Espresso Dark Chocolate Chunk Shortbread Cookies

In our family, one of the Christmas morning traditions has become this decadent shortbread which melts in your mouth.  My sister came across the recipe a few years ago on Smitten, and we’ve been making them ever since.The cookie is wonderfully buttery, with a tiny bit of sweet, the lovely background aroma of espresso, and itty-bitty chunks of chocolate.

As far as chocolate goes, I will say that my personal favorite for baking in this cookie is Valrhona guanaja.  I am able to buy it at Whole Foods in whatever size chunk I may need, then I cut it up myself, at home, with a serrated bread knife.  This way my chocolate is minus the stabilizers that are used in commercial chips and I get to have a variety of sizes and shapes of chocolate bits.

Ingredients:
1 oz. fresh brewed espresso
2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup confectioners sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups all purpose flour
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped

Directions:

  • Working with a stand mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and confectioners sugar together until the mixture is very smooth
  • Beat in the vanilla and espresso
  • Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the flour, mixing only until blended
  • Fold in the chopped chocolate
  • Using a rubber spatula, transfer the soft, sticky dough to a gallon-size zipper-lock plastic bag. Put the bag on a flat surface, leaving the top open, and roll the dough into a 9 x 10 1/2 inch rectangle that’s 1/4 inch thick.  As you roll, turn the bag occasionally and lift the plastic from the dough so that it doesn’t make 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, and for up to 2 days
  • Preheat the oven to 325 degrees
  • Line two baking sheets with parchment paper
  • Put the plastic bag on a cutting board and cut it open. Turn the chilled dough out onto the board and, using a ruler as a guide and a sharp knife or pizza wheel, cut the dough into 1 1/2-inch squares
  • Transfer the squares to the baking sheets and carefully prick each one twice with a fork, gently pushing the tines all the way through the cookies
  • Bake for 18 to 20 minutes (Note:  The cookies will be very pale as they shouldn’t take on much color)
  • Transfer to a cooling rack & cool to room temp before serving or freezing (I make these about two weeks before Christmas and freeze them, then pull them out on Christmas eve to thaw in the fridge overnight)

 

Chocolate Stout Cake

If you love deep, rich chocolate then this cake may be for you.  Low-fat it is not, but heavenly it is.  Although it contains stout, this cake does not taste like beer.  It simply uses the roasted malt flavor from the beer to lend to the intense character of the cake, the crumb of which is very dense and moist.  I’ve baked this many times over the last few years and find that while it’s great to eat just a few hours after baking, it’s superb the next day.  So if you have the ability to make and ganache the cake the day before, I think that you’ll be pleased with the outcome- not that I think you’ll ever be let down if you eat it the first day.

chocolate stout cake with espresso ganache

Ingredients:

1 cup stout (I generally use a chocolate stout like Young’s Double Chocolate or Brooklyn’s Black Chocolate, Southern Tier’s choklat even made an appearance once)
1 cup unsalted butter
¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder (my favorite is valrhona)
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1½ teaspoons baking soda
¾ teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
6 tablespoons sour cream (I’ve used non-fat without adverse effects)
6 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, chunked
6 tablespoons heavy cream
¾ teaspoon ground espresso

Cake prep:

  • Preheat oven to 350°F
  • Grease a bundt pan
  • Bring 1 cup stout and 1 cup butter to simmer in a saucepan over a medium heat. Add cocoa powder and whisk until mixture is smooth. Cool slightly
  • Whisk flour, sugar, baking soda, and ¾ teaspoon salt in large bowl
  • Using a mixer, beat eggs and sour cream in another large bowl to blend
  • Add stout-chocolate mixture to egg mixture and beat just to combine
  • Add flour mixture and beat briefly on a slow speed. Using rubber spatula, fold the batter until it’s completely combined
  • Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake cake until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 35 minutes (but sometimes as long as 50)
  • Transfer cake (in the pan) to a rack; cool 10 minutes
  • Turn cake out onto rack and cool completely

Ganache:
For the ganache, melt the chocolate, heavy cream, and espresso in a heat-proof bowl over simmering water in a sauce pan until smooth, stirring occasionally. Drizzle over the top of the cooled cake.

Inspired by this post on smittenkitchen.com

J

Cowboy Cookies

Can I just say oh-my-goodness YUM!  Let me start by pointing out that I am a huge fan of cookies of all kinds.  The dry and crumbly shortbread, the chewy molasses spice, the sweet and chunky almond-blueberry, the cocoa-rich chocolate sugar cookie, the tart and creamy lemon ricotta cookie,   the colon-cleansing Rocky cookie– I love many cookies of quality.  Upon a recent visit to one of my favorite artisan coffee roasters I spied in their pastry case a cookie by the name of “cowboy”.  This piqued my interest.  A few days later one of my favorite cookbook authors posted a recipe for this cookie.  I couldn’t not try it.  It’s like a chocolate chunk cookie on steroids: a rich and dark sugar profile, chunks of bittersweet chocolate, hints of espresso, and bits of crunchy, salty pretzel.

the cowboy cookie

Ingredients:

1¾ cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
¾ tsp sea salt
2 cups rolled, old-fashioned oats
14 Tbsp butter ( 1¾ sticks) at room temperature
¾ cup granulated sugar
1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1 large egg and one yolk
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 tsp espresso
12 oz.  bittersweet chocolate chunks
¾ cup crumbled pretzels, divided

Directions:

  • In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and espresso. Add the oats and stir.  Set aside

dry ingredients

  • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugars together until smooth and creamy

super-creamy butter & sugars

  • Add the egg and egg yolk, beating until the mixture looks light and fluffy. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl, add the vanilla, and beat again

beautiful, local brown eggs

  • Add the dry ingredients a little at a time, mixing until just incorporated. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl and fold in the chocolate chunks and ½ cup of the pretzel pieces

12 ounces of chunked bittersweet chocolate

  • Cover the bowl tightly and refrigerate the dough for a few hours or overnight
  • Preheat the oven to 350° F. Line your baking sheet(s) with parchment paper
  • Measure out dough in two-tablespoon-size balls and press each ball into a dish of remaining crushed pretzel pieces
  • Place the dough balls on the baking sheet about 2 inches apart and use the palm of your hand to press the dough down lightly; just enough to slightly flatten the ball and push the pretzel pieces into the dough
  • Bake for 11-13 minutes, until the edges of the cookies are golden brown or just begin to darken
  • Set the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes to cool

cooling on the baking sheet

  • Transfer the cookies to a rack to cool completely

cooling on the wire rack

I’m thinking that these are great for folks who can’t have nuts ’cause you get the crunch profile without the nut-issues 😉

J

Recipe adapted from a post on Jonesing For…

A fantastic new cookie idea

So this month’s Food & Wine mag came in the mail last week and as is my norm I read it cover to cover and ripped out pages that looked interesting as well as recipes that looked hopeful.  When it came time to decide on dishes to bring to a party this past weekend I was inspired by their idea of Ganache-stuffed chocolate chip cookies for my unhealthy dessert.

I already have what I believe to be the best recipe for chocolate chunk cookies eva, so I ripped their idea and used my own recipes for the cookies and the Ganache.  I decided to add some freshly ground espresso to the cookies this time around, and I also had a great tip from Sarah to add chopped fresh cherries to the ganache.  The feedback that I got from folks at the party was indicative of a winner.  Behold, the cherry ganache stuffed chocolate chunk espresso cookies:

Cherry ganache stuffed chocolate chunk espresso cookies

Cherry ganache stuffed chocolate chunk espresso cookies