Coffee blasted, dark chocolate tinged, buttery shortbread goodness. Comfort and Joy!
What happens when a charming old Scotsman, a sexy Italian, a darkly delicious Swiss guy and two classy American chicks who handcraft luscious food play around with the inclinations of an unsuspecting, whistling-a-merry-tune, Canadian girl?
ESPRESSO CHOCOLATE SHORTBREAD. That's what happens!
Enter stage left, installment number two of DIY, brazenly delicious Christmas Cookie Boxes.
Passionate gratitude to the guy in the kilt for the quintessential Scottish cookie, shortbread; to the Italian for the bold blast of espresso, to the Swiss guy for gloriously smooth, addictive chocolate, and of course to those American chicks. Crumb-coated, big-smily thanks to Dorie Greenspan, culinary guru, for this keeper of a recipe, and to Deb of Smitten Kitchen food blog fame, who elevates writing, photography and cooking to one divinely enticing artform and who got my attention, wham bam, with her take on this recipe of Dorie's.
To the rest of you out there, thinking about revving up your holiday cooking possibilities, make these!! These are seriously delicious cookies. The dark chocolate snuggles up to the espresso making each tender, buttery bite a bit of a seductive, under-the-mistletoe, tease.
And, Halleluja, these babies just get better with age. Joy to the World!
I cannot dash off for another nibble without mentioning one of the coolest things about this recipe is that you roll the dough out in a big ziplock bag. Dorie, that's sheer genius! Pa ra pa pum pum.
**I've made only a couple of small changes from the original recipe**
ESPRESSO-CHOCOLATE SHORTBREAD COOKIES - Makes about 42
1 tablespoon instant espresso powder
1 tablespoon boiling water
1 cup butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon good vanilla extract
2 cups flour
About 4 ounces dark, semi-sweet, or bittersweet good quality chocolate, finely chopped, or 3/4 cup mini chocolate chips (I used a 100gr (3.5oz) Lindt 'Ecuador' 75% cacao chocolate bar, with superb results) (Last year I used mini chocolate chips, but far, far, far prefer the finely chopped Lindt)
Confectioners' sugar, for dusting (optional)
1. Dissolve the espresso 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 and the dough bunches. Don't work the dough too much, once the flour is incorporated. Fold in the chopped chocolate with a sturdy rubber spatula.
3. Using the spatula, transfer the soft, somewhat sticky dough to a large (gallon size) (26.8 x 27.3cm), zipper-lock, plastic bag. Put the bag on a flat surface, leaving the top open, and roll the dough into about a 9 x 10.5 inch rectangle that is 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 even 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. Preheat oven to 325F. Line 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 a baking sheet and carefully poke each one twice with a fork, gently pushing the tines through the cookies until they hit the sheet.
6. Bake for 20-22 minutes. The cookies will be quite pale - they don't take on much 'baked' colour. Transfer cookies to a rack.
7. If you'd like, dust the cookies with confectioners' sugar while they are still warm. Cool to room temperature before serving.