Monday, April 29, 2013

Anytime Treat: Mocha Chip Shortbread Cookies

Dieting means I have sworn off a lot of food items, including sweets. Not an easy task when you have a sweet tooth like me. But I recently needed to check out some recipes to serve at Brilliant Daughter’s big birthday celebration. I found a base recipe (which I adjusted to suit my own tastes) for a cookie that combines 3 things we love: shortbread (we are of British descent after all), coffee, and chocolate. How could I go wrong?

While I am a committed Peet’s coffee drinker, one of my recipe modifications makes use of Starbuck’s instant Via coffee packets. We received some as a gift and every time I open the coffee cabinet I wonder what I will do with them. No longer, as they are the perfect ingredient for this recipe.

These shortbread cookies are rich, full of flavor and crunch and perfect with a scoop of coffee ice cream or a piping hot cappuccino (not that I can indulge, mind you). I promise that I taste-tested both batches—one with cocoa nibs and one without—and they are really, really good. I mean, addictive good. I had to package them up for the butchers, Mr. B’s co-workers, Brilliant Daughter’s co-workers, and for Electrician Son and his fiancĂ©e, otherwise my diet would have been blown to hell. Down 17 pounds, with only 8 to go, I am determined, scrumptious cookies or no….

So go ahead, give them a try. If you like a little extra crunch, add in the cocoa nibs. If not, they are perfect with the mini chocolate chips alone (Brilliant Daughter’s preference).

Mocha Chip Shortbread Cookies

3 packets Starbucks Via Columbian coffee powder
1 tablespoon boiling water
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
2/3 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
1/4 cup cocoa nibs (optional)

Dissolve coffee powder in boiling water to make coffee concentrate. Set aside to cool for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, beat butter and sugar together on medium speed for 3 minutes, scraping bowl occasionally. Beat in vanilla bean paste and coffee concentrate, mixing for 1 minute. Reduce mixer speed to low and add flour, mixing just until all specks of flour are gone. Don’t overmix the dough as it will get tough. Quickly fold in the chocolate chips (and cocoa nibs).

Transfer dough to a gallon-size Ziploc or between two large sheets of waxed paper. Flatten dough with you hand as much as you can, and then use a rolling pin to roll it out to ¼-inch thickness. Try and keep it as square or rectangular as you can. You will need to periodically lift plastic or waxed paper up to remove any creases that occur. Once you reach correct thickness, seal bag or fold paper over ends and refrigerate for 2 hours or more (up to 2 days).

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Prepare cookie sheets with parchment or silpat.

Cut open plastic bag or peel off top waxed paper. Using ruler and knife (or pizza cutter), cut dough into 1 1/2–inch squares. Transfer to prepared cookie sheet and bake for 15-18 minutes, rotating trays halfway through. Cool on baking racks.

Yield: 3 dozen

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