January 23, 2008

Intensely Dark Chocolate Icebox Cookies

3/4 cup cocoa powder
3/4 cup flour
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon instant espresso powder, dissolved in 1 tablespoon water
4 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon vanilla paste
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 eggs


WARNING: this must be done a minimum of 2 hours before you want to bake the cookies.
Combine butter, sugars and vanilla and beat until fluffy. Add the espresso, eggs and mix. While the mixture is beating, add the cocoa, flour, baking powder and salt. Mix on until incorporated. Using a spatula, scrape the dough (it will be very thick and rather sticky) on a large piece of plastic wrap. Shape into a approximately 2 inch thick log. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Refrigerate the dough until it is firm (about 2 hours) or overnight*.

To bake:
Preheat the oven to 350. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper. Unwrap the dough and cut into 1/4 inch slices using a serrated knife (a bread knife works well). If the dough begins to soften as you cut, return it to the refrigerator to chill until it is firm again, normally about 5-10 minutes. Arrange the slices on the cookie sheets about 1/2 inch apart. Bake about 12 minutes or until they are just starting to brown on the bottom and the sides are no longer shiny.

Yield: about 2 1/2 dozen cookies

*You can actually keep the dough refrigerated for a week or so, slicing off as many cookies as you want to eat at a time.

Tip: Decorate the cookies by rolling the log of dough in coarse sugar or nonpareils before slicing.

My thoughts:
Today was one of those times when I went into the kitchen to make one thing (in this case, chocolate shortbread) and instead ended up making something totally different- rich, dark chocolate slice and bake cookies. I wanted an intensely chocolate cookie, but the thought of using a whole cup of butter for shortbread wasn't very appealing. So I just made the recipe up as a I went along and realized that this was a cookie batter that would benefit from some refrigeration. These cookies are mostly crisp, with a slightly soft center and an intense chocolate flavor that enhanced by a touch of espresso.

A little history for you. Icebox cookies first became popular when (surprise!) iceboxes and refrigerators became popular in American homes. Manufactures often included a booklet of recipes that required food to be refrigerated before eating with the purchase of a new refrigerator or ice box. The new technology meant that home cooks didn't have to bake an entire recipe of cookies at once, nor did they have to make the batter and bake the cookies on the same day which could be a bit of a time saver.

Tip: Have extra cookies? I used them as a crust for this yummy cheesecake.