Before I get to the Hong Kong posts, for completion's sake, here is the second post on the Christmas cookie boxes I gave out this year; the first post is here.
So, let's just get straight into it, starting with the espresso chocolate shortbreads! Shortbreads are one of my favorite kinds of cookie, because they are so easily adaptable. They are also really great for making ahead; I sometimes make rolls of shortbread dough in a couple of different flavors and stick them in the freezer for those days when I need something quick (in fact, I think I will go do that after I finish writing this. Lots of birthdays coming up.) This is, of course, a Dorie Greenspan recipe, although I doubled the amount of espresso that I added to the dough, and next time, I might add even more. I really like coffee, what can I say? The shaping on this is ingenious, really--you put the dough into a gallon ziploc bag, roll it out inside the bag, and refrigerate. Then you cut the bag off of your slab of dough and slice into rectangles or squares. For someone like me, who can't be bothered to use a ruler, this results in cookies of all different sizes....so, maybe next time I'll just make it into a log :)
Next, brownies! I did not take a photo of the individual brownie pieces, but please believe me: these brownies are much better than the ones you make out of the box. And as an avowed boxed-mix-brownie-lover, that's saying a lot. Please try these, just make sure you use a good, dark cocoa powder.
And finally, linzer cookies. I think these have been included in my cookie boxes every since I've been doing them, and for good reason! They are nutty, sweet with vanilla (but tempered by the tart jam), and are a nice compromise between crisp and crumbly. They are one of my favorite cookies of all time, and I actually have a cutter set that makes a little decorative cutout in the center so you can see the jam. Unfortunately, I was not able to find them until after the cookie season (why did I put them in the coat closet? I have no idea.). But hey, the important thing is that they TASTE good, right?
Recipe for the brownies below! (If you are interested in either of the other two recipes, email me--I'm too lazy to type them up right now.) And thus concludes my posts from 2009. Hong Kong posts are up next!
My Favorite Brownies
2/3 cup cocoa (I use double dutch cocoa from King Arthur)
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup all purpose flour
1 tablespoon espresso powder
3 large eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 tablespoons water
Preheat oven to 350 F. Butter or line with parchment an 8 inch square pan (or 9 inch; sometimes I also use a mini muffin pan if I want to make individual portions). Whisk dry ingredients together until combined. Add the eggs, vegetable oil, and water and stir until well combined. This comes together very easily and makes a thick, dropping batter. (I love brownies--so easy. No beating, just stirring.) If you like nuts and chips in your brownies, add them now; about a cup should do. Pour and spread into your prepared pan. For the square pan, bake for about 40 minutes, and then start checking. You don't want to overbake these! Test with a skewer, and when it comes out mostly clean with a few crumbs, they're ready. The mini muffins take about 20 minutes. Cool before cutting into small bars; they are VERY rich! Eat with milk!