Recipe: Chocolate Espresso Sugar Cookies

As I’ve mentioned before, Chester’s preferences for desserts are not as wide ranging as mine. But, he’ll never turn down a cookie. So, instead of a birthday cake, I offered to make cookies instead.

He browsed through some of my cookbooks and came across a recipe for mocha shortbread cookies. They sounded great, but as I reviewed the contents my baking cabinet, I realized that I didn’t have all of the ingredients on hand. All was not lost, however, as I had everything I needed for sugar cookies.

I added cocoa powder and espresso powder to a really simple sugar cookie recipe that I discovered around the holidays last year. The end product was pretty amazing. The coffee and chocolate combo provided a rich flavor and the texture was somewhere between a cookie and a brownie—crisp around the edges and chewy in the middle. I sprinkled the tops with extra espresso powder while the cookies where still warm for a bit of an extra kick, but you could skip this is you don’t want the espresso flavor to be too strong.

Baking a practice batch of cookies really got me in the mood for holiday baking. I’ve got four types of cookies on my list to make this year: chocolate with white chocolate chips, peanut butter sandwich with chocolate ganache, roll-out butter, and lemon. Hopefully, they’ll all turn out well and I can share the results! What’s on your list to bake this year?

Chocolate Espresso Sugar Cookies

Adapted from McCormick’s Vanilla Sugar Cookie Recipe

Yield: About 3 dozen (note: I used a medium size cookie scoop, which holds about a 1 ½ tablespoon of dough)

What you will need

  • 2 3/4 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons Cream of Tartar
  • 1 ½ teaspoons espresso powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup of unsweetened, Dutch process cocoa powder
  • 1 ½ cups sugar
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • Additional sugar, for rolling
  • Additional espresso powder, for sprinkling

What to do

  1. Mix first six ingredients (flour through cocoa powder) together in a medium bowl.
  2. Using an electric mixer, cream sugar and butter on medium speed until fluffy. Add eggs one at a time and vanilla. Mix well. Gradually add flour mixture on low speed until all ingredients are incorporated.
  3. Refrigerate dough until firm (at least two hours).
  4. Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. Use a cookie scoop to shape dough and roll in additional sugar before placing on cookie sheet.
  5. Bake approximately 10 minutes, until cookies are just set. Sprinkle with additional espresso and cool on baking sheet for one minute.
  6. Move to wire racks to finish cooling.
Advertisements

Strawberry Shortcake Cookies

Strawberries are one of my favorite things about summer. Oh, and fireworks. I like those too. (Speaking of, I hope everyone enjoyed their Fourth of July weekend).

Last year, it seemed like we had a bad crop. The one that I purchased were a sickly shade of pale red; and even those that had a vibrant color were totally flavorless.  Fortunately, it’s been the total opposite this year. Even the strawberries I get from our local Shop Rite have been colorful and sweet. I love to eat them on their own as a mid-morning snack, but I decided that I had to bake something with them, too.

I was excited to come across a recipe for Strawberry Shortcake Cookies and thought I’d give them a try—well two tries. Strawberries can be pretty temperamental, but I am persistent.

The first batch that I made did not turn out at all. The strawberry, sugar, and lemon juice mixture produced a lot of liquid. As a result, the dough did not come together well in the mixing bowl, and they didn’t set up well when baked. I learned my lesson for the second time around, and poured the mixture through a strainer before adding it to the dry ingredients. This batch would have been perfect, had it not been for my crazy oven. We’ve lived in our house about two years now, and I just can’t get the hang of that oven. Some things take longer to bake than the recipe states, and other things need to be yanked out of the oven way early (I’m sure Martha never has to deal with this. She probably has the perfect oven). My first dozen came out a bit well done on the bottom, but after I moved the oven rack around a bit and adjusted the timing, and the second dozen baked to a perfect golden brown.

These cookies are actually more like scones—soft and fluffy on the inside, and slightly crunchy and crispy on the outside. You can taste all of the ingredients individually in these cookies—from the sweetness of the strawberries, to the richness of the cream, to the lightness of the lemon–and the coarse salt is a nice balance that brings together all of the flavors. They look so pretty with the little bits of strawberry peeking out, and are less labor intensive than a strawberry shortcake or pie. I would definitely make these again—I’m sure that they will be perfect the third time around. Luckily, strawberry season is still young, and I should be able to get some good ones around here through August.

As a side note, the recipe lies when it says it makes about 3 dozen cookies. I got a little over 20 cookies out of the dough, even though I used the tablespoon measurement suggested by the recipe. These cookies were best on the day that they were made. I served them with vanilla ice cream (the best batch I’ve made to date, since I sprung for real vanilla bean), but whipped cream or even a glass of milk would be a nice complement to them. By the following day, they had already become kind of soft and a bit soggy, even when stored in an airtight container.

Do you have any good strawberry recipes I should know about?

Strawberry Shortcake Cookies

By: Martha Stewart

Ingredients:

  •  2 cups diced strawberries
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup, plus one tablespoon sugar
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 6 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 2/3 cup heavy cream
  • Sanding sugar for sprinkling over cookies (I skipped this, as I didn’t have sanding sugar. I don’t think anyone missed it)

What To Do:

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
  • In a small bowl, combine strawberries lemon juice, and two tablespoons sugar. Combine dry ingredients in a separate, large bowl.
  • Add butter in to dry mixture, using a pastry cutter or your hands. Mix together until it looks like coarse crumbs. Stir in cream, just until dough comes together.
  • Pour strawberry mixture through a strainer to get rid of excess liquid. Add strawberries to the dough mixture.
  • Shape dough into tablespoon sized balls and place on baking sheet (Tip: if you are baking one sheet at a time in your oven, be aware that as your dough sits out, the strawberries may release some more liquid that breaks apart the dough. I filled my other cookie sheet and put it in the fridge while the first batch was baking and that seemed to minimize this).
  • Sprinkle with sanding sugar, if using, and bake for about 24 minutes.
  • Let cool on wire rack.

