Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Cup of Joe in a Cookie

aka Expresso Walnut Bites

Try some morning espresso in a cookie instead of in a cup. It worked for me this morning when I had caffeine on my mind after scanning some lovely espresso foam art on Pinterest. It has been a long time between home-brewed espressos. RL uses the drip coffee side daily, but the machine's espresso function hasn't see much action lately. 

My mornings now typically begin with a cup of flavored green tea, Moroccan Mint or Jasmine topping the list of current favorites. Whatever happened to those espresso cravings of the past? Don't know, don't care, for now I'll just nibble on some nutty, buttery, espresso-flavored snowballs.

The cookies aren't fussy, but it is important to bake until the bottoms begin to brown, the cookies appear dry on the outside and they feel fairly firm to the touch. Let them cool a bit before moving to a baking rack, otherwise they will crumble. Maybe that is a bit fussy, but these expresso walnut bites are worth a little extra care.

The cookie interior is a bit light on sugar, but a powdered sugar coating makes up for that, adding an airy sweetness to each bite. Indeed, so airy that you may find yourself wearing a fine dusting of white after you nibble on a few cookies.   

Warm cookies will absorb some of the first coating of powdered sugar as they cool. Give them a second roll in powdered sugar to assure a snowball effect; there is no such thing as too much powdered sugar, right? 

Espresso Walnut Bites
inspired by a recipe at joythebaker

Yields about 2 dozen cookies

       1 cup all-purpose flour
       1 tablespoon cornstarch
       1/4 teaspoon salt
       1/4 teaspoon baking powder
       2 tablespoons instant expresso coffee (Medaglia D'Oro)
       3 tablespoons light brown sugar, firmly packed
       1 1/2 cups ground or finely chopped walnuts
       1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
       1 scant teaspoon vanilla extract
       a generous splash of almond extract
       1 1/2 cups powdered sugar, for rolling cookies after baking

1.   Move an oven rack to the upper middle and preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with a silicone mat or parchment paper and set aside. Prepare a flat bowl of powdered sugar.
2.   Sift the dry ingredients together into a medium bowl: flour, cornstarch, salt, baking powder and instant espresso powder. Add the finely chopped walnuts and mix to combine.
3.   In a second bowl use a mixer to cream together the butter and brown sugar. Stir in the vanilla and almond extract. 
4.   Add the dry ingredient mixture and use a large wooden spoon to work it into the creamed sugar and butter. Mix the dough until it is a fairly loose, coarse, crumbly meal.
5.   Roll heaping tablespoons of dough between the palms of your hands to form walnut-sized balls. Place an inch or so apart on the prepared baking sheet, the cookies will only spread a little.
6.   Bake for 25-30 minutes, turning the baking sheet front to back halfway through the baking time. Bake until the bottoms barely begin to brown, appear dry on the outside and feel fairly firm to the touch.
7.   Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly and set up a bit, 2 to 3 minutes, before placing in the bowl of powdered sugar. While still warm, roll gently in powdered sugar to generously coat on all surfaces. Place on wire baking rack to cool completely. Roll again in powdered sugar (2nd roll is optional, but why not add a little more fluffy snow to a snowball?)
8.   Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to five days. Freeze for longer storage.

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