Monday, April 6, 2009

Hello Cookie: Espresso Chocolate Shortbread Cookies

Don’t you just love the internet? I do, because:
- You can find out the name of that actor in that movie who looks really familiar but whom you just can’t place.
-You can google ‘fabulous cookie recipe’ and get 245,000 responses.
-You can use the word ‘google’ as a verb without being torn apart by the grammar police.

For my latest Hello Cookie project, I thought I’d take a break from the ‘Field Guide to Cookies’, and see what other goodies were out there. And what did I find but ‘Espresso-Chocolate Shortbread Cookies’, courtesy of
smittenkitchen, via Dorie Greenspan.

The other good thing about the internet is being able to see other people’s opinions on things, and this cookie recipe has had a lot of feedback, mostly good, some a bit negative. My thoughts (warning: opinion coming up) is that it’s pretty good, though not quite deserving of the rave reviews that some have given it.

The cookie is more of a cookie than a shortbread, and it’s crap full of butter – normally not a bad thing, but I found it a bit greasy in the mouth. Tastewise, it has a subtle coffee flavour that is unusual but tasty. I used a block of Lindt dark Coffee Intense chocolate to boost the flavour and it turned out well. And rolling out the dough in a plastic bag before cutting it is a great idea. And yes, I did use a ruler, though I think cutting the squares smaller than the 1.5 inches (3.5 cm) would be better, given the richness of the cookie. Come to think of it, maybe some more flour would help the richness; these
lemon craisin cookies use the same amount of butter with rice flour and cornflour and they are feel less ‘fatty’.

Anyway, here is the recipe, with my metric adjustments in brackets.

Espresso-Chocolate Shortbread Cookies

Makes 32 cookies


1 tablespoon instant espresso powder (I used strong ground coffee)
1 tablespoon boiling water
2 sticks/8 ounces (250 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup confectioners’ (icing) sugar
½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose (plain) flour
4 ounces (125 grams) bittersweet chocolate (plain, or a coffee variety), finely chopped, or ¾ cup store-bought mini chocolate chips


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. 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 large ziploc plastic bag (or freezer bag). Put the bag on a flat surface, leaving the top open, and roll the dough into a 9 x 10 ½ inch (23 x 26.5 cm) rectangle that’s ¼ inch (0.5 cm) 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 (165 deg C). 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 ½ inch (3.5 cm) squares. Transfer the squares to the baking sheets and carefully prick each one twice with a fork, gently pushing the tines through the cookies until they hit the sheet.

6. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, rotating the sheets from top to bottom and front to back at the midway point. The shortbreads will be very pale–they shouldn’t take on much colour. Transfer the cookies to a rack.

7. If you’d like, dust the cookies with confectioners’ sugar while they are still hot. Cool the cookies to room temperature before serving.

Recipe adapted from

Mixing in the chopped chocolate

Roll out the dough in a plastic bag, then chill; measure out the squares of dough before cutting

1.5 inch squares, ready for baking

Scrummy espresso chocolate shortbread cookies (perfectly square)


  1. Smart idea using the lindt coffee chocolate for an extra kick. Yum!

  2. Ooh I love the look of those cookies! and hee hee towers must be the new trend!

  3. love the idea of rolling a sticky cookie dough out in a plastic bag pre-cutting. i find it always sticks everywhere and leaves a horrible greasy buttery mess.

    and giggles at the ruler measurement. such precision!

  4. Oooh lovely indeed! Sorry to hear about the greasy mouth feel but points for using Lindt Espresso Intense chocolate :)

  5. they look great - I love that they are rolled out and then cut.

  6. Very cute cookies! Love the photos!

  7. hi Arwen - I stole the idea from smittenkitchen - she used toffe chocolate instead!

    hi FFichiban - the taller the better, as long as it doesn't collapse and all you're left with is crumbs...

    hi Shez - the dough in the bag is a great idea, isn't it? Definitely a keeper.

    hi Lorraine - I could eat a whole block of coffee intense anytime!

    hi Renee - yes, I'm going to use the roll and cut method more often.

    hi Anita - thanks, they were very yummy!