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Chocolate Shortbread Cookies with toasted walnuts and a hint of espresso.
One of our favorite things about a great shortbread cookie is the fantastic texture. A really good shortbread cookie is buttery, not too sweet, and melt-in-your mouth delicious. These chocolate shortbread cookies are all that and have a crunchy coating of coarse sugar for fun sweet textural contrast.
Are chocolate shortbread cookies easy to make?
I believe shortbread cookies are some of the easiest cookies you can make at home. Even if you’re not an experienced baker, this basic recipe seems fool-proof. The dough comes together in minutes with common pantry ingredients you probably already have at home.
Once the ingredients are blended together, the dough is rolled into a log and wrapped in parchment or wax paper. Next, the cookie dough is refrigerated for about 4 hours before being sliced and baked. This shortbread cookie dough can also be refrigerated for up to 4 days before baking making these a great make-ahead treat.
Once the dough is well chilled, the log is brushed lightly with an egg wash then coated in coarse sugar. Finally, the dough is sliced into 1/2-inch rounds and baked for 18 minutes.
You don’t even have to bake the entire batch of 24 cookies all in one day. Slice and bake a few as needed, or when you want a fresh from the oven sweet treat!
These delicious cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for about 5 days. They also travel well making them great for lunchboxes, picnics or gatherings.
Can you freeze Chocolate Shortbread Cookies?
There are several options for freezing shortbread cookies.
- First, you can freeze the dough log before brushing on the egg wash and sugar coating. Well sealed, this shortbread cookie dough will keep in the freezer for up to a month. Thaw the log in the refrigerator overnight before coating and slicing.
- You can also flash freeze the cookie dough rounds after they are sliced, but before they’re baked. Store in layers between wax paper in a well sealed container. This is my favorite shortcut as you have the ability to bake just what’s needed, on demand! Need a chocolate cookie fix? Bake a cookie dough round or two for an afternoon pick-me-up. These cookies are great with a cup of coffee or glass of milk.
- Add a few minutes to the baking time if using frozen cookie dough, or allow them to rest at room temperature about 30 minutes, while the oven is preheating.
- Baked cookies can also be frozen, well sealed for up to 2 months.
What is the best kind of sugar to coat the cookie dough?
Any kind of coarse sugar works well as a coating for these shortbread cookies. I have a few favorites like turbinado sugar, Sugar in the Raw organic cane sugar, or Bob’s Red Mill Decorative Sparkling Sugar pictured above. All these coarse sugars are readily available at your local grocery store.
Feel free to skip the coarse sugar coating and use finely chopped nuts instead. You can also substitute chocolate chips or chopped chocolate shards in place of the walnuts, if desired. This cookie recipe is highly adaptable and very forgiving!
Do you have to use espresso powder in these cookies?
You don’t have to add espresso powder to any of our chocolate recipes, but I hope you will try it. The hint of espresso elevates the chocolate flavor in all baked goods. Our favorite espresso powder can be purchased from King Arthur Flour, or Amazon. Check the link below for more information.
Also, check your local grocery store for instant espresso powder found in the coffee section. Whatever brand you use, make sure to dissolve the espresso powder in liquid before adding it to your baked goods. I often mix espresso powder in a little vanilla, stirring until dissolved. Easy peasy!
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Buttery, crisp shortbread cookies with plenty of chocolate flavor and a nice sugary crunch
- 1 ⅓ cups all-purpose flour (158g)
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ⅓ cup unsweetened cocoa powder (27g)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¼ teaspoon espresso powder
- 10 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature (5oz or 140g)
- ½ cup powdered sugar (57g)
- 2 tablespoons light brown sugar, packed
- ¾ cup toasted walnuts, rough chopped (3oz or 85g)
- 1 large egg yolk, lightly beaten with 1 teaspoon water (for coating the cookie dough log)
- ¼ cup turbinado or other coarse sugar for rolling
- Fine flake sea salt for garnish, optional
- In a medium mixing bowl whisk together the flour, salt and cocoa powder. Set aside
- In a small measuring cup combine the vanilla and espresso powder. Mix until dissolved.
- In a large mixing bowl beat the soft butter with an electric mixer for 1 minute or until smooth. Add the powdered sugar and brown sugar. Blend on medium until combined. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula, and blend again.
- Add the vanilla and mix just until incorporated.
- Add the flour in three additions and mix on low speed until incorporated. The dough will seem a little dry, but keep mixing, it will come together.
- Add the walnuts to the cookie dough and mix together using a wooden spoon, or mix by hand.
- Place the dough on a large piece of wax or parchment paper. Form the dough into a log 12-inches long and about 1 1/2-inches thick. Wrap the dough tightly and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight.
To bake preheat oven to 350° F.
- Line two baking sheets with parchment paper, set aside.
Remove the dough from the refrigerator while preparing the egg wash. Whisk together the egg yolk and water. Lightly brush the entire log with the egg wash. Pour coarse sugar down the middle of a piece of parchment or wax paper. Roll the dough log in the sugar to coat, pressing down firmly to adhere.
Using a large, thin, sharp knife, slice the log into 24 (½-inch) rounds. Place the cookies on the prepared cookies sheets about 1-inch apart.
- Lightly sprinkle the tops of each cookie with sea salt, if using. Bake for 16-20 minutes or until the cookies are set and you start to smell baking chocolate. Cool on a wire rack and store in an airtight container.
PRO TIP: Lay a ruler next to the cookie dough log and make hashmarks with a knife at 1/2-inch intervals. This makes it easier to slice the dough into similar size cookies.
- When slicing the cookies, use a sawing motion if needed to get through a large walnut. If the cookie dough splits or breaks apart, just piece the dough back together into a round. No worries!
- The cookie dough can be made ahead and stored tightly wrapped in parchment and plastic wrap for 4 days before baking. The dough can also be frozen for up to a month. Defrost frozen dough in the refrigerator for about 4 hours before coating, slicing and baking. Or slice the cookie rounds and then freeze.
- Don’t chop the walnuts too small, you’ll want some chunks, not just pieces.
Here are a few more shortbread cookie recipes you might enjoy: