Several things led me to this particular recipe yesterday -- Chris' mom was coming for a visit and loves chocolate and I had cocoa nibs in my cupboard that I had never used. I remembered seeing a recipe at some point online that used cocoa nibs -- which is why I bought them in the first place, but my gnat memory was failing me (big surprise there) so I turned to google -- luckily, google didn't fail me.
This was part of the Washington Post's Christmas cookie collection this year -- a recipe that caught my eye when I saw it, but didn't make the cut (for whatever reason) for the great Christmas Cookie Baking Extravaganza. The Post article described them as an adult cookie and I can certainly see their point. They are deeply, dark chocolate (I used Hershey's Special Dark cocoa powder) and only very slightly sweet. They are also a shortbread style cookie, but I liked them more than most shortbread cookies, probably because of all the chocolate. I wasn't sure what to expect from the cocoa nibs, but I was surprised by the bitter chocolate flavor they had. They are certainly not something to eat by themselves, but they add a fantastic bitter chocolate finish to the cookie, and a nice texture change.
1 cup flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
6 tablespoons cacao nibs (may crush with a rolling pin, if desired)
1 teaspoon fine or coarse sea salt
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Position oven racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven; preheat to 325 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone liners.
Combine the flour and cocoa powder in a small bowl. Combine the nibs and sea salt in a separate small bowl.
Combine the butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer; beat on medium speed for about 5 minutes, or until light and fluffy, stopping as necessary to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the vanilla extract. Reduce the speed to low; add about 1/2 of the flour-cocoa mixture and mix well, then add the remaining flour-cocoa mixture, stopping as necessary to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Increase the speed to medium and beat for 1 to 2 minutes. Stop the motor and fold in the nibs-salt mixture by hand until well distributed. The dough will be sandy and fairly stiff.
Lightly flour a work surface and rolling pin, or flatten the dough and place it between 2 large pieces of plastic wrap; roll the dough into a square 1/4 inch thick. Using a knife or a cookie cutter, cut into 1-by-2 1/2-inch rectangles or other desired shape, and place the cookies about 1 inch apart on the baking sheets. Bake for 7 minutes, then rotate the baking sheets from top to bottom and front to back; bake for 8 minutes or until their aroma is apparent and the cookie bottoms are crisp. Let them cool on the sheets for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.