This year, I realized that I had become fairly inflexible with my Christmas cookie baking. ‘Let’s keep with tradition’, I thought to myself, year after year. Yes, our tried and true Christmas cookie recipes are delicious, so why fix something that’s not broken? Righto.

I love to bake and nothing makes me happier than having an opportunity to experiment with a new recipe…and then kindly force it upon someone else, so that I’m not stuck with a batch of 32+ cookies or an entire, frosted, 3-layer cake. Anyone who knows me will understand that I can’t keep that sort of temptation in the house. As much as I’ll claim that ‘I couldn’t possibly take all those leftovers home’ and that ‘there’s no way I’ll ever eat all that alone’, you all need to know that I can take all of those leftovers home, and I will throw ’em all down the hatch within a few days. You probably shouldn’t ask me about what happened with the last 3/4 of the Red Velvet cake leftover from Christmas dinner; I’m still tying to make peace with my behaviour towards that cake. Bottom line, my protests are all, basically, a charade. Now you know.

But, let’s now move away from my gluttonous behaviours and get back to the issue at hand…

Not only do I love to test out new recipes, I’m really not one to go along with customs, so why was I stuck in such a Christmas baking rut? Genuinely bizarre, and I guess that we’ll never get to the bottom of that one.

Regardless, this year, I took it upon myself to incorporate two new cookie recipes into my regular holiday baking. I baked Peppermint Pinwheels which were really really yummy, and this Coffee & Chocolate Chip Shortbread. Despite my new-found affinity for experimental Christmas cookies, I was stubborn enough to also bake all of the regulars. You can bring me to water, but, clearly, you can’t make me drink.

This Coffee & Chocolate Chip Shortbread is amazing. It’s incredibly tasty, is a great addition to any holiday cookie plate, and the cookies are fabulously cute in their little itty-bitty square shapes. They’re really not that small, I guess that they just look that way when compared to my other, absurdly large, cookies.

They impart a lovely coffee flavour, have a great texture, and, of course, the chocolate puts them over the top.

A real must-bake.

Coffee & Chocolate Chip Shortbread Cookies
Adapted from Sugar Coated Bliss

Makes 32 cookies

1.5 tablespoons instant coffee
1 tablespoon boiling water
2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped, or 3/4 cup chocolate chips (mini or regular size)

1. Dissolve the coffee in the boiling water, and set aside to cool to tepid.

2. Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter and confectioners’ sugar together on medium speed for about 3 minutes, until the mixture is very smooth. Beat in the vanilla and coffee, then reduce the mixer speed to low and add the flour, mixing only until it disappears into the dough. Don’t work the dough much once the flour is incorporated. Fold in the chopped chocolate with a sturdy rubber spatula.

3. Using the spatula, transfer the soft, sticky dough to a gallon-size zipper-lock plastic bag. Put the bag on a flat surface, leaving the top open, and roll the dough into a 9 x 10 1/2 inch rectangle that’s 1/4 inch thick. As you roll, turn the bag occasionally and lift the plastic from the dough so it doesn’t cause creases. When you get the right size and thickness, seal the bag, pressing out as much air as possible, and refrigerate the dough for at least 2 hours, or for up to 2 days.

4. Position the racks to divide the oven into thirds and preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment or silicone mats.

5. Put the plastic bag on a cutting board and slit it open. Turn the firm dough out onto the board (discard the bag) and, using a ruler as a guide and a sharp knife, cut the dough into 1 1/2-inch squares. Transfer the squares to the baking sheets and carefully prick each one twice with a fork, gently pushing the tines through the cookies until they hit the sheet.

6. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, rotating the sheets from top to bottom and front to back at the midway point. The shortbreads will be very pale–they shouldn’t take on much color. Transfer the cookies to a rack.

7. Cool the cookies to room temperature before serving.

Not only do they taste delicious, their fresh, delightful, smell permeates the entire house.