If you love the buttery, crumbly texture of traditional shortbread, are a proud, flag-waving chocaholic, and are more committed to your morning cup o’ joe than your spouse, then these cookies are for you.

To understand just how truly extraordinary and very adult these shortbread cookies are, just look at The One’s behavior. He’s a dyed-in-cocoa-bean chocolate lover. He loved these cookies so much that he actually hid them from me. HID THEM! And I still haven’t found them.

What makes this recipe different and, in my opinion, better is it calls for espresso powder. Many other recipes call for ground espresso beans. When I tested a batch using ground espresso, I didn’t like the grittiness it added to these cookies. Plus, the coffee flavor was too strong. The 1 1/2 teaspoons of espresso powder here enhances the chocolate flavor without asserting itself and adds just a hint of bitterness. (Think you’re favorite cup of coffee.)

Being slice-and-bake cookies, you can cut off a few cookie slices and have your chocolate hit whenever you want.

My only disappointment–and it’s a huge one-is I didn’t discover this recipe sooner.

david caricature

Why Our Testers Loved This

The testers were drawn to this recipe because it is simple and easy to make. They’ve filed it in their collection of “keepers,” thanks to the “wonderful balance of cocoa, espresso, and sweetness.”

What You’ll Need to Make This

Ingredients for chocolate espresso shortbread cookies--flour, cocoa, butter, salt, espresso powder, brown sugar, semi-sweet chocolate, and vanilla.
  • Cocoa powder–Be sure to use Dutch process cocoa powder for these cookies. It’s smoother and less acidic than natural cocoa powder, resulting in better flavor.
  • Espresso powder–This isn’t the same thing as ground coffee beans. It’s a very concentrated form of instant coffee that’ll add richness and depth to your cookies. You can find it in the baking or coffee aisle at your market. You can also order espresso powder online.
  • Unsalted butter–I recommend using unsalted butter, but if all you have is salted, reduce the amount of salt in the cookie dough to 1/2 teaspoon.
  • Semi-sweet chocolate–To prevent the chocolate from melting as you chop it, start with a cold bar of chocolate and a cold knife. If you want a sweeter cookie, substitute milk chocolate.

How to Make This Recipe

A mixer with butter and brown sugar in the bowl; the butter and sugar creamed.
  1. Add the sugar and butter to a bowl of a stand mixer.
  2. Beat the butter, brown sugar, and vanilla until light and fluffy.
A mixer with flour and creamed butter and sugar in the bowl; the a chocolate dough in the bowl.
  1. Add the dry ingredients to the creamed butter and sugar.
  2. Mix on low speed until just combined.
A mixer with chocolate dough and chocolate chunks in the bowl; two logs of chocolate espresso shortbread dough.
  1. Stir in the chopped chocolate, scraping the bottom to make sure everything is incorporated.
  2. Shape the dough into two logs, wrap them in plastic, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours (or freeze for 30 minutes).
A sheet pan with 12 unbaked chocolate espresso shortbread cookies on it.
  1. Slice the cookies into scant 1/2-inch-thick rounds and place them 1-inch apart on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
  2. Bake the cookies until set on the edges.
  3. Let the shortbread sit for AT LEAST 10 minutes on the baking sheet before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
Two plates with a of chocolate espresso shortbread cookies on them.

Common Questions

How long can I keep the cookie dough in the fridge before baking?

I’ve successfully kept the dough refrigerated for up to one week before baking. I also found that chilling the dough for at least one day resulted in a cleaner slice and better flavor than just chilling for 2 hours.

If you’d like to store them for longer, pop the dough logs into resealable plastic bags and stash them in the freezer for up to 6 months. Simply thaw in the fridge and bake whenever a craving hits.

How can I tell when the chocolate shortbread is done baking?

Unlike plain shortbread, which you can judge is done by its pale golden hue, chocolate shortbread needs a different type of visual doneness cue. This shortbread is ready to be removed from the oven when the edges are set and beginning to look dry. The center of the cookies may still appear slightly shiny but don’t be tempted to cook them longer, as this can result in dry, crumbly cookies.

