Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Caramel-Glazed Coffee Shortbread Cookies

Adapted from a recipe by Flo Braker from Food & Wine
Makes 40 bars

Coffee Shortbread with Caramel Glaze

For the shortbread base:
2 ¼ cups plus 2 Tbl all-purpose flour
½ cup packed light brown sugar
1 Tbl finely ground coffee beans
½ tsp salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract

For the glaze:
¼ stick unsalted butter, room temperature
1/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 Tbl strong-brewed espresso
1 Tbl light corn syrup
Pinch of salt
40 chocolate covered espresso beans

To make the shortbread base: Preheat the oven to 350°F and arrange a rack in the middle position.

Line a 9 x 13-inch shallow baking pan with foil, leaving a 2-inch overhang on the two short sides. Butter all four sides, but not the bottom.

Add the flour, brown sugar, ground coffee and salt to the bowl of an electric food processor. Pulse a few times to combine. Add the cubed butter and pulse until the mixture begins to form small, pea-sized lumps.  Transfer the dough to the prepared baking pan, then press down firmly with your fingers and the heel of your hand to form an even layer. Bake until lightly golden and firm, anywhere between 15 to 25 minutes. Cool on a wire rack about 10 minutes.

Grasping the foil overhangs, carefully transfer the shortbread base from the pan to the countertop.

Using a ruler, cut the still warm shortbread lengthwise into 8 strips. (Slice lengthwise in half, then slice each half in half to get quarters, then slice each quarter in half to get eighths – It’s the best way to achieve even slices.) Then slice cross-wise into five even rows. Let the shortbread bars cool completely.

Note: Don’t separate the bars from each other. Keeping them closely together will help when it comes to glazing their tops.

To make the glaze: In a small to medium saucepan, combine the butter, brown sugar, espresso, corn syrup and salt. Stir to combine, then bring to a boil over medium heat, occasionally swirling the pan. Boil until just thickened, about 1 ½ to 2 minutes, then remove from the heat. When the bubbling subsides, immediately pour the hot glaze over the shortbread bars. Working very quickly, spread the glaze in an even layer with a small off-set spatula.

Using the tip of a lightly oiled paring knife, score the glaze between the shortbread bar edges, without dragging. (This means, make a bunch of separate cuts, rather than dragging the knife down the rows. And you’ll probably want to rinse, dry and re-oil your knife time every once in a while too.)

Press a chocolate-covered espresso bean into the center of each bar. Let cool slightly, then carefully lift out the bars and transfer to a plate.

These can be kept in an air-tight container, for up to 5 days.