Espresso-Chocolate Shortbread Cookies
Dorie Greenspan's 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 (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. (yeah, keep it out of the way when you are getting ready to bake...my custard cup got hit with a flying box that fell out of the cabinet...OMG....espresso everywhere...my legs, in between my toes, the floor, the front of my cabinets... who would have thought a Tbsp of liquid could cover so much space!)
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. (I thought I was being smart and using plastic wrap for this part....hindsight is 20/20....the ziploc makes your straight edges around the dough. Please use the ziploc, don't be smarty pants like me and think plastic wrap would be easier!)
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 (I used a pizza cutter), cut the dough into 1 1/2-inch squares. (Work fast, you dough warms quickly!) 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. (I know alot of shortbread cookies have you cook the dough all "en mass" and cut it afterward but really go ahead and cut them into individual pieces....so much easier!)
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.
My baking notes: I covered some of mine with granulated sugar, some with toffee bits and a sugar and toffee combo. Some I put holes in like the recipes stated...some I didn't. I don't see how they had a baking benefit or if it was merely aesthetic. I love the crunch of the toffee and the sandy sugary top that conflicts the smoothness of the cookie.
K-man's comments: "These just melt in your mouth." I love it when I don't tell him what I am cooking or what is in it and I hand it to him and he has an observance like that!
P.S. Just in case you were wondering what to look for with the espresso powder. This is the only one I've ever seen in my store. I also see it a lot on the Food Network when they use it, so it must be pretty common. If you can't find it Gin, I will send you some! Let's see the recipe calls for 1 tbsp.....