Merry Mocha

Espresso Nutella Sandwiches

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I’m on a bit of a “spread” kick of late.  Cookie butter, Nutella, straight-up peanut butter, and a rare-yet-dangerously-addicting find:  cookie dough flavored organic peanut butter (if your keyboard just short-circuited from a big drool dribble, my apologies).  These creamy, yet SUPER nutrient-dense condiments call to me constantly, like the Sirens to Odysseus in Homer’s high-school staple read, The Odyssey.

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As such, I’ve been trying to find vehicles for them that will force a bit of portion control — the fact that I’m using cookies as these “vehicles” is beside the point (see my latest post for a fabulous use for cookie butter:  White Chocolate Spiced Speculoos Cookies).  I need to give my finger, [ahem], I mean, spoon, a break.

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These Espresso Nutella Sandwiches capitalize on the magical combo that is coffee and dark chocolate.  Something about the boldness of the espresso and the richness of the chocolate resonates into a perfect flavor concerto in which neither the chocolate nor the coffee can be distinguished individually.  You’d expect one of these flavors to overpower the other, but, like Jay-Z and Beyonce, they synergize instead.  With the cookies packing this pungent powerhouse, you need do nothing to the Nutella before slapping it between the cookies — no need for any sugar, butter, or cream.
The cookies themselves are a lightly sweet, melt-in-your-mouth butter cookie that just begs to be dunked in a mug of hot coffee or a glass of cold milk.  The creamy center elegantly complements the crisp exterior and makes you feel mature while piggin’ out on cookies (because coffee is grown-up, right??).
Once the white chocolate has set — I say it’s “optional” in the recipe, but really, do it — these cookies are perfectly portable.  No refrigeration or single-layer packing needed!  They’re an ideal gifting cookie — if you can bear to part with a few — and they look so darn festive and pretty with the wintry white drizzle.  Feel free to add a dusting of blue, red, or green (depending on your preferred observance) sanding sugar while the white chocolate is still wet for added festivity.

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Espresso Nutella Sandwiches

YIELD:  ~12 mini-sandwiches (i.e. 24 cookies, prior to sandwiching)
4 tablespoons butter, softened to room temp
2 tablespoons vegetable shortening
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon espresso powder
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 ounces of a dark chocolate bar, finely chopped/grated (I used 49% cacao)
~1/4 cup chocolate hazelnut spread
Melted white chocolate, for drizzling (optional, but encouraged!)
Cream together butter, shortening, and sugar, beating on medium speed until pale, smooth, and fluffy, ~3 minutes.  Beat in vanilla and espresso powder, and beat an additional 2 minutes to thoroughly combine.  In a large measuring cup, use a fork to combine and aerate flour and salt.  With mixer on low speed, gradually add dry mixture, beating only until dry ingredients are JUST incorporated.  Use a rubber spatula to fold in the finely chopped chocolate.  Scrape the dough out onto a large sheet of plastic wrap, and use the plastic wrap to form the dough into a cylinder with the diameter of your desired cookie size (just over 1″).  wrap the cylinder in the plastic wrap, twisting the ends tightly, and place in a zip-top bag.  Chill in refrigerator for 24-48 hours.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees farenheit.  Unwrap dough cylinder, and use a sharp knife (or an unflavored dental floss noose) to slice log into ~1/8″ slices — since you’ll be sandwiching the cookies, you don’t want them too thick.  Place slices on a cookie sheet prepped with parchment paper, and place cookies on sheet in the freezer for 15 minutes.  Bake (directly from freezer) for 9-11 minutes, until edges are slightly golden-brown, and tops appear set.  Allow to cool on cookie sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to wire racks for complete cooling.
Once cookies have cooled, smear ~1/8″ thick layer of chocolate hazelnut spread on the bottom of half of the cookies (I found that an offset spatula worked perfectly for this step).  Sandwich the naked cookies, bottom-side down, onto the Nutella-ed cookies, and gently press together.  Arrange sandwiched cookies on a wire rack, and drizzle the melted white chocolate over the sandwiches, allowing the drizzle to overlap the sides to prevent the cookies from sliding around on the Nutella interior.  Allow white chocolate to set completely before packaging cookies (either for gifting to others or eating all by yo’self).

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