough to the correct size and slice away. I could have eyeballed it, but I wanted to be a bit of a perfectionist here.
Since the dough warms up rather quickly (or perhaps it was due to the temperature of the kitchen, or the warmness of my heart seeping through to my fingers) quickly transfer the slices to the prepared baking sheet where you will indent each cookie with the tines of a fork. Quickness is what really helps the cookies to retain their shape; all-butter cookies have a habit of spreading.
To date, none of the recipes I've made from Dorie's book have failed. This is probably one of my favorites since it's excellent alongside a cup of tea or coffee, and it's really a lovely little cookie that stands up to any occasion. These would also make an excellent choice to ship since they are fairly sturdy and the flavors improve with time.
Espresso-Chocolate Shortbread Cookies
from Baking: From My Home to Yours
Makes 32 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 finely chopped, or 3/4 cup store-bought mini chocolate chips
Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting (optional)
- Dissolve the espresso in the boiling water, and set aside to cool to tepid.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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. (I'm out of parchments, so I simply greased the sheets.)
- 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.
- 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.
- If you’d like, dust the cookies with confectioners’ sugar while they are still hot. Cool the cookies to room temperature before serving.