Cocoa Nib Butter Cookies

Cocoa Nib Butter Cookies
Reprinted from The Essential Baker: The Comprehensive Guide to Baking with Chocolate, Fruit, Nuts, Spices, and Other Ingredients by Carole Bloom (John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2007. Copyright 2007 by Carole Bloom. Used with permission of the publisher.

Makes 6-1/2 dozen cookies

Cocoa nibs and toasted walnuts give these classic butter cookies extra-special flavor and crunchy texture. These are quintessential do-ahead refrigerator cookies because the dough is shaped into logs, which need to be chilled, then the logs are sliced when you're ready to bake the cookies. When you're in the mood, make up a couple of batches of these cookie logs and keep them in the freezer. That way you can make cookies in a snap.

1 cup walnuts
6 ounces (12 tablespoons, 1-1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 extra-large egg, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup cocoa nibs

1. Center a rack in the oven and preheat it to 350 F.

2. Place the walnuts in a single layer in a shallow baking pan and toast in the oven for 7 to 8 minutes, until the nuts turn light golden brown.

3. Remove the pan from the oven and cool completely on a rack. Use a chef's knife to chop the walnuts finely. Or chop the walnuts in the work bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade.

3. Adjust the oven racks to the upper and lower thirds and raise the oven heat to 375 F.

4. Place the butter in the bowl of an electric stand mixer or in a large bowl. Use the flat beater attachment or a hand-held mixer to beat the butter on medium speed until it's fluffy, about 2 minutes.
5. Add the granulated sugar and light brown sugar to the butter, and cream together completely. Stop occasionally and scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula.

6. Lightly beat the egg and vanilla together in a small bowl, then add to the butter mixture and blend together well.

7. Over a large piece of waxed or parchment paper or a bowl, sift together the flour and baking powder. Add the salt and toss to blend.

8. Add the dry ingredients in 3 stages to the butter mixture, blending well after each addition. Stop and scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl after each addition to ensure even mixing.

9. Combine the cocoa nibs and walnuts in a bowl. Stir to blend well. Add this mixture in 2 stages to the dough and blend thoroughly.

10. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and chill for 1 hour, until firm enough to roll into logs.

11. Divide the dough in two and place each half on a large piece of waxed paper. Use the waxed paper to shape and roll the dough into logs about 1-1/4 inches wide and 12 to 13 inches long. Wrap the rolls tightly in the waxed paper and then in plastic wrap. Chill the logs 3 to 4 hours in the refrigerator or 1 hour in the freezer, until firm enough to slice.

12. Line the baking sheets with parchment paper sheets or non-stick liners.

13. Unwrap the cookie logs and place them on a cutting board. Use a sharp knife to slice each roll into 1/2-inch thick slices. Cut straight down and roll the cylinder a quarter turn after every 6 slices so it will keep its round shape. If the dough becomes soft while you work with it, rewrap it and chill for another 10 to 15 minutes, then continue slicing. Place the slices on the baking sheets, leaving 1 inch of space between them.

14. Bake the cookies for 5 minutes, then switch the baking sheets. Bake another 5 to 7 minutes, until set and light golden. Remove the baking sheets from the oven and cool the cookies completely on the baking sheets on racks.

15. Repeat with any remaining cookie logs.