Here in the Pacific Northwest coffee is a big deal. I think it is all the rain.......I know it is all the rain. Quite frankly the only way you can maintain some sanity when you are in the midst of a spring where it has been raining constantly for three months straight is to chug as much coffee as you can. There are times when I think it is literally liquid sunshine. So it is an added bonus when not only is the coffee really good, but also when there is a sweet accompaniment to dunk in your hot cup of happiness. There is a local coffee company who's coffee I go out of my way to obtain, and I can with all certainty dedicate my marriage to this coffee, for without Stumptown, I may not have my dear husband. So as luck would have it (my bank account may not agree), a coffee shop carrying Stumptown coffee opened up within walking distance from my office. So who would have guessed that the other day I happened to be at this very establishment with my lovely British co-worker (who also shares my deep affection for coffee), when we spotted them, these lovely dunking jewels that were just begging to become intimate friends with our Americanos.
So with tongues wagging we purchased these biscuits (or cookies as we like to call them here in the states) and tested them with our delicious coffee. Needless to say, we were instantly hooked. They were a delicious buttery, crispy shortbread dotted with yummy hazelnuts, with half the cookie dunked in good dark chocolate. Now that we had found our new afternoon obsession, we made the trek to that coffee shop practically everyday for the next week, hoping to gobble up another delicious cookie, but to no avail the cookies eluded us. By the end of the week I was in a panic, I had to have the damn things...........so I decided I would crack this cookie code and make them myself.
So I went home that night, and madly tried to recreate this mystery cookie, thinking back to the flavors, the texture, and at about nine o'clock that night I had it, my Frankenstein was complete, and well, in my opinion, it was spot on. I think Mary Shelley would be proud.
Hazelnut Espresso Shortbread Cookies
2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups butter at room temperature
1/2 cup chopped hazelnuts
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1 tablespoon espresso powder
1 tablespoon hot water
16 oz dark chocolate melted
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a small bowl combine the espresso powder and hot water
and stir until the espresso powder is dissolved. In a mixer with a paddle attachment mix the butter and sugar until smooth and well combined. Add the vanilla and espresso and mix again until well combined. Add the flour and mix until just combined, then add the hazelnuts and quickly mix.
Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead the dough a few times until it starts to crack a little. Roll the dough out until it is about a 1/2 of an inch thick. Cut the dough into rounds using a 3 inch round cookie cutter and place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake cookies for 15-18 minutes, or until cookies look slightly browned around the edges. Remove cookies from oven and let them sit on cookie sheet for an additional 5 minutes. Place cookies on rack and cool completely. Repeat with remaining dough. Melt chocolate in a double boiler and dip each cookie half way up in the chocolate. Place on rack and leave until chocolate sets (unless you just can't control yourself). Makes about 2 dozen.
I think these cookies are delicious without the chocolate too, so you could leave some of them naked!