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Coffee Chocolate-Chip Shortbread Cookies

December 21, 2010

Sometimes, I’ll see a recipe that I like and sort of hem and haw my way out of making it. It won’t be the right season or the ingredient list seems a little long or it looks too complicated or maybe no one else will be in the mood to eat it or … I, a procrastinator extraordinaire, can come up with a thousand ways to not do something.

I’m very sad to admit that I did such a thing with these magical coffee chocolate-chip shortbread cookies. I found the recipe, from Dorie Greenspan by way of Smitten Kitchen, during one of my frequent summer perusals of Smitten’s archives, and filed it away in my brain. Summer was the time for blueberry crumb bars and clafoutis, not shortbread, I told myself. Shortbread is meant to be eaten with a large cup of hot chocolate in front of an open fire, preferably while roasting chestnuts or something else equally Christmas-y.

But on an impromptu trip home this weekend, with snow on the deck and Jack Frost nipping at my nose, I decided I had to have these. We even had all of the ingredients necessary (it was fate!). I was so determined to make these that I didn’t even let a lack of camera stop me, and just grabbed the old point-and-shoot. I apologize, because the pictures don’t do justice to how cute these cookies actually are.

Oh and how they taste? Well they’re crumbly and soft thanks to the use of powdered sugar, but durable enough to pack and mail to your favorite coffee lover. They are very much on the lightly sweet side, which is perfect for someone who, like me, likes their cookies a little bitter. Because I subbed unsweetened baking chocolate in for bittersweet chocolate, mine were especially bitter, which is exactly how I like my coffee, though you want to stick with the recipe’s suggestion.

But here is where I’ve done you a great disservice, my friends: these cookies, they taste even better on Day 3. They were made for shipping! So if you’re looking for something to send er, very last minute, send. these. now.

These cookies were exceedingly easy to make. They also take well to being mixed by hand (which I read is something Dorie Greenspan does when making sablés and therefore use that technique at all times), which means that your favorite little kitchen elves can certainly help out. I made two changes: I used 2 tablespoons of strong brewed coffee instead of 1 tablespoon of instant espresso and unsweetened baking chocolate instead of bittersweet chocolate, both because that’s what I had on hand. Adding a pinch or two of salt or even using salted butter might create a really nice depth of flavor for the next time I make these.

Yield: 50 1-inch square cookies

– 2 sticks unsalted butter (or salted, if you wish to be daring)

– 2/3 cup confectioner’s sugar (like I said, these cookies were not very sweet at all — maybe up this to 3/4 of a cup if you like your sweets more sugary)

– 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

– 2 tablespoons strong brewed coffee (I probably use a 2 scoops of ground beans to 1 cup water ratio when making coffee)

– 2 cups all-purpose flour

– 4 ounces unsweetened baking chocolate (the recipe calls for bittersweet chocolate and suggests toffee, which would be divine)

*Need a gallon-sized Ziploc bag

1) Beat the butter and powdered sugar to a creamy, smooth consistency with an electric mixer. Add the vanilla and coffee and mix until incorporated.

2) Add the flour in batches and use your hands to mix only until the flour is incorporated. Fold in the chocolate. Work the dough as little as possible.

3) Transfer the dough to a gallon-sized Ziploc bag. With the top open, roll the dough to fill the bag. It will be about a 1/4-inch thick. While rolling, turn the bag occasionally and lift up the plastic so that the dough doesn’t crease. Once the dough is rolled to the shape of the bag, seal it and freeze for at least 2 hours. It can be frozen for up to 2 days.

4) After the dough is chilled, cut the Ziploc bag open and place the dough on a cutting board. Using a sharp knife, cut 1-inch square cookies. Place the cookies on lined baking sheets and prick holes into them with a fork, pressing until the fork hits the sheet (this prevents the cookies from puffing up). The cookies may break a bit, but just push the pieces back together.

5) Bake at 325˚F for 20 minutes, until the cookies are set. They will be very pale. Let them cool completely before tasting.

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