As I mentioned in my last post, my friend Julia asked me to mail some cookies for her and her roommates. As much as I love chewy and gooey cookies, I knew that shortbreads would be the most likely to make the trip to Atlanta without crumbling, squishing, drying out, or melting into a sticky mess. Yes, shortbreads are very hardy. Unfortunately, they can also be a little...well...boring (in my opinion...I know that statement will be nothing short of sacrilege to shortbread enthusiasts). How am I supposed to show off my baking prowess with something so easy to make that I have the list of ingredients memorized?
On the other hand, the fact that they are so simple to make should probably be considered a good thing. And even though they might not be soft and chewy and loaded with gooey chocolate chips, they do have a very agreeable crisp and delicate texture, melting in your mouth as soon as you take your first bite. And, amazingly enough, shortbreads don't even have to be boring!
Shortbreads are very versatile and easy to flavor. You can replace the vanilla extract with other flavored extracts. You can add lemon zest, orange zest, sesame seeds, poppyseeds, sunflower seeds, mini chocolate chips, chopped up bits of dried fruit, nuts, matcha, ground cinnamon, ground nutmeg, and/or instant coffee. You can substitute cocoa powder or ground nuts for equal amounts of flour. You can dip them in melted chocolate or drizzle them with a simple glaze made with fruit juice and powdered sugar. The possibilities are endless.
As for me, I added cocoa powder and dissolved instant coffee to make a mocha shortbread. And here's where I make a confession: I messed up. Even though I increased the amount of sugar to counteract the bitterness of the coffee, the coffee flavor still ended up being too strong. This problem could have been easily solved by dipping the cookies in melted chocolate, but again, I made these with the intention of mailing them, and sending chocolate-dipped cookies would have resulted in the aforementioned melty, sticky mess. So here's the thing: I'm going to post the recipe as I made it, but I'm going to recommend you do one of three things:
1. Reduce the instant coffee to one tablespoon
2. Add in a half cup of mini chocolate chips
3. Dip the cookie in melted chocolate
Now that I think about it, these cookies would be amazing if you did all of the above.
Now, a funny picture of my magical sliding cookies:
Riddle me this: How did my perfectly spaced rows of cookie dough result in this? Did these cookies mosey themselves down to the bottom of the cookie sheets? I mean, yes, my kitchen is kind of tilted, which means that my oven is also tilted, and I've learned to adapt when making cakes and other treats that start out as liquidy batter, but this has never happened with cookies before.
An open note to Julia: These cookies need to be eaten with a glass of milk. Also, if you can afford to splurge on chocolate chips and feel like undertaking a tedious task, please dip these in chocolate. Melt the chocolate chips, dip the cookies halfway in chocolate, and put the cookies on waxed paper to let the chocolate harden. You can put them in the fridge to speed up the process.
Mocha Shortbread Cookies
1 cup (2 sticks) salted butter, softened
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 3/4 cups flour
1 tablespoon hot water
2 tablespoons instant coffee
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips (optional)
Dissolve instant coffee in hot water. Let cool.
Beat butter with powdered sugar until fluffy and smooth. Beat in vanilla and cooled dissolved coffee until combined. Add the cocoa powder and flour and mix until combined. Mix in chocolate chips, if using.
Form the dough into logs, wrap in plastic wrap, and chill in the fridge for at least 3 hours.
When you're ready to bake the cookies, preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Slice the cookies 1/2 to 3/4 inch thick. Bake for 11-14 minutes.