Chocolate Dipped Mexican Hot Chocolate Shortbread with Sea Salt

As a member of the pregnant population, I’d like to take this opportunity to declare chocolate its own food group. Mexican hot chocolate is also one of my favorite comfort foods, especially when I can get it from Pannikin when I visit my hometown in San Diego. However, since I can’t fly back to San Diego every time I need Mexican hot chocolate, these cookies are a great stand in.

They’re an adaptation from a beautiful recipe in The Back in the Day Bakery Cookbook. I made a few adjustments, most notably the addition of dipping these bad boys in chocolate and sprinkling them with sea salt, because… yum! For my cookie exchange party, I also added some royal icing decoration. To say this was a challenge for me is an understatement. I had to enlist sage advice from my girlfriend Chelsea who makes the most incredible, beautiful cookies ever. This recipe should yield about 2 dozen cookies.

Active Time: 30 minutes | Cooking Time: 15 minutes
Difficulty Level: Intermediate

 Ingredients

  • 1 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (add a quarter cup if you’re at high altitude like me)
  • 1/2 cup almond flour
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp pure almond extract
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp espresso powder
  • 1/2 tsp plus 1/2 tsp sea salt or fleur de sel, divided
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne powder
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Directions

Whisk flours together in a medium bowl and set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or a large mixing bowl if using a handheld mixer), cream the butter vanilla and almond extract until the mixture is pale and fluffy, about 1 to 2 minutes. With the speed set to low, add the brown sugar, cocoa powder, cinnamon, espresso powder, 1/2 tsp salt and cayenne pepper, and combine to the batter until smooth, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add the flour mixture gradually until just combined. Working with a mixing spoon, go through the dough once more, ensuring all ingredients are thoroughly combined.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface or piece of parchment paper and roll it out to 1/4 inch thick. With a 2-inch cookie cutter, cut the dough into rounds, flouring the cutter and rerolling the scraps as necessary. Arrange the cookies 1 inch apart on parchment-lined baking sheets and refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to 5 hours.
Heat the oven to 350 degrees F. With the wire rack on the lower third of the oven, bake the cookies, one sheet at a time, for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the edges are firm to the touch and smell richly of chocolate. Cool cookies completely on wire racks.
Once cookies have fully cooled, melt the chocolate chips using a double boiler or pop them in the microwave in a microwave safe bowl for 1 minute, allow them to settle for about 30 seconds and stir. If you still have chips, microwave again in 30 second increments until smooth. Dip each of the cookies halfway into the melted chocolate, running the bottom of the cookie gently along the edge of the bowl to remove the excess and transfer to parchment paper. With the chocolate still wet, sprinkle each cookie with a pinch of sea salt. Set at room temperature.
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