My Dough is too soft to shape. What should I do?

Ah, the curse of butter cookie dough! If your dough’s too soft, use plastic wrap to squeeze it into a rough log and pop it in the fridge for 30 minutes. This will allow it to firm up enough to continue shaping it. Return the finished log to the fridge and continue to chill until you’re ready to bake.

Helpful Tips

  • If you prefer a smaller cookie, roll the dough logs to 1 1/2 inches (4 cm) in diameter. This will give you a yield of about 40 cookies.
  • If you like a salty-sweet combination in your cookies, sprinkle the cookies with flaked sea salt before baking.
  • The cookies are soft and fragile when they come out of the oven. Don’t move them from the baking sheet until they’ve cooled for at least 10 minutes. Then, let them cool completely on a rack before devouring.
  • Store cookies in a sealed container at room temperature for up to 1 week, or freeze for up to 3 months.
A metal tray with a pile of chocolate espresso shortbread cookies on it. Nearby, a glass of milk.

Write a Review

If you make this recipe, or any dish on LC, consider leaving a review, a star rating, and your best photo in the comments below. I love hearing from you.–David

A metal tray with a pile of chocolate espresso shortbread cookies on it. Nearby, a glass of milk.

Chocolate Espresso Shortbread Cookies

4.75 / 4 votes
These slice-and-bake chocolate espresso shortbread cookies are studded with bits of semi-sweet chocolate and laced with espresso to create a slightly bitter, oh-so-chocolatey cookie.
David Leite
CourseDessert
CuisineAmerican
Servings24 cookies (about)
Calories157 kcal
Prep Time20 minutes
Cook Time15 minutes
Total Time2 hours 35 minutes

Ingredients 

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons espresso powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt (I use Diamond brand)
  • 2 sticks (8 oz) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 5 ounces (about 1 cup) chopped semi-sweet chocolate

Instructions 

  • Whisk the flour, cocoa powder, espresso powder, and salt in a medium bowl.
  • Beat the butter, brown sugar, and vanilla extract In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes.
  • Spoon in the dry ingredients and mix on low speed until the dough comes together.
  • Toss in the chopped chocolate and mix until just combined, scraping the bottom of the bowl to make sure everything is mixed.
  • Divvy the dough in half and roll each half into a 2 1/2-inch-wide (7-cm) log. Wrap each log in plastic.

    ☞ TESTER TIP: The dough may be quite sticky. Once you get each log rolled in plastic, use the plastic to help even out the shape.

  • Chill the dough in the refrigerator for 2 hours or freeze for 30 minutes.
  • Crank up the oven to 350°F (178°C) and line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment.
  • Use a sharp knife to slice each dough log into scant 1/2-inch (12-mm) rounds. Place the cookies on the baking sheet, about 1 inch (25 mm) apart.
  • Bake until the edges are just set, 12 to 15 minutes.
  • Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for 10 minutes–they are fragile at this point–then transfer them to a wire rack and let them cool completely.

Notes

  1. To make smaller cookies–Roll the dough logs to 1 1/2 inches (4 cm) in diameter. This will give you a yield of about 40 cookies.
  2. Add some salt–If you like a salty-sweet combination in your cookies, sprinkle the cookies with flaked sea salt before baking.
  3. Don’t rush the cooling process–The cookies are soft and fragile when they come out of the oven. Don’t attempt to move them from the baking sheet until they’ve cooled for at least 10 minutes, and let them cool completely on a rack before enjoying.
  4. Storage–Store baked cookies in a sealed container at room temperature for up to 1 week or freeze for up to 3 months.
Baking By Feel Cookbook

Adapted From

Baking By Feel

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Nutrition

Serving: 1 cookieCalories: 157 kcalCarbohydrates: 17 gProtein: 1 gFat: 10 gSaturated Fat: 6 gMonounsaturated Fat: 3 gTrans Fat: 0.3 gCholesterol: 20 mgSodium: 101 mgFiber: 1 gSugar: 10 g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Tried this recipe?Mention @leitesculinaria or tag #leitesculinaria!
Recipe © 2022 Becca Rea-Tucker. Photos © 2023 David Leite. All rights reserved.

