Chewy Chocolate-Espresso Cookies

I got a little carried away and baked about 2,000 cookies.  It was fun, it was for a good cause and I was into it.  Until about the last hundred.  Around the last 100 I hit a lightly floured wall and just got so sick of my recipes.  I was making mostly Chewy Molasses, Mexican Hot Chocolate and Eggnog Snickerdoodles.  And Orange-Cardamom Snowflakes.  Those are all so good, and so pretty.  So I got to dreaming about a way I could put a twist on one of my most dependable recipes.  And these Chewy Chocolate-Espresso are the result.

Chewy Chocolate-Espresso Cookies

These have the wonderful, chewy texture and chocolatey flavor of my most-requested Mexican Hot Chocolate cookies.  Plus, the deep flavor of espresso.  They’re a perfect companion for morning coffee or after dinner drinks.  To get a nice, dark coffee flavor I used a packet of Starbucks Via instant coffee.  But I think you could use any instant coffee or espresso powder.  I just happened to have some VIA and know it’s widely available.

Chewy Chocolate-Espresso Cookies

But did I mention how easy they are?  No special equipment, just two bowls and a fork. You do not even need a mixer.  Sometimes I just dump everything in one bowl. You can whip up this dough, stick it in the fridge for up to three days, and then bake them whenever. If you have a cookie scoop they will all be the EXACT SAME SIZE, which is great if you like to intimidate others with your baking powers, but a teaspoon works too.  These will store on the counter in an airtight container for two weeks or in the freezer for 3-6 months.

Chewy Chocolate-Espresso Cookies

 

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Chewy Chocolate-Espresso Cookies
This is my most-requested recipe, no contest. These have the texture of a traditional chewy molasses cookie plus deep chocolate and espresso flavor. You can mix it up in one or two bowls, no mixer needed. These are great for make-ahead and store, freeze and ship well.
Chewy Chocolate-Espresso Cookies
Servings
cookies
Ingredients
Servings
cookies
Ingredients
Chewy Chocolate-Espresso Cookies
Instructions
  1. In a large bowl, stir the cocoa and molasses into the warm butter. In medium bowl combine flour, baking soda, and salt. Add 1 c. sugar, egg, vanilla extract and Via (or espresso powder) to the butter mixture. Stir dry ingredients into the wet. Cover and chill dough for as little as an hour or up to 3 days.
  2. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Roll 1 tablespoon of dough into balls (a cookie scoop is great for this), and roll them in the remaining white sugar. Place cookies 2 inches apart onto ungreased baking sheets.
  3. Bake cookies, one sheet at a time, for 12-14 minutes, until cookies are puffed, centers are set and they are beginning to form cracks. Do not overbake.
  4. Leave on sheets until they are cool enough to transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely.
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Eggnog Snickerdoodles

Over the next month I will be on a mission to post every cookie that’s ever been a standard in my Christmas cookie boxes.  I try each year to send a box of cookies to our relatives that we won’t be seeing during the season.  It’s a special tradition for me because deep down, way way deep down, I’m sort of a softy.  And nothing says Merry Christmas From Your Secretly Sentimental (emphasis on mental) Relative like a box of cookies.

Eggnog Snickerdoodles

 

Cookie box cookies need to check a few boxes.  Of course they’ve got to be delicious.  And they should be seasonally appropriate.  They’ve got to be sturdy enough for shipping and stay fresh long enough to arrive in good condition.  They also need to be freezable because I’m not, except every once in a while, going to make 8 different kinds of cookies in one day.  Because that’s MADNESS.  Unless that’s your way of doing things, in which case it’s a lovely tradition that makes you special.  And a little crazy.

Christmas Cookies

These Mexican Hot Chocolate Cookies are always on that list.  So are these Chewy Molasses Cookies.  And rounding out the holiday triumvirate are these amazing Eggnog Snickerdoodles.  Snickerdoodles and eggnog are a great pairing.  The eggy color of snickerdoodles, the creamy flavor of eggnog with a hint of nutmeg.  For my eggnog snickerdoodles I stick with a basic snickerdoodle recipe and simply add 1/4 teaspoon of eggnog extract, available here, and sub out the traditional cinnamon in the rolling sugar for a bit of nutmeg.  They are perfect and easy and just right for the holidays.

