Espresso Chocolate Chip Shortbread Cookies

I made these cookies as a going away present for my sister. She loves coffee, she loves shortbread, and she recently headed off to college as a first time freshman. As she seemed a bit nervous about making new friends (although she would never admit this), I thought cookies would be the perfect gift. She could lure new and exciting people into her life by bribing them in with baked goods. What better conversation starter is there than

”Hey, would you like a delicious cookie?”

I thought this was ingenious. I thought I was oh so clever. Of course my plan backfired on me faster than you could say “milk and cookies.”

As my sister later informed me, she was able to bribe off one (only one?) cookie. What self respecting college students turn down free food? Much less free cookies?! Ohh, freshmen. They have got a lot to learn…

So now, as my sister eats them all by herself, she mourned that she is one step closer to gaining that freshman fifteen.

Although seemingly snubbed by college freshman everywhere, these cookies are a fantastic representation of taking a basic shortbread recipe to the next level. These cookies still have that classic sandy texture shortbread is known for, but the espresso flavor is so distinct it redefines the entire cookie. The bittersweet chocolate points these cookies closer to a mocha flavor. I never had the chance to dip one of these in a hot cup of coffee, but I only have reason to believe it would be fantastic.

Espresso Chocolate Chip Shortbread Cookies

From Smitten Kitchen

Yields 32 cookies

1 tablespoon espresso powder
1 tablespoon boiling water
2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, room temperature
2/3 cup powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
4 ounces (~3/4 cup) bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped

Dissolved the espresso powder into the boiling water and set aside to cool.

In a large bowl, beat together the butter and powdered sugar on medium speed until smooth, about 3 minutes. Blend in the vanilla and espresso. Reduce the mixer speed to low and mix in the flour until just incorporated. Avoid over mixing. Fold the chopped chocolate into the mixture with a sturdy spatula.

Transfer the cookie dough to a gallon sized Ziploc bag, remove air, and refrigerate for 2 hours. The dough can be refrigerated up to 48 hours if necessary. Once sufficiently cooled, open the top of the plastic bag to allow air flow. Roll out the dough inside of the plastic bag into a 9 by 10 ½ inch rectangle that is ¼ inch thick. When rolling, occasionally lift the plastic bag from the dough to avoid creasing the dough.

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

Once rolled out, cut the plastic bag right down the middle and fold the bag away from the dough. Using a ruler as a guide, cut the dough into 1 ½ inch square cookies, essentially achieving a cookie grid.

Transfer the cookies onto a baking sheet using a fork or metal spatula. My dough had started to warm up making it harder, and stickier, to transfer. If this happens, I suggest putting it back in the fridge to cool off (or you can use brute force, like I did, if you are on time constraints).

Bake the cookies for 18 to 20 minutes. The shortbread should stay relatively pale—this is okay! Transfer the cookies to a cooling rack to cool.