Tender Chocolate Shortbread Cookies with Roasted Almonds, Espresso and Cayenne.
Melt-in-your-mouth dark chocolate shortbread cookies laced with roasted almonds, espresso, a hint of cayenne pepper, and rolled in caramely sweet, crunchy turbinado sugar.
Oh my, but these chocolate shortbread cookies are addictive. They are buttery, not too sweet, speckled with roasted almonds and laced with espresso and cayenne pepper. Cayenne pepper, you ask? Yes, indeed. Cayenne is absolutely lovely with dark chocolate. The trick is to add just enough to deepen the chocolate flavor and add a bit of a kick without going overboard. I should know. As my family will tell you, going overboard with cayenne is something I am extremely susceptible to.
The problem is that I just LOVE what cayenne does to other flavors, intensifying them and adding complexity to dishes that might otherwise be bland. So, I add just a teeny tiny bit more, and then just a teeny tiny bit more, and a teeny tiny bit more, until my poor family sits around the dinner table sweating and trying their best to choke down a dinner much to spicy for their poor tender pallets. It’s a problem.
But for these, I got the amount of cayenne exactly right. Don’t be afraid, my dear reader. Each bite contains just a hint of spice. Just enough to make otherwise plain chocolate butter cookies interesting and intriguing. Well, the roasted almonds and turbinado sugar help with that too. They are kind of like Clark Kent before he turns into Superman. (Ok. They’re not that great. I might be exaggerating.) However, I am NOT exaggerating when I tell you they are addicting.
I mean, they’re small, which makes me feel like it’s ok to eat 2. (HA! I just ate 4 during the photo shoot.) They are the perfect afternoon coffee break cookie. Or, after dinner with vanilla ice cream and sips of espresso cookies. They would be absolutely decadent served with creme brûlée.
Eat them anyway you like and share them with whomever you wish. Just make them and enjoy.
On a side note, for all you non-coffee lovers – these are just a great without the espresso powder.
- ¾ cup almonds
- 3.5 oz. good quality dark chocolate(at least 70% cacao)
- 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1 cup whole wheat flour
- 2 tsp salt
- 2 tsp instant espresso powder
- ¼ tsp ground cayenne pepper
- 1 cup (8 oz) butter, at room temperature
- ½ cup + 2 tbsp. granulated sugar
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 1 large egg white, lightly beaten
- 1 cup turbinado sugar
- Spread almonds onto a baking sheet and roast in a 375 degree oven for about 10 minutes, until they have darkened slightly and the smell of roasting almonds starts to permeate your kitchen. Set aside to cool completely before proceeding with the recipe.
- Break the chocolate into pieces and add to the bowl of a food processor along with the roasted almonds, both flours, salt, espresso powder and cayenne. Pulse until the chocolate and almonds are ground to a fine meal.
- In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the butter on medium speed for about 20 seconds. Slowly pour in the sugar in a slow steady stream. Beat the butter and sugar on medium high speed for about 4 minutes, until fluffy and pale in color. Add the vanilla and beat until blended.
- Add the dry ingredients and mix on low speed just until the dough comes together, about 30 seconds.
- Lay out a long sheet of plastic wrap on a work surface and transfer the dough from the mixing bowl to the center of the plastic. With your hands, pat the dough into a rectangle approximately 7½ inches long and 6½ inches wide. Wrap the dough tightly in the plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to 1 week.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper. (If the dough has been in the refrigerator for longer than 4 hours, let it sit at room temperature for about 15 minutes to soften.)
- Spread a square of parchment paper onto a work surface and pour the turbinado sugar into the center. With the long side of the rectangle of dough lying towards you, cut the dough crosswise into five 1½ inch strips. Using a pasty brush, brush every side of a strip of dough with the beaten egg white. Dip each side into the sugar, pressing the sugar in slightly to completely cover each strip of dough. Repeat with each strip of dough. Slice the strips of dough crosswise into ½-inch cookies and place cut side up on the baking sheets.
- Bake one pan at a time (refrigerate second pan until the first batch is out of the oven) for 15-17 minutes, until the cookies have small cracks on the surface and appear set. Let cool completely on the pan.
- Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week.