The cookies that were a thank you for the birthday gift from Natasha and XHP were not covered with caramel, nor with ganache, nor with buttercream, but they have plenty of butter in them, some kick from espresso and (hand chopped!) bittersweet Scharfenberger chocolate. And since they are a Dorie Greenspan recipe, they came out perfectly, of course. People who don't bake a lot really can't appreciate how liberating it is to know that ANY recipe that has Dorie Greenspan's name on it will be a joy to bake and will be perfect (well, as perfect as the skills of the baker allow :) So, a big THANK YOU to the two lovely people who gave me the book!
Espresso-Chocolate Shortbread Cookies are crisp and still delicate, buttery, sophisticated and perfect with a cup of coffee. They were a hit on Wednesday and would be a hit any time of day or night...imagine them with fruit and coffee at breakfast, with milk in the afternoon, with cocoa at night. I may have to make more.
Espresso-Chocolate Shortbread Cookies
by Dorie Greenspan from Baking: from my home to yours
1 tablespoon instant espresso powder
1 tablespoon boiling water
2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature (I used one stick salted and on stick unsalted because that's what I had on hand)
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 mini chocolate chips
Mix the boiling water and the espresso to dissolve the espresso, then set aside to cool to tepid.
Beat the butter and confectioners' sugar together on medium speed using a stand mixer, for about 3 minutes, until mixture is very smooth. Don't use the whisk attachment, use the paddle or beaters.
Beat in the vanilla and espresso, then reduce the mixer speed to low and add the flour and chocolate all at once mixing only until the flour is incorporated. Use a rubber spatula to gently mix in any flour on the sides, but mix as little as possible to keep dough tender.
Using a spatula, transfer the soft, sticky dough to a gallon-size zipper-lock plastic bag. (Elle's note: This is the part that was new to me and a bit scary, but it worked like a charm)
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 (if you can) so it doesn't cause creases. When you get the right size and thickness (I was more concerned about the 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 oven to 325 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment or silicone mats.
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. (Elle's note: Dorie calls for pushing the tines through the cookies until they hit the sheet...I tried that on the first one and the cookie broke in half. The rest of the sheet got perfunctory pricks, the following sheets none, but they all seemed to come out fine.) Bake for 18 - 20 minutes, rotating the sheets at the halfway point. The shortbreads will not get golden - they stay pretty pale. Transfer the cookies to a rack to cool.