Sugar cookies always look so pretty, but most of the time they taste bland and leave me feeling like I just wasted a lot of calories on what could have been a delicious chocolate chip cookie. Instead of reading through all the sugar cookie recipes I could find in hopes of lucking out on one that actually tastes great, I made Dorie's espresso shortbread minus the espresso. These are pure and buttery with excellent texture. It almost feels like waste to slather it up with cloyingly sweet icing, which also only took me hours to decorate. For decorating cookies, I would definitely recommend royal icing over the glaze kind simply because it has a nicer finish. I prefer the texture of it better too even though the meringue powder has a slightly sour aftertaste. To colour the icing, it is important to use the icing gels instead of food colouring because that might dilute the royal icing too much. When using royal, you also have to make sure to keep it covered because it dries quickly. For one batch of cookies, you'll probably only need to make half a batch of royal icing..
Espresso-Chocolate Shortbread Cookies
Adapted from Dorie Greenspan
Baking: From My Home to Yours
Makes 32 cookies
1 tablespoon instant espresso powder (I omitted)
1 tablespoon boiling water (I omitted)
2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate finely chopped, or 3/4 cup store-bought mini chocolate chips (I omitted)
Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting (optional)
Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter and confectioners’ sugar together on medium speed for about 3 minutes, until the mixture is very smooth. Beat in the vanilla and, then reduce the mixer speed to low and add the flour, mixing only until it disappears into the dough. Don’t work the dough much once the flour is incorporated.
Form 2 discs and refrigerate the dough for 2 hours.
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line baking sheets with parchment or silicone mats.
Roll the dough into a 9 x 10 1/2 inch rectangle that’s 1/4 inch thick or your desired thickness. Use cutters to cut out shapes.
Bake one tray at a time for 18 to 20 minutes, rotating at the midway point. The shortbreads will be very pale–they shouldn’t take on much color. Let cookies cool for 5 minutes and then transfer the cookies to a rack.
In a large bowl of a clean electric mixer fitted with a whip attachment, whip to stiff peaks:
1/4 cup meringue powder
1/2 cup cold water
Add and mix at low speed with a paddle attachment, until combined:
1 lb confectioner's sugar
Continue mixing at high speed for 5 to 8 minutes, or until the icing is stiff.
Add and mix on low speed until combined:
1/2 tsp. lemon juice
Cover the bowl with a damp cloth while you are working with or coloring the icing, or immediately place it in an airtight container or pastry cone; otherwise, a hard crust will quickly form as it dries.
Yield: 4 cups