Instant espresso powder, a Pantry Special (Recipe: espresso-nut cookies)
Pantry Specials are great ingredients that find their way into my pantry from time to time, but not all the time.
I grew up in a family of addicted coffee drinkers. Instant coffee ruled, because we could make it instantly, with the boiling-water attachment on the sink. For all the coffee we drank, and we drank a lot, we never graduated to good, strong, brewed coffee, and we never made espresso. In my own house, we brew, but from time to time I buy instant espresso powder for baking. The flavor is more intense than coffee, and the powder blends easily into the dry ingredients in cookies and cakes. If you have an espresso machine that grinds the beans before you brew -- or if you use espresso pods in a single-cup machine -- you can save the used espresso, let it dry, and process in a food processor to make your own espresso powder. A bit added to brownies will highlight the chocolate flavor.
Is this Pantry Special new to you?
Where to buy:
Ferrara instant espresso from Amazon.com ($19.02 for six 2-oz jars)
Cafe Bustelo instant decaf espresso from Amazon.com ($20.98 for 4 3.5-oz jars)
King Arthur Flour (2 oz. jar/$5.95)
Medaglia D'Oro instant espresso from Salumeria Italiana (2-oz jar/$4.00)
How to use instant espresso powder:
Vegetarian black bean espresso chili
Espresso praline muffins
Devil's food cake with espresso frosting
Flourless chocolate espresso truffle cake
Ancho-spiced steaks with Cuban-espresso sauce
Slippery-slidey cinnamon-espresso cup custard
Espresso-nut cookies (decaf or regular)
If you're an ice cream lover or cookie maker, you ought to have a disher in your utensil drawer. Disher is restaurant-speak for an ice cream scoop with a release, and there's nothing better for making cookies. Dishers come in different sizes; the typical size for ice cream also deposits the perfect amount of batter in a muffin tin. This recipe, adapted very slightly from Fresh Flavor Fast by Everyday Food, makes 24 large, thin cookies, or 36 small ones.
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs
3 Tbsp instant espresso powder
2 cups nuts (I used 1 cup each of pecans and skinned hazelnuts), roughly chopped
Preheat oven to 375°F. Line 2-3 baking sheets with a Silpat (silicone liner) or parchment paper.
In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking soda and salt, and whisk together.
In the bowl of a Kitchen-Aid type stand mixer, cream the butter and both sugars on medium speed until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, mixing until each is incorporated and scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Beat in the espresso powder.
Reduce the mixer speed to low, and add the flour mixture slowly. Beat just until the ingredients combine. Remove the bowl from the mixer, and stir the nuts into the batter.
Use a disher or tablespoon to portion the dough, placing the mounds 2-3 inches apart. Bake, rotating the sheets from top to bottom, until golden, 14 minutes. Cool on the sheets for 2 minutes, then slide the Silpat or parchment paper onto a cooling rack. When the cookies have cooked enough to move, slide them off the Silpat directly onto the cooling rack, and allow to cool completely.
Cookies can be stored in an airtight container for up to 3 days.