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.


  1. These cookies are lovely! Just what I’d like with a cup of coffee!

  2. what is vanilla paste? thanks!

  3. Vanilla paste is a concentrated vanilla extract that has flecks of vanilla bean seeds.

  4. Carrie @carrieloves

    OMG, I am living vicariously thru you… if I made those I would hide them & eat them all-by-myself!

  5. Mmm these sound good. I’m not usually a fan of chocolate dough cookies but these just looks so good and the name “intensely dark” makes me want them!

  6. Rachel,

    I love your site and try to come here at least weekly. Sorry to push it but do you buy the vanilla paste or actually reduce down vanilla extract with the bean? I’ve never heard of this stuff but it sounds divine. Can’t wait to make these cookies!

    Thanks for all your great work.


  7. Kennyg-That’s okay. I bought my vanilla paste (at Trader Joes but most baking/cooking stores have it). It comes in jars and even though it is called “paste” it is really just a thick liquid.
    You could just sub regular vanilla and I think it would work just fine in this recipe. Vanilla paste is pretty great though-worth tracking down.

  8. The pink sprinkles aren’t listed as one of the ingredients. Should so pretty a touch really be optional?

  9. I thought I’d leave the sprinkling up the reader. I did include it as a tip!

  10. OMG..This is my first visit to you blog.. and Oh dear..i was missing something big!

    Can i say that i love the pictures??!!! THOSE LOOK SO TASTYY!!

    is there any chance that you could do some Diet Recipes? and if you would take it step by step..i would be so much thankful..because i am a guy :S (or maybe you did a couple before..just link me)


  11. Those cookies are so striking with the pink contrasting with the dark chocolate, love it!

  12. Maher- Thanks for visiting. Actually these cookies are pretty low in fat for cookies- only 1/4 cup butter for over 2 dozen and of course, cocoa is fat free. Not bad for a sinfully rich cookie.

  13. I want a bite! I’m not a chocolate fan but these sure look like a chocolate-y dream!:)

  14. Just a comment on the vanilla paste, if you’re going to sub regular vanilla you should increase the amount a little bit since the paste is more intense than just the extract. I’m not sure of the proportion at the moment but if I think of it I’ll comment about it again.

  15. These cookies look absolutely decadent! Can’t wait to try them.

  16. aforkfulofspaghetti

    Oh my word. I am going to HAVE to try baking some of these at the weekend. So pretty!

  17. Fi, You’re right, you normally do have to use less extract than paste, but I think a 1 to 1 subsitution would work fine for this particular recipe. The dough could withstand a little extra liquid.

  18. They’re so pretty with the pink and red sprinkles. Very Valentines-y.

  19. Those are the most beautiful cookies I’ve ever seen! I wish they were in front of me right now!

  20. Oh. My. Goodness. These look amazing!

    I’m excited to look for vanilla paste at Trader Joe’s…I’ve never really seen it in recipes before.

  21. These look absolutely scrumptios – so dark and chocolatey.

  22. Your cookies look gorgeous with the pink sprinkles. Love it.

  23. I like the idea of rolling the sides of the cookies with the sprinkles. Great pictures, looks delicious!

  24. These cookies look and sound outstanding. I like dark chocolate much better than milk chocolate, omg these cookies sound great!

  25. Those cookies look delicious. I have always wondered what it meant to be an icebox cookie…

  26. my god those look delicious! thank you for the beautiful pictures and exciting ideas every day! i am breaking into the cooking world (upgrading from eating fried eggs, or hot dogs everyday), just having purchased my first crock pot ad am always on the look out for new recipes from your blog.

  27. so i made these cookies last night and they ARE delicious! I couldn’t find espresso powder at my grocery but used instant coffee instead- worked fine. One comment about the directions- you forgot to say when to add eggs! I realized toward the end I hadn’t incorporated them yet but put them in anyway and they ended up being just fine. Thanks!

  28. I can’t wait to try these!

  29. The directions for me are a no brainer but for someone not so skilled not listing when to add the eggs or baking powder might be a disaster. Oops!

  30. Jerzee, I don’t see the problems with the recipe you are referencing.

  31. Um, I did notice the lack of instruction for the eggs and baking powder, though it looks like you have since edited. I noticed the missing ingredients when I made them on Sunday and cookies turned out great. In addition to being adorable, the sprinkles added a nice crunch.

  32. You also left out when to add the baking soda…I added it with the rest of the dry ingredients.

    My dough stayed sticky even after two hours in the freezer—how did you get it sliceable? I am going to see how they are tomorrow.

  33. ah, just saw the previous comment and the correction in your post about the baking powder. whoops.

  34. The mistake had been fixed for sometime, the same day as the post-perhaps you were viewing a cached version?

    Sl: As It is a sticky type dough when room temperature, but it is much less sticky when fully cooled. I refrigerated it for about 2 hours, then it sliced perfectly. It did start to soften after about 1 1/2 dozen cookies, so I refrigerated it again for a few minutes before I sliced the rest. Maybe your refrigerator is not as cold as mine? Overworked dough can take longer to cool as well.

  35. These were so good! They were still too soft to slice after about 4 hours in the fridge, so I mixed in some more flour (about 1/4 cup) and then put them back in the fridge to chill and then they worked perfectly. For some reason everything I have made lately takes more flour than the recipe calls for – maybe something weird is going on with my flour or it’s more humid here than I realize! Thanks for the delicious and super easy recipe!


  36. These cookies were so delicious! Although my batter never firmed up enough to slice, they tasted rich and chocolatey. Thanks!

  37. just made the batter, and accidently put it in the freezer instead of the fridge and then reread the directions.

    Is it ok to put the dough in the freezer? if Im going to use it within the week.

    Im baking cookies for the nurses at Dana farber Cancer Institute for xmas and need a head start but dont want to bake them to early.

  38. wow, these looks so dark and delicious.