Lemon Ice Cream and Madeleine Cookies

It seems like Easter was ages ago, but I haven’t gotten around to writing a post about the fabulous dessert that I made. So, here it is.

By now, you should know that I love ice cream. My favorite kitchen appliance is my Cuisinart Ice Cream Maker, which was a housewarming gift from my fabulous co-workers at DU (If we had a freezer in the office that could hold more than four Lean Cuisines, I would be happy to bring you all samples). Anytime an occasion calls for a dessert, I make Chester haul it up from the basement and I keep the bowl in the freezer at all times so I can be ready to whip up a batch of ice cream at a moment’s notice.

We decided on a slightly heavy menu for Easter dinner—pork roast, cheesy potatoes, asparagus, sautéed mushrooms and onions, and my aunt’s French bread. So, we wanted to keep dessert light and decided to make a lemon ice cream. I was skeptical at first—how can lemon and cream go together? But, my aunt had mentioned that she had the flavor at the Amish stand in the Reading Terminal Market; the Amish have never steered me wrong when it comes to dessert, so I reasoned that it must be amazing. To go with it, I decided to make Madeleine cookies, thinking that their pretty shell shape, delicate flavor (with a hint of lemon), and light, cakey texture would pair well with the ice cream. Plus, it gave me an excuse to go out and buy a new baking gadget.

My new madeleine pan. Thanks for the coupon, Bed, Bath & Beyond.

About the Ice Cream

There are any number of ice cream recipes out there, but those with a custard style base, like I used for the lemon ice cream are generally the best. This style contains sugar, eggs, and milk and/or cream. The finished product is rich and creamy and tends not to form ice crystals when it sits in the freezer. The eggs can be a bit tricky at first because you need to make sure that you cook them at a high enough heat to reduce the chance of food-bourne illness, but not high enough to curdle the mixture. In addition, you need to whisk the mixture continuously so that the eggs don’t scramble (the first time I made ice cream, I fished quite a few pieces of scrambled eggs out of the custard before freezing it). But, once you know a basic recipe for a custard style base, you can make it in about five minutes and add anything you like to it (fruit, chocolate chips, candy, etc.) to make an infinite number of flavors.

Lemon Ice Cream

Makes About One Quart

Ingredients:


  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated lemon zest
  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 cups half-and-half
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Preparation:

  1. Zest and juice lemons.

Lest you think I don't know how to work basic kitchen gadgets, here are few shots of me in action. I even have an apron, so you know I'm serious.

  1. In a saucepan whisk together the zest, the lemon juice, the sugar, and the eggs.

  1. Whisk in 1 cup of the half-and-half and the vanilla, and cook the mixture over moderately high heat, whisking constantly, until it just comes to a simmer.
  1. Strain the custard through a fine sieve into a bowl, pressing hard on the zest, and chill it, covered with plastic wrap, until it is cold.

  1. Whisk in the remaining 1 cup half-and-half.
  1. Freeze the mixture in an ice-cream freezer according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

  1. Store in an airtight container and allow to ripen in freezer for a couple of hours. Random tip–If you have a rice cooker, the spoon that comes with it is an excellent tool for scraping down your ice cream maker freezer bowl and transferring the finished ice cream to a container.

About the Madeleine Cookies

From the Bon Appetit Desserts: The Cookbook for All Things Sweet and Wonderful


Ingredients:


  • 2 large eggs
  • 2/3 cup of sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon grated lemon peel
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 10 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, then cooled slightly
  • Powdered sugar (for dusting)

Preparation:

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F and generously butter and flour pan for large madeleines (I used Pam for Baking spray to grease the pans)
  1. Using electric mixer, beat eggs and 2/3 cup sugar in large bowl just to blend. Beat in vanilla, lemon peel and salt. Add flour; beat just until blended. Gradually add cooled melted butter in steady stream, beating just until blended.

Looks like cake batter!

  1. Spoon 1 tablespoon batter into each indentation in pan. Bake until puffed and brown, about 10-16 minutes. Cool 5 minutes. Gently remove from pan. Repeat process, buttering and flouring pan before each batch.

  1. Random tip–rinse out the pan with cold water between batches. I found that this keeps the cookies from burning (probably because it cools the pan down a bit).

Just like what they have at Starbucks!

The Finished Product

My mom has had those ice cream dishes since I was maybe five? I think my dad brought them home from Sealtest, back in the day. I used to think they were beautiful and dreamed about having the same set when I grew up.

Once again, the Amish know what’s good. The ice cream tasted just like the filling inside of a lemon pie. It had the tart and refreshing qualities of a sorbet, but was so much richer and creamier. Just as I thought the Madeleine cookies were the perfect complement to it—since they don’t have a ton of flour in them, they aren’t dense and filling, but their cake-like texture meant that they soaked up the ice cream like a sponge. I was worried at first because some of the cookies in the end slots of the pan got slightly burnt, but they had a caramelized, rather than charred flavor.

I should mention here that my brother contributed to the dessert by helping to make whipped cream. By this, I mean he poured the cream into a bowl, went around two or three times with a whisk, decided he was tired, and made my mom and I finish the project. Then, he took all the credit for improving my dessert.

Whatever. I know that the lemon ice cream was the star of the show–we practically licked the containers clean. I think it’s going to be my go-to flavor for the upcoming summer months.  So. Much. Yum.