If you have never had Vietnamese coffee, you’re missing out. It has a sweetness that American and European coffee does not have. It’s got a bit of a ruggedness to it too. I had it for the first time a couple years ago, and it has been a favorite flavor of mine ever since. The stuff is strong. I’ve been trying to find ways to incorporate it into desserts with limited degrees of success.
Vietnamese coffee is prepared in a metal filter that is placed on top of the coffee cup. For best results, put a little condensed milk in the coffee cup first, stick the filter on top, and add about 3 tablespoons of Vietnamese coffee into the filter. Fill the filter about halfway with boiling water. About 30 seconds later, when the water has drained, pour in enough water to fill the filter to the brim, then cover with the filter lid, and let it drip for about 7 minutes.
Yes, the quantity you’ll get will be much less than you’ll receive at Starbucks. But it’ll be strong. Resist the urge to try to fill your cup. Stir in your condensed milk, and enjoy! The condensed milk makes it creamy, which is important, given the sweet strength of the straight coffee.
It’s a really complex flavor that I have been dying to experiment with.
Thus, when I saw Smitten Kitchen’s recipe for espresso-chocolate shortbread cookies, I was excited to give it a try, but with a Vietnamese coffee touch. I closely followed the shortbread recipe provided on Smitten Kitchen, but instead of using an instant espresso stick, I brewed up some Vietnamese coffee and added that to my cookie batter. I’ve used both semi-sweet mini chocolate chips for this recipe and dark chocolate (roughly chopped). Both were nice.
I got a very adult shortbread cookie. It had the lovely complexity of Vietnamese coffee, but the nostalgia of a shortbread cookie. The simple pleasure of the chocolate chips made it absolutely irresistible. I took my first batch to work with me. My coworkers (Japanese men!) promptly devoured them. One made (this is not an exaggeration) four trips to the temporary office cookie reserve. On his fourth trip he stated, “Oh my God, I can’t stop. These are like drugs.”
As you would imagine, they pair well with coffee. They’re a great post-lunch dessert. Of course, if you’re anything like me, you’ll find yourself reaching for a couple at all hours of the day. The recipe makes quite a few bite-size cookies. But they’ll go fast. I’ve made the recipe twice now, and I can confidently say these are cookies that you absolutely cannot keep to yourself because you will eat them all. Make and share!
Recipe (adapted from Smitten Kitchen):
1 tablespoon (about 4 grams) Vietnamese coffee grounds
1 tablespoon (15 ml) boiling water
2 sticks (8 ounces or 225 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup (80 grams) confectioners’ sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon coarse, sea or kosher salt
2 cups (250 grams) all-purpose flour
4 ounces (115 grams) bittersweet chocolate (plain, or a toffee variety), finely chopped, or 3/4 cup store-bought mini chocolate chips
Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting (optional)
- Place the Vietnamese coffee in a coffee filter over a cup. Boil water, and pour water over the coffee, making sure to pour enough to ensure 1 tbsp of Vietnamese coffee in the cup below.
- In a large bowl, beat the sugar and butter together until smooth (I used a hand mixer and had fine results). Next, add the vanilla, Vietnamese coffee, and salt. When it’s integrated, add the flour and mix until it just becomes smooth. Fold in chocolate.
- Divide dough into two portions, and flatten into a rough rectangle shape in cling wrap. Gently roll the dough into a tube-like shape, being careful not to let the cling wrap overlap with the dough. Refrigerate for two hours.
- Line two baking sheets with parchment paper, and heat the oven to 160 degrees C (325 degrees F).
- Remove the dough from the refrigerator and cut each roll of dough into small cookies roughly 10 mm thick. Place on parchment paper and bake in oven 18-20 minutes. Remove from oven when pale and just beginning to brown. Move to rack, allow to cool, and enjoy.