Recipe Testers’ Reviews

Nine chocolate shortbread cookies on a wire rack.

I always add espresso powder to my chocolate cakes, so I was interested in knowing what this addition would be like in cookies, especially a large amount. These shortbreads have lots of chocolate flavour and are nicely bittersweet. If you like a hit of chocolate and a cookie that’s not overly sweet, this chocolate shortbread recipe hits both.

Having cookies ready in the fridge to slice and bake is always convenient, especially with the holidays coming up. This recipe is a keeper for me.

I love shortbread, as it’s generally far less sweet than quick breads, muffins, and cakes yet still satisfies sweet-tooth cravings. Berries, fruits, and spiced shortbreads are now favorites, so trying a chocolate shortbread seemed like a great way to be reintroduced to an old friend. Chocolate, I’m back!

This chocolate espresso shortbread has a beautiful balance of cocoa, espresso, and sweetness. There is a tender crumb that’s not too sweet, chocolatey, or bitter. The chocolate is not muted; it is just toned down from a classic brownie. Calling them shortbread cookies makes enjoying them more of a misdemeanor guilty pleasure than the felonious brownie.

I love the simple elegance of this chocolate shortbread recipe and the fast preparation. While they’ve included the espresso in the recipe (and the name), the flavor definitely screams CHOCOLATE without being sickeningly sweet.

If you’re not an espresso or coffee fan, try this one anyway. It’s rich and would complement either coffee or an after-dinner cocktail. One of my favorite things is that it has no eggs, so you can make the dough ahead of time and bake them fresh when needed. Freezing works, too.

These chocolate espresso shortbreads deliver a deep, dark punch of rich, full-bodied flavor. We loved the bitterness of the coffee contrasted by the chunks of chocolate.

They came together easily and quickly with minimal effort and everyday ingredients. I sprinkled about half of them with flaky sea salt before baking, and we loved them both with and without. My cookies came out flatter than expected but were still irresistibly delicious, and I can’t wait to make them again!

As a lover of treats that err on the bitter side, this chocolate shortbread recipe was the perfect one to satisfy my cravings. Though a simple recipe, their depth of rich, chocolatey goodness paired so well with the buttery shortbread texture to create a scrumptious cookie.

These cookies are delectable, with deep chocolate flavor, are not too sweet, and have the correct salt balance. Ours came out very thin and ultra-delicate, but the flavor is so terrific we had absolutely no complaints.

These cookies are so rich that we shared them with many friends, who all loved them. One of our Star Taste Testers sent this note: “These are like the Bangkok peaches of cookies, which are too fragile to ship…but they’re such a treat when you can get them. I really like the initial crumbly/flakiness that transitions into a slightly chewy consistency. I’m a huge fan of dark chocolate, so a full win there. Nice level on the sweetness dial, too. Yum.”

These are reminiscent of my favourite cookies–world peace cookies–but they’re a nice variation, with the addition of espresso powder and chocolate. (I used milk chocolate.) They’re sophisticated and delicate yet so incredibly easy! A minimal-effort cookie with a great payoff!




About David Leite

I count myself lucky to have received three James Beard Awards for my writing as well as for Leite’s Culinaria. My work has also appeared in The New York Times, Martha Stewart Living, Saveur, Bon Appétit, Gourmet, Food & Wine, Yankee, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, and more.


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Recipe Rating




6 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    I just made these. I love chocolate and now I love these. They are delicious with a capital D and yes, they are intense but that’s OK. I have to go now and eat more of them and then make more of them, thank you. 🙂

  2. 5 stars
    Delicious chocolate shortbread cookie! Delicate crumble and the chocolate/ coffee combination adds a lovely light sweet/smokey flavor. 👏🏻👍🏻

    This is definitely on replay!

  3. 4 stars
    These cookies are delicious. There’s nothing quite like the combo of chocolate and espresso. We loved the chunks of chocolate throughout, which added a nice textural element. One thing to be aware of: these cookies are Intense. With a capital “I.” So be sure to have a cold glass of milk by your side!