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Mocha Shortbread Cookies Recipe & Video

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These buttery, melt-in-your mouth Mocha Shortbreads are dressed for the holidays with their pretty ribbons and bows made with melted white chocolate. This is when you can have some fun with your cookie decorating, so get as creative as you like with your piping bag. I love to give these cookies as gifts at Christmas.


In 1995 Cindy Brooks wrote a baking book called "Cindy's Itty Bitty Baking Book" which, as the name implies, is where everything is made in miniature. As soon as I saw her recipe for Mocha Shortbreads that looked like small presents, I just had to make them. Now, shortbreads, by definition, have a buttery flavor and a creamy smooth texture. But these cookies also have a delicious mocha flavor which comes from adding unsweetened cocoa powder, instant espresso powder, and a nice dose of pure vanilla extract. Now, as I have said before, a shortbread will only taste as good as the ingredients you use. So use the best butter you can afford and make sure the vanilla extract is labeled "pure". While you could use regular unsweetened cocoa powder in this recipe, I prefer the mild delicate flavor of Dutch processed. The melt-in-your mouth texture of these shortbreads comes from adding a little cornstarch to the batter. (Rice flour could be used instead of the cornstarch.) Since it is always difficult to know when a chocolate cookie is fully baked, watch these shortbread carefully as they are done when the edges are dry but the center still looks a little wet (a toothpick inserted in the center comes out just clean).
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Mocha Shortbreads: Preheat your oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). Lightly butter (or spray with a non stick vegetable spray) a 12 x 9 inch (30 x 23 cm) baking pan. 

In a bowl, sift the flour with the cocoa powder, cornstarch, and salt.

In the bowl of your electric stand mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment (or with a hand mixer), beat the butter until smooth. Add the sugar and beat until fully incorporated. Scrape down the sides and bottom of your bowl as needed. Add the vanilla extract and espresso powder and beat until incorporated. Then add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and beat until the batter just comes together.

Spread the batter onto the bottom of the prepared pan and gently press the batter, with your fingertips or the back of a spoon, to form an even layer. Then, with a sharp knife, score  the top of the shortbread (don't cut all the way through the shortbread batter) into approximately 2 x 2 1/4 inch (5 x 5.75 cm) squares. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, or until the edges of the shortbread look dry, yet the center still looks a little under done. Also, a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean (do not over bake or the shortbreads will be dry tasting). Remove from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool. While the shortbread is still warm, re-cut into squares. Cool completely before removing from pan. 

Garnish: If you want to garnish the shortbreads with white chocolate; in a small heatproof bowl, placed over a saucepan of simmering water, melt the white chocolate (or you can carefully melt the chocolate in the microwave). Then place the melted chocolate into a paper cone or pastry bag fitted with a small plain tip. Carefully pipe a thin line of chocolate across the center of each cookie and then pipe another line across the first one to make them look like presents. These shortbreads can be stored at room temperature for about 5 days or they can be frozen.

Makes about 24 shortbreads

Adapted From:

Brooks, Cindy. Cindy's Itty Bitty Baking Book. Hearst Communications. New York: 1995.

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Mocha Shortbreads:

1 1/2 cups (195 grams) all-purpose flour

1/2 cup (50 grams) unsweetened cocoa powder (Dutch-processsed or natural unsweetened)

2 tablespoons (18 grams) cornstarch (or rice flour)

1/4 teaspoon (1 gram) salt

1 cup (225 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 cup (115 grams) confectioners (powdered or icing) sugar, sifted

1 teaspoon (4 grams) pure vanilla extract

1 tablespoon (3 grams) instant espresso powder


2 ounces (60 grams) white chocolate, coarsely chopped


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