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Instant espresso powder, a Pantry Special (Recipe: espresso-nut cookies)

Espresso nut cookies

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?

Instant espresso powder 

How to:
Make your own instant espresso powder

Substitute for instant espresso powder

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
Espresso caramel
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 

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.

More recipes in The Perfect Pantry:
Chocolate spice cookies
Amaretti cookies
Maple nut cookies
Espresso sorbet
The world's best sugar cookie

Disclosure: The Perfect Pantry earns a few pennies on purchases made through the Amazon.com links in this post. Thank you for supporting this site when you start your shopping here.


What a cool idea! Wouldn't this work with the grounds of a regular dark roasted coffee as well? I drink a lot of coffee so I have a ton of grounds available. This recipe has gone to the top of my "must do soon" list. Thanks

Those cookies sound wickedly delicious! I bet they might last longer than 3 days. Maybe in the freezer?

Funny... Brewed coffee is not the norm here. We use either a press or the Spanish double boiler thingy... But mainly instant. And espresso powder is common....

Oooooo . . . these cookies sound yummy! I'm addicted to any food made with coffee. I never knew it was so easy to make espresso powder. I can't wait to give this recipe a try.

I've used a sprinkle of instant expresso on desserts to bring a little coffee flavor like over chocolate ice cream. I imagine it works well in baking.

I'm a bit of a coffee snob - and don't drink instant. Recently, when my dad came to visit, he was shocked, SHOCKED that I had instant in the cupboard. I had to explain that I use it for baking... though lately I was thinking about coffee marinades for grilled meats.

Thank you so much for the link to Laurie Colwin. I can't tell you how much I appreciate it.

I have made a ricotta custard with espresso powder that is quite good. Those cookies look delicious - one of those would kick off my day right without my usual java.

I think espresso powder just went on my shopping list! I can think of so many uses for it.

These look great -- and let's make TW give us the ricotta custard recipe.

I brew 2 pounds of Code Brown from coffeeemergency.com each month and turn most of it into Espresso Powder for baking.
People can hardly believe how perfectly it enhances anything made with chocolate.
All the best,

These cookies sound great. Add some semi-sweet chocolate chunks and I'm in!

By the way, Cafe Bustelo is the best instant espresso I've found - I use it in my chocolate baking all the time. It's much more intense than the Italian brands - If you can find it, give it a try! (I used to buy it in my local supermarket, but when I moved, I couldn't find it locally, so now I order it online).

Michael, you can use regular dark coffee (after it's been brewed), but grind it to a fine powder first.

Amy, in my house they didn't last 24 hours! But yes, I think you could freeze them.

Katie, pressed coffee is wonderful. I wish it were the habit here, but as with so many things, we no longer take the time.

Paula, it's neat to know about making your own espresso powder, especially for those of us who don't live near a market. I've used that trick more than once!

Joan, coffee and chocolate are a magic combination. The coffee makes chocolate taste more chocolatey.

Julia, I have a recipe here for a meat rub that's delicious. I'll be happy to taste your experiments any time.

TW, see Susan's comment; let's have that recipe, please!

Kalyn, the little jars of instant espresso last for months if you use them for baking and not for drinking. Very handy to have in the pantry.

Susan, see above; I'm working on it.

Mark, that's a lot of espresso powder! Would love to know what you're baking.

Meryl, I love Bustelo coffee. I buy it in the Latino markets in Providence, but it's not that easy to find out in my little village.

This post is pretty amazing. I read recipes all the time that call for it, but never clear if it is the grinds, instant, or something else entirely. Thanks for all the info, the links and the recipe.

Afters years of wasted half pots of coffee, fiddling around with expensive pod & cup machines - we have settled back into an old familiar favorite in our house. Instant coffee. but I think I need to bring some instant espresso powder to the party!
(funny.. my parents had the instant hot water tap too! I had forgotten about that - gone now with a remodel to bring the house into the 90s)

Oh wow! These sound sooo yummy! I love using espresso powder in baking.

Erin, thank you. I certainly try to provide good information, and I count on readers to let me know when I've left something out!

Carol, I remember when my parents first got the boiling water spigot. I thought it was the best thing ever. But I do think we increased our coffee consumption by quite a bit!

Kathleen, I don't use it often, but it works wonders in all kinds of chocolate baked goods.

I love your site! It is full of great recipes and wonderful pictures.

Yum! Instant espresso is definitely a must have for a baker's pantry.

I've got instant espresso, so I'm making these. They look scrumptious!

Just wanted to say thanks for showing me how to make my own espresso powder! How long does it keep in a jar? Refrigerate or can you keep it in a pantry?

Espresso cookies? That sounds interesting. If you're a true coffee fanatic, you just can't live without freshly ground coffee. I guess this will be another good use for the best coffee grinder I had just recently purchased. I'll give it a try. I'm not a good baker, so wish me luck :)

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