Eggnog Snickerdoodles

 

 

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Eggnog Snickerdoodles
Classic snickerdoodles with spot-on eggnog flavor. The perfect holiday cookie. They will store in an airtight container for two weeks on the counter, a few months in the freezer.
Eggnog Snickerdoodles
Servings
dozen
Ingredients
Servings
dozen
Ingredients
Eggnog Snickerdoodles
Instructions
  1. Cream butter and 1 1/2 cups sugar in a medium bowl. Add eggs, vanilla extract and eggnog extract. Beat to combine thoroughly.
  2. In a separate bowl combine flour, cream of tartar, baking soda and salt. Slowly add dry ingredients into wet ingredients, mixing until just combined.
  3. Chill dough overnight.
  4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine 1/3 cup sugar and ground nutmeg in a small bowl. Roll 1 tablespoon of dough into balls (a cookie scoop is great for this), and roll them in the sugar/nutmeg mixture. Place cookies 2 inches apart onto ungreased baking sheets.
  5. Bake for 10-11 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely.
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Gingerbread Birdhouse Cookies

Sometimes I like to overly complicate things.  For instance, I once based an entire dessert around a Caramelized Spruce Syrup that gets brushed onto the cake layers and is made by collecting spruce tips in the spring and tenderly caramelizing them.  Then I coordinated the rest of the cake around an IPA palate, frosted it twice and covered it in gold leaf, oversized gold-plated sprinkles and chocolate work.  I’m low-key like that.Gingerbread Birdhouse Cookies

But during the holidays, I like to keep things simpler.  I have so many things I want to do with the family and non-baking projects I want to try.  So as Christmas approaches, I tend to return to my trusted favorite recipes and use techniques that are tried and true.  These Gingerbread Birdhouse Cookies look charming and the woodgrain effect looks impressive but they really are quite simple to make.  You make a batch of gingerbread, roll out the dough using a mat with a woodgrain pattern on it, then cut out your birdhouses.  Icing them is easy because the snowy effect you’re going for doesn’t require precision or artistry, or even patience.  I frosted 6 dozen of these babies in about 30 minutes.

Gingerbread Birdhouse Cookies

 

Here are some tips for success:

  • Use fresh spices if you can.  These make your whole house smell like Christmas died and went to heaven then came back to life as a cookie.  The more potent the spices, the better your Christmas afterlife of a cookie will be.
  • Let the dough chill overnight.  Cold dough is essential to getting these rolled out easily and having the woodgrain mat release cleanly.  You can buy a mat here.  Gingerbread Birdhouse Cookies
  • After rolling out the dough, cut out your birdhouses.  You can buy a cutter like the one I use here.  I used a small fondant cutter to cut out the hole but you could use a drinking straw or a round piping tip to cut your hole.  I like to have the grain run top to bottom but if you run out of space and cut a few at odd angles, they still look cute.Gingerbread Birdhouse Cookies
  • Definitely put these in the freezer for at least 5 minutes in between cutting out and baking.  If the dough is too warm, the woodgrain pattern on the top will disappear.  Boo!  You want a nice crisp pattern on top, it’s what makes these cookies special.  Plus, you bought that woodgrain mat and you definitely cannot justify that non-essential baking equipment purchase if you can’t even see the pattern.Gingerbread Birdhouse Cookies
  • After these are baked and cooled, the fun part starts.  Icing these should be quick and easy.  Don’t fuss too much, they don’t all need to be the same.  Once you see them all lined up, they will be so adorable you’ll forget about criticizing your work.Gingerbread Birdhouse Cookies Gingerbread Birdhouse Cookies
  • Let these dry for four hours before stacking or storing.  They should last for a few months in the freezer in an airtight container.  Just be sure to let the container come to room temperature before opening it up so that condensation doesn’t ruin the shiny finish of the icing or make your cookies soggyGingerbread Birdhouse Cookies

Happy Baking!

 

 

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Gingerbread Birdhouses
Gingerbread Birdhouse Cookies
Servings
dozen
Ingredients
Servings
dozen
Ingredients
Gingerbread Birdhouse Cookies
Instructions
  1. In the bowl of your electric mixer (or with a hand mixer), beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy (about 3 minutes). Add the eggs, vanilla extract, and orange extract and beat until combined. In a large bowl combine flour, baking soda, salt and spices. Add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients and beat until you have a smooth dough. Divide the dough into thirds and wrap each third in plastic wrap. Refrigerate overnight.
  2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  3. Remove one third of the chilled dough from the refrigerator and, on a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to a thickness of 1/4 inch (1 cm). (Keep turning the dough as you roll, making sure the dough does not stick to the counter.) Lay your woodgrain mat over your dough and then roll your rolling pin over the mat. Use enough pressure to leave a pattern but not enough to significantly thin the dough. Remove the mat. Cut out your birdhouses and transfer cookies to baking sheet. Place the baking sheets with the unbaked cookies in the freezer for about 5 minutes to chill the dough which prevents the cookies from spreading and losing their shape while baking.
  4. Bake cookies for about 9-10 minutes or until the edges are just starting to brown. Remove from oven and let cookies cool on baking sheet for a few minutes before transferring to a wire rack to finish cooling. Decorate the birdhouses with the white icing as shown above. Be sure to let the icing dry at least 4 hours before storing.
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Orange-Cardamom Snowflake Cookies

