Right from the start this cookie’s pitch black dough lets you know you’re in for something as chocolatey as it gets. It’s velvety soft and easy to work with, and, ok, maaaaybe a tiny bit messy. (My hands looked like I’d been weeding in the garden after I finished with it.) But that comes with the territory when you’re working with dark cocoa powder. It’s also tastes amazing raw, but don’t get carried away, save some for the cookies, they’re worth it. Seriously, these are some of the best cookies I’ve ever made, they are perfect for people who just want a little something decadent at the end of a meal. Don’t be surprised if people bypass your holiday pies for these babies. The doubled down chocolate with the espresso is intense and has the most incredible melt in your mouth shortbread texture, enhanced by the little nuggets of pure dark chocolate. Love.
They are so deep and dark that it was hard to get a good shot of them, they suck in the light like little chocolatey black holes. I had to sprinkle some confectioner’s sugar on top to make them show up. But don’t worry, what you can’t see, you will definitely taste.
I usually form my shortbread cookie dough into a log and chill it for easy slicing and baking. But in this dough the chocolate chips make it hard to get a clean slice, so I decided to roll it out instead. Rolling the dough takes a bit more effort, but results in a more uniform cookie, and worth it if you want to give them away or serve them to company. Luckily this dough is very cooperative, just be sure to roll it between plastic wrap so there’s no sticking. You could substitute mini chocolate chips and then use the slice and bake method if you want to, but I prefer the bigger chocolate payoff with regular chips.
I highly recommend these cookies for the holiday season. The dough or the baked cookies freeze well, and if you do freeze them after they’ve baked, skip the confectioner’s sugar step and do that after they’ve thawed.
This recipe is a slight alteration of my earlier Double Dark Chocolate Shortbread Cookies.
- 2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1/2 cup confectioner's sugar (plus more for topping)
- 1/2 cup unsweetened Dark (Dutch Processed) cocoa powder
- 1 Tbsp espresso powder
- 1 Tbsp vanilla bean paste (or vanilla extract)
- 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
- 1 cup dark chocolate chips
- Set oven to 335F
- Put the soft butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. If you don't have a stand mixer, use electric beaters, or a wooden spoon and elbow grease :)
- Sift the cocoa powder and the confectioner's sugar into the bowl, and cream with the butter. Start the machine on low or you will have a mess on your hands. Mix until everything is very smooth, no lumps.
- Beat in the espresso powder and the vanilla paste.
- Add the flour and mix until all the flour is incorporated, but don't overwork the dough. Fold in the chocolate chips.
- Turn the dough out onto a piece of plastic wrap, and form into a round flat disk, as if you were making pie dough. Wrap it up and refrigerate until firm enough to roll out, about an hour and a half.
- Roll the dough out between two large sheets of plastic wrap so you don't have to deal with it sticking. Roll to a thickness of about 1/3 inch. Cut out the cookies with a 2" cutter. Reform the dough as necessary. (If the dough is too firm to work with straight from the fridge, let it sit to soften for a while.)
- Put the dough on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake for about 12 minutes, The cookies may appear underdone, but they will firm up as they cool. Don't over bake.
- Let the cookies cool for several minutes on the tray, then carefully move them to a cooling rack.
- Dust with powdered sugar, if desired, after the cookies have cooled.
These cookies are fine cooking at anywhere between 325F and 350F, so I split the difference at 335F. In any event they will be done between 12 and 15 minutes. Don't over bake.
Tips for success:
1. Make sure your butter is actually soft. It needs to be soft to blend into the other ingredients smoothly. If you are careful you can soften cold butter in the microwave. I cut each stick into 3 or 4 pieces and microwave all of it for 10-15 second intervals until it is JUST soft but not melted.
2. Use dark cocoa powder, sometimes referred to as Dutched cocoa powder. I used hershey’s special dark cocoa powder, which is super dark.
3. Make sure your oven is at the correct temperature…these cookies need to cook somewhere between 325F and 350F.
4. Don’t over bake them, 12 minutes should do it. If your oven runs cool, add a minute or two.
5. Don’t make them larger than 2″ — they are very rich, and they are also delicate so you don’t want them too big. If you don’t have a 2″ cookie or biscuit cutter, get creative and look around your kitchen for something to use — I used a small wine glass turned upside down. Whatever you use, it will need to have a fine edge to cut through the dough cleanly.