Monday, December 21, 2009
Cookies Espressly For You
I've been having some technical difficulties here, so I'm a bit tardy in posting my cookies from my annual cookie exchange. But I'm still leaving you time to make them in case you need a last minute gift for a very special neighbor, co-worker, hairdresser, UPS guy, piano teacher, or whoever is deserving in your life. Put a few of these in a cellophane bag with a fancy bow and you'll have the rest of your last-minute gift list taken care of.
These are definitely grown up cookies. Give the Rice Krispie treats to the kids and save these for someone who will appreciate the bite of dark chocolate against the heat of chili pepper, and the sandy texture of shortbread. Plus, they're so cute, dressed up as giant chocolate covered espresso beans. I hate to see the cuteness factor go unappreciated.
Since time is short and I've got presents to wrap, I'll leave you with the recipe and warm wishes for happy baking!
Espresso Mole Shortbread
- adapted from Choosy Beggars
Makes 3 dozen cookies
1-1/2 cups + 1 tbsp unsalted butter at room temperature
3/4 cup confectioners sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp instant espresso powder
2 tbsp very hot water
1 tbsp vanilla
3 cups sifted all purpose flour
3/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1.5 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp allspice
6 oz semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1- In a large mixing bowl, cream together 1-1/2 cups of butter with the confectioners sugar and salt. Beat them until fluffy, with no lumps or clumps remaining.
2- Measure the powdered instant espresso into a small bowl and pour the hot water over it. Stir this until it’s syrupy.
3- Add the espresso and vanilla to the creamed sugar and butter and mix it until combined.
4- Add the pepper, cinnamon, and allspice. Mix well and scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.
5- Add the flour and continue mixing until the dough looks uniform. Scrape the bottom of the sides one more time with a spatula, urging it into a bit of a ball.
6- Turn the dough onto a large piece of plastic wrap and make sure that it has a nice tight seal. Chill the dough for at least two hours or overnight.
7- When you're ready to bake the dough, preheat the oven to 325 deg. F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Remove the dough from the refrigerator.
8- After the chilling period the dough will be very firm. As you bring the dough to room temperature, it will soften enough so that it’s workable. As soon as it’s just soft enough that you can cut it fairly easily, do so. Divide the dough into 4 equal pieces and cut each quarter into 9 equal pieces.
9- Roll each piece into an oval egg shape, and then gently press a wooden skewer down the center to give them that distinctive coffee bean shape. Lay the molded cookies on the prepared sheets.
10- Bake the cookies for 30 – 35 minutes in the center of your oven, rotating the racks halfway through. The cookies will be done when they’re slightly firm to the touch and the bottoms are just starting to get golden. Let the cookies sit on the baking sheets for two minutes before removing to cooling racks to cool completely.
11- Once the cookies are completely cooled, put the semi-sweet chocolate into a heatproof bowl and set it over top of a pot with 1 – 2 inches of water inside. Make sure that there is at least an inch of empty space between the water and the bottom of your bowl. Set that over medium heat and let the chocolate slowly melt.
12- Stir the chocolate occasionally as it melts, and when it is almost all melted add in the reserved 1 tbsp of butter and stir until it’s melted and combined.
13- Using a pastry brush (silicone brushes are wonderful for this) brush the top and sides of each cookie with chocolate, and lay them back onto parchment paper to let the chocolate set up.
Store at room temperature in a tightly sealed container.