This month has been very busy with many many birthdays, my parent's anniversary, my university graduation and the up-coming Father's Day. I wanted to make a couple of batches of cookies for some of the birthday presents but they needed to be able to travel well because they would be coming in my suitcase with me. They also, obviously, needed to be delicious.
I chose these cookies from Smitten Kitchen because everyone knows that espresso and chocolate are a crowd pleasing combination. In the comments I noticed people complaining that when they replaced the espresso powder with instant coffee powder the cookies lost their coffee flavor. To my annoyance, my grocery store didn't have espresso powder so I had to buy some instant coffee instead. To ensure that the cookies would still have a noticeable coffee flavor I added extra instant powder but kept the amount of water the same.
I packaged up gift boxes either full of cookies or a few cookies wrapped in some wax paper along with some bags of tea from the Secret Garden Tea House. I love love love their creamy earl grey tea.
Chocolate Coffee Shortbread Cookies
(adapted from Smitten Kitchen's espresso-chocolate shortbread cookies)
I have to add that rolling the cookie dough out while it is in a freezer bag is genius. It was so easy, mess-free, and the cookies all baked evenly
1 1/2 heaping tablespoons of instant coffee powder
1 tablespoon boiling water
2 sticks salted butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup bittersweet chocolate chips
1. Dissolve the instant coffee 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.
6. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, The shortbreads will be very pale–they shouldn’t take on much color. Transfer the cookies to a rack.