These beauties always pop into my mind as I wait for the first snow of the year to fall.  They’re sweet and crisp, crunchy and buttery, with just the right amount of orange and cardamom.  And they are EASY.  My friends like to say, “Oh, maybe for you that’s easy!  Mine wouldn’t look like that.”  But I swear to sweet baby carrots, these are the most straightforward sugar cookies you are ever going to meet.  And because no snowflake is alike, variations and “mistakes” just make them more charming.Orange-Cardamom Snowflake Cookies Continue reading “Orange-Cardamom Snowflake Cookies”

Sparkly Pumpkin Cookies

I made some fun Black and White Halloween Cookies this week.  But when I went to take pictures they just didn’t pop.  What the pics really needed was some color for the black and white to stand out against.  So I revved the oven back up and baked some pumpkins from the same sugar cookie dough recipe I make all my holiday-themed cookies with.   Continue reading “Sparkly Pumpkin Cookies”

Black and White Halloween Cookies

I don’t usually dress up for halloween.  There was a Bridezilla costume in 2014 that involved a thrift-store wedding dress, blond wig and a t-rex mask, but that’s the exception, not the rule. But I love making Halloween cookies.  The kids always get really into it and it’s the project that reminds me that all the fun holiday baking is just around the corner.  I usually try to keep things simple, using the same basic sugar cookie recipe I use for all of my holiday-themed cookies (like these bunnies).  These don’t require any piping tips or fancy techniques, you can make them with supplies from your grocery store’s baking aisle. Continue reading “Black and White Halloween Cookies”

Pumpkin Cake With Molasses Cream Cheese Frosting

Pumpkin Cake With Molasses Cream Cheese FrostingThis frosting is the best baking idea I’ve had in like a year.  I’m sort of over pumpkin honestly so when I got a hankering for a cozy fall cake, I didn’t really know where to turn.  I’m not an apple gal and carrot cake is made of vegetables.  And nuts.  And raisins.  Come on. Continue reading “Pumpkin Cake With Molasses Cream Cheese Frosting”

Soft Chai Snickerdoodles

Soft Chai Snickerdoodles

I used to work for a wedding photographer back in the day, before digital photography was a thing.  He was very eccentric, had a lot of odd habits and some very strong opinions.  He once leapt from a moving train that had gone express mid-route to avoid being late to class.  He woke up the next day in the hospital with a nasty head injury then ran a marathon 3 days later.  To save time while eating he would mash entire slices of bread into dense balls he called “cowboy bread” which he washed down with as much milk as he could safely drink in one sitting.  He was unapologetically hostile towards new trends in photography, such as color film.  He was fond of saying, “Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.”  I thought he was a curmudgeon and a bit daft at the time but it turns out that’s exactly how I feel when it comes to the almighty PUMPKIN SPICE. Continue reading “Soft Chai Snickerdoodles”

Chewy Molasses Cookies

Chewy Molasses Cookies

I know I said that the Mexican Hot Chocolate Cookies were my baby.  But now I have a new baby and it’s these Chewy Molasses Cookies.  At first I was worried that I wouldn’t love the Mexican Hot Chocolate Cookies as much once I posted these, but it turns out there’s enough love in my heart for both.  My heart grew, as did my waistline. Continue reading “Chewy Molasses Cookies”

Weezy’s Honey Cake

 

I love my little weirdos.  All of my three kids have special talents and hilarious quirks.  My son has an insane amount of energy, charm, musical ability and dramatic flair.  If the entire cast of a cruise ship musical production could be crammed into one person, that would be Simon on a slow day.  My middle daughter, Ramona, is artistic, soulful and passionate.  Her art teacher once told me, “She’s like a conduit, the ideas and inspiration just pour out of her.”  I wish this were a kids’ art blog because she is truly gifted. Continue reading “Weezy’s Honey Cake”