Last week I came across some cookies made by McTavish Shortbread that were incredibly good, I usually don’t go for shortbread cookies, they tend to be a bit dry, but I gave them a shot. And wow did I love them! I wanted to see if I could make something similar. This recipe is adapted from two shortbread cookie recipes I found online and then tweaked by reading the ingredients on McTavish cookie container.
Most of the recipes for shortbread are very similar and all followed the same process. I wasn’t sure about replacing all-purpose flour with whole wheat flour but that’s what McTavish used so I thought I’d take my chances on that one. Whole wheat can react differently and I haven’t used it as much as all-purpose, but I read it’s an easy swap for cookies and also saw a recipe here that used the same amount.
I used Deb’s (of Smitten Kitchen) technique of rolling out dough in plastic bag, it sounded easier to handle than the parchment paper roll out, however I used the shortbread cookie recipe from Food & Wine, changing up the ingredients to more of what McTavish listed as ingredients by adding crushed espresso beans, cinnamon and replacing confectioners sugar with muscovado sugar and the flour swap. McTavish also had molasses listed as an ingredient, but because muscovado sugar has a molasses flavor I figured I could leave the molasses out.
As far as crushing espresso beans goes, we have a fancy coffee grinder and I put it on the most coarse setting, but I think it was still too fine (I liked the occasional crunch of espresso bean in the McTavish cookie), so the remaining beans I put in a ziplock bag and smashed them, that worked out really well, and note, I attempted to chop them with a knife on the cutting board and it made a big mess, they shoot out all over the place, so the ziplock bag seems to be the best way to go.
I listed Fleur de Sel salt as an option, I really recommend adding this if you like the flavor of chocolate and salt together, I just love it.
Overall I came close to the McTavish cookies. They taste amazing, but they could have been a bit sweeter, so you may want to increase the amount of sugar depending on your taste. I’m looking forward to experimenting with this recipe a bit more down the road.
Chocolate Espresso Shortbread Cookies
- 2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 2/3 cup muscovado sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 2/3 cup Dutch-process cocoa
- 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour, plus more for rolling
- 2 tablespoons rough ground (crushed) espresso beans (.5 ounce)
- 2 ounces finely chopped dark chocolate (62-70% cacao)
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- Fleur de Sel (topping optional)
In the bowl of a standing electric mixer fitted with a paddle, beat the butter until creamy. Add the sugar and beat until fluffy. Add the vanilla, then beat in the cocoa and cinnamon on low speed. Beat in the flour and salt; the dough will be very soft. Fold in crushed espresso beans and chopped chocolate with rubber spatula.
Using the spatula, transfer the soft, sticky dough to a gallon-size zipper-lock plastic bag. Put the bag on a flat surface, leaving the top open, and roll the dough into a 9 x 10 1/2 inch rectangle that’s 1/4 inch thick. As you roll, turn the bag occasionally and lift the plastic from the dough so it doesn’t cause creases. When you get the right size and thickness, seal the bag, pressing out as much air as possible, and refrigerate the dough for at least 2 hours, or for up to 2 days
Preheat the oven to 350°
Put the plastic bag on a cutting board and slit it open.
Invert the dough onto a lightly floured work surface. Using a floured 1-inch cookie cutter, stamp out cookies as close together as possible. Transfer the cookies to parchment paper–lined baking sheets, top with Fleur de Sel and bake for about 14 minutes, or until firm. Let cool on the baking sheets for 10 minutes, then, using a metal spatula, transfer the cookies to a rack to cool completely. Re-roll the scraps, and stamp out more cookies, chilling the scraps between batches.