You can find coffee co-mingled with spice in other cultures, such as cardamom scented Turkish Coffee and Café Olla, a Mexican coffee brewed with a touch of cinnamon and piloncillo sugar. Pierre Hermé also writes about a haunting memory of a coffee served with an accompanying piece of crystallized ginger, which prompted him to create a cake.
These cookies from Bon Appetit are a play on this theme. They're crisp with an unusual and aromatic blend of coffee, ground ginger, cinnamon and cardamom. They’re sweetened with brown sugar and bursting with coffee flavor. They are decidedly adult.
The recipe includes a simple glaze and a super garnish of crystallized ginger. I also tried them with a smear of chocolate. But I must say I prefer the original recipe’s glaze, which I think enhances rather than masks the complexity. The crystallized ginger really pops and adds to its distinctive and unusual flavor. I wouldn’t necessarily call them a shortbread but they do have a good amount of butter and are similarly baked at a lower temperature for a longer time than most cookies.
If you’re looking for a very unusual cookie full of spice and a satisfying burst of java, you may want to add this to your stack of curiosities.
- The recipe calls for baking in two 9” tart pans with removable bottoms but I made them into cookies using a 2 1/2 “ square cookie cutter. If you use the tart pans, divide the dough equally between the two pans. Press it firmly and evenly onto the bottom of each tart pan. Instructions say to bake at 325 degrees F for about 25 minutes, then rotate pans and continue to bake until golden brown and firm around edges with a center that is still just slightly soft, about 20 minutes longer. Cool shortbread in pans for about 5 minutes. Remove pan sides. Use a sharp knife to score the warm shortbread in each pan into 12 wedges. Cool completely. Spread the glaze thinly, leaving 1/2” border at edges. Garnish with crystallized ginger. Let the glaze set for about 1 hour. Slice into 24 wedges.
- For the glaze, I sift the powdered sugar into a bowl of 2 teaspoons of water to avoid lumps. Then I add the vanilla.
- Store in an airtight container.
- You might also enjoy Chocolate Espresso Spice Cookies.
Coffee Spice Shortbread With Crystallized Ginger
adapted from Bon Appetit
Makes 30 2 1/2” cookies
2 cups (10 oz) flour
3/4 cup (5 1/4 oz) dark brown sugar, packed
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons finely ground coffee
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon cardamom
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 oz (16 tablespoons) cold unsalted butter
1/2 cup (2 oz) powdered sugar
2 teaspoons (1 oz) water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract [I used 1/2 teaspoon]
6 tablespoons (about 3 oz) chopped crystallized ginger
Preheat to 325 degrees F. Prepare baking sheets with parchment or silpats.
Place flour, brown sugar, ground coffee, ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, and salt in a food processor and process to combine. Cut cold butter into 1/2” pieces and add. Pulse until moist clumps begin to form at the center of the bowl. Gather the dough into a ball. Divide dough into two equal portions. Place each on a sheet of plastic wrap and pat it down. Place another sheet of plastic wrap on top and roll out to a rectangle about 7 1/2” x 10”. Slide onto a baking sheet and place in the refrigerator. Repeat with second half of dough. Chill until firm.
Remove plastic wrap from both sides of cookie dough, leaving one piece underneath. Cut out cookies using a 2 1/2” cookie cutter and place 15 per prepared baking pan.
Bake for 20 minutes, rotating baking sheets halfway through. Place on a wire rack to cool completely.
Mix the powdered sugar, water and vanilla. Using a small offset spatula, spread a thin layer of glaze over about half of each cookie. Garnish with crystallized ginger. Place on a wire rack until glaze is set, about 1 hour.