Thursday, February 26, 2009

Espresso Shortbread for the Week of Doom

I don't even know what to say about this week except that forks were looking like mighty fine objects to slowly advance into my skull. I took these pictures last Sunday but The Week of Doom prevented me from posting until today.

On Sunday I finished a giant 20 page project and decided to celebrate and bake. Except that nobody bothered to tell me that the due date of the project was changed while I was out of the room and wouldn't be due for another week. Fork to brain incident #1. Anyways, I eventually decided on making a chocolate-dipped espresso shortbread recipe from my cookie magazine that I'm baking my way through.

This (and the other shortbread recipe from the magazine) is one of the better recipes I've tried, I'm a big fan of shortbread. I thought the coffee flavor of these guys could be stronger but I still liked them a lot. Next time I wouldn't roll them as thin but I've only made shortbread once before and I don't really know what I'm doing. It could've been a lot worse, like the time I made pumpkin pie and forgot to add sugar. DELICIOUS.

Chocolate-Dipped Espresso Shortbread, from Fine Cooking


8 oz. (1 cup) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tsp. table salt
10 oz. (2-1/4 cups) all-purpose flour
2 Tbs. finely ground espresso coffee beans

For the dipping chocolate
9 oz. semisweet chocolate, chopped
1 Tbs. vegetable shortening:

Line two baking sheets with parchment. Combine the butter, sugar, and salt in a stand mixer bowl (use the paddle attachment) or a large mixing bowl. Mix on low speed until the butter combines with the sugar but isn't perfectly smooth, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the flour and ground espresso and mix on low speed, scraping the bowl frequently, until the dough has just about pulled together, about 3 minutes; don't overmix.

On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough to about 1/4 inch thick. Aim for a uniform thickness to ensure even baking. Using a heart or other shape cookie cutter, cut out shapes as close to one another as possible. Press the scraps together, roll them out, and cut out more cookies. If the dough becomes sticky, refrigerate it briefly. Arrange the cookies on two parchment-lined baking sheets and refrigerate until chilled, at least 20 minutes.

Position oven racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and heat the oven to 300° F. Bake the cookies until golden on the bottom and edges and pale to golden on top, 30 minutes to 1 hour. (After 15 minutes, swap the position of the baking sheets and rotate them 180 degrees for even baking.) If the cookies are done before 30 minutes, reduce the oven temperature to 275° F for the remaining batches; if they take longer than 1 hour, increase the temperature to 325° F.

Dip the baked, cooled cookies:

Set a sheet of parchment or waxed paper on a work surface. Put the chocolate and shortening in a small heatproof bowl and set the bowl over a pan of simmering water. Melt the chocolate, stirring, until it's smooth and warm; don't let it get hot. Dip half of each cookie into the chocolate. Set the cookies on the parchment and let the chocolate set up at room temperature, about 2 hours.


I don't get these baking instructions. Bake somewhere between 30 minutes and an hour? Uh, that's a big range, especially when a minute or two extra could ruin these. I ended up baking them about 25 minutes but I did make mine a bit thin. Also, I had to chill the dough some, it was reeeeeally soft and hard to work with. But other than that, it was a-okay. Oh: I melted the chocolate and shortening in the microwave. Worked fine.

I made these while wearing my robe, which is not at all surprising if you know me and my disdain for clothing, especially pants and socks. Brian happened to come in as I noticed that one of my sleeves was covered in flour. I mused out loud, "Hm, I should probably stop baking in my robe..." to which Brian said, "Um, yeah. About that. It is acceptable to wear a robe an hour before bed and up to an hour after waking up. Not, you know, NINETY PERCENT OF YOUR WAKING DAY." But this is coming from somebody who A) survived for a good year on white rice and ranch dressing to save money and B) once became so drunk that he forgot how to read. He cannot be trusted.

Joe has been making tons of bread lately. Joe decided it looked like fun after I made a few loaves of bread at the beginning of the year. And then he quickly became obsessed with it and I have been literally unable to make more bread because Joe is undoubtedly already making five different loaves that day. He's been hinting that I should post some of his bread on the blog, which I've been hesitant to do because I like to post recipes and Joe's recipes are 20 pages long from a scary looking bread encyclopedia. But here's one anyways, sans recipe: cheese bread!

I loved this bread, which is unsurprising since it combined simple carbs with cheese which made my bones turn to jelly. Then I had a feeding tube installed so that no time would be wasted in that time consuming chewing stuff. Luckily, it's gone now and I can stop gorging on it.

In other news, today is Joe's and my five year anniversary. I won't get too mushy, I'll just say that Joe's presence is probably the sole reason why the forks were not actually forcibly inserted into my brain this week. The Tiffany's ring he got me didn't hurt either. I love you.

Our anniversary gift from Brian was him cleaning the shower curtain. Which actually was a great gift, since we had a few mold colonies the size of several small continents growing on it. I was starting to fear for my life whenever I took a shower.

Stay tuned for February's Daring Bakers challenge!


Katy said...

Chocolate covered shortbread! Looks decadent and elegant. Well done.

I chuckle everytime I visit your blog.

Sophie said...

Thanks Katy! <3

Lisa said...

Those look gorgeous and so delicious! Did you use Callebaut semisweet to dip them in? I do love Callebaut, and it's pretty inexpensive for such a high quality chocolate, especially the calets.

That said, loved reading this entry..the robe scenario had me in tears! Also, Congrats on your 5year anniversary! :)

meeuh said...

please, please, please have joe send me that bread recipe. i needs it.

Sophie said...

Lisa -- I did indeed use callebaut for dipping, I bought a big block of it to use in the flourless chocolate cake had some left over for other uses, such as shoveling into my face. Thanks!

Mia -- Joe says he'll get you the recipe! He said it would be hard without a kitchenaid but I'm sure you manage.

Anupam said...

Thanks for the nice post.