This is a bit embarrassing to admit, considering I write a food blog, but I'm out of granulated sugar at the moment. I haven't needed to go to the store recently, and I try to avoid going for just one item. Yet I've been craving cookies. When I saw the recipe for these sables (shortbread in French), which called for confectioner's sugar, I saw it as a sign that I had to make them.
And boy am I glad I did. I halved the recipe, both because I wasn't sure I'd like the cookies and because I don't need to be eating that many cookies, period. They were fantastic, though -- flaky, crisp, not too sweet, and full of coffee flavor and chunks of dark chocolate. If you want to make the full batch, simply double the recipe below.
The recipe calls for instant espresso powder, but I don't usually keep that around and I don't use it enough to warrant buying it. Instead, I ground up some espresso beans really fine and used that instead. Once incorporated into the dough, the grounds disappear texture wise, but flavor wise they're unmistakeable.
Dorie Greenspan has some tips for making successful shortbread. First, use softened butter, but not too soft and definitely not melted. You want to avoid oily greasiness. Second, you don't want fluffy batter. Thus, do not overbeat the butter and sugar. Third, once you add in the flour, do not overmix the dough. Mix until just incorporated, and don't handle the dough too much. Fourth, chill the dough for a good long time, preferably overnight. And finally, no matter how good they might smell (and they will smell really, really good), do NOT eat the cookies until they have cooled completely.
When I was a little girl, my favorite cookies were Girl Scout shortbread cookies -- but these cookies are decidedly for adults.
Espresso-Chocolate Shortbread Cookies (recipe adapted from Dorie Greenspan's Baking: From My Home to Yours)
- 1/2 cup butter (1 stick), softened
- 1/3 cup confectioner's sugar
- 1/2 tbsp finely ground espresso beans (or instant espresso powder)
- 1/2 tbsp boiling water
- 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 cup flour
- 2oz dark or bittersweet chocolate, chopped
- Combine the boiling water and ground espresso beans and let sit.
- In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar together until very smooth, 2-3 minutes.
- Beat in the vanilla extract and espresso mixture, scraping down as necessary.
- Add the flour and mix just until it disappears into the dough.
- Gently fold in the chocolate pieces. Don't overwork the dough.
- Scrape the soft and sticky dough into a gallon-sized plastic bag. Do not seal, and use a rolling pin to roll the dough into a rectangle 1/4-inch thick. Seal and chill in rthe efrigerator for a minimum of 2 hours or overnight; longer is better.
- When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 325°F.
- Cut the plastic bag away from the chilled and hardened dough. Using a sharp knife, cut the dough into 1 1/2-inch squares.
- Place the cookies on a baking sheet lined with Silpat or parchment paper about an inch apart (they shouldn't spread while baking). Use a fork and pierce each cookie twice all the way through the dough.
- Bake for 18-20 minutes, turning the baking sheet about halfway through. The shortbread will stay fairly pale and will not change color much if at all.
- Transfer the cookies to a wire rack and serve when completely cooled.