Last week I was looking for some sort of goody to send to my Grandma. As I’ve mentioned before, I like to send her things every few weeks with a card and some pictures of our family since she doesn’t live nearby. She loves it, and I love doing it. It is always fun to figure out what things will ship well. I thought these shortbread seemed like a wonderful idea and I was right. She called me after she received the package and gave me some incredibly high praise – she said I am now even better at baking than my mom was. WOW. My mom had quite a reputation in the kitchen, so that meant a lot coming from Grandma.
These were really fun cookies to make. I was amazed at how quickly the batter came together. Then I had a great time rolling out the dough in the plastic bag – what a great idea! Slicing and baking was fun as well. I cut a 1.5-inch square of cardstock and used that as a guide for my cookies since I couldn’t find my ruler, and it worked just as well. The perfect square shapes that I cut out of the dough really pleased my OCD side ;) I only saved a few of these for us, and almost all of those were eaten by Ben, but the one I tasted was very good. Buttery and with just the right texture for shortbread. The mini chocolate chips provided just the right amount of sweetness to offset the flavor of the espresso. For some reason my espresso powder didn’t dissolve all that well in the water, but I don’t think it affected the taste of the cookies and it lent a cool speckled appearance to the dough.
Espresso Chocolate Chip Shortbread
1 tbsp. instant espresso powder
1 tbsp. boiling water
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup mini-chocolate chips
Dissolve the espresso powder in the boiling water. Set aside to cool to tepid.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat butter on medium-high until smooth. Add the confectioners’ sugar and beat on medium speed for about 3 minutes, until the mixture is very smooth. Add in the vanilla and the espresso and mix until incorporated. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour and mix only until it disappears into the dough. Fold in the mini-chocolate chips with a rubber spatula.
Transfer the dough to a gallon-sized plastic bag. Place the bag on a flat work surface, leaving the top open. Roll the dough into a 9 x 10 1/2-inch rectangle that is about 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 the dough has reached the desired size and thickness, seal the bag pressing out as much excess air as possible, and refrigerate the dough for at least 2 hours, or up to 2 days.
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Put the plastic bag on a cutting board and slit it open. Discard the bag. Using a ruler (or precut square of cardstock) as a guide, cut the dough into 1 1/2-inch squares. Transfer the squares to baking sheets and carefully prick each one twice with a fork. Bake for 18-20 minutes, rotating the sheets halfway through baking 180 degrees and from top to bottom. The cookies shouldn’t take on much color while baking. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on the pan 5-10 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and allow to cool completely.