Jean’s Java Delights

I designed these cookies for my mother, whose love for coffee knows no bounds. They are, like her, tough little cookies with a sweet center. My perfect mother’s day would involve sitting with her at my kitchen table, eating cookies, drinking coffee, and gossiping. 

Jean’s Java Delights are a basic butter cookie with espresso and coffee syrup. Soften the butter by leaving it out for about an hour before mixing. Do not leave it too long or microwave it too harshly, or the warmed butter will cause the cookies to spread out in the oven.

I used this wonderful coffee syrup from Dave’s Coffee. Coffee syrup is popular in Rhode Island, where it is used to make coffee milk–the official state drink (see discussion’s of this state specialty here and here)–and coffee cabinets (coffee ice cream, coffee syrup, and milk). I grew up drinking the Autocrat brand, but Dave’s was a great find. If coffee syrup isn’t available to you, coffee extract (or vanilla, if you prefer) will work fine.

Roll the cookies into small, 3/4-inch balls, then press down in the center with your thumb.

The key here is to keep the sides of the cookie fairly high, with a relatively narrow depression in the center to keep them from spreading out too much in the oven. They will puff up during baking, so push back down on the center immediately after removing them from the oven.

The filling is made from melted bittersweet chocolate and espresso powder.

Place a small amount of chocolate into each cookie center. Be fairly sparing–the chocolate can be overpowering.

Lastly, I refrigerated them for about 45 minutes to allow the chocolate to set. They do warm up at room temperature, however (next time, I might try making a ganache center instead).

On to the recipe! (With an alternate version below)

Jean’s Java Delights


2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
2 tbsp ground espresso beans
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large egg yolks (reserve whites if using the hazelnut addition below)
2 tsp coffee syrup
8 oz bittersweet chocolate
1 tbsp espresso powder


  1. Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit and line baking pans with parchment paper.
  2. Whisk flour, salt, and cinnamon in a medium-sized bowl and set aside.
  3. In a stand mixer, mix butter and espresso at medium-high speed until smooth.
  4. Add sugar to butter mixture, and mix at medium-high speed until smooth.
  5. Add egg yolks and mix at medium speed until well combined.
  6. Add coffee syrup and mix at high speed to combine.
  7. In thirds, add dry ingredients, mixing between each addition at low speed until just combined. Use a spatula to scrape any remaining dough from sides and bottom of bowl as you go.
  8. Roll into 3/4-inch balls and place on prepared pans about 2 inches apart. Depress center of each ball with your thumb.
  9. Bake for 9-11 minutes. Remove from oven and let stand about 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
  10. To make chocolate center, chop chocolate into small pieces and set into the bowl of a double boiler. Lightly simmer water (it should not boil) while stirring the chocolate with a spatula until smooth. Remove bowl from heat while wiping off condensation from the bottom of the bowl. Allow to cool slightly, then add espresso powder and stir. Begin spooning chocolate into cookies. If chocolate begins to harden at any point, you can reheat mixture slightly to make more pliable.

Voila! Cookies for mom.

Happy mother’s day, mom. Wish you were here.

Lastly, a hazelnut addition–these are also quite good, but the coffee flavor is hidden somewhat by the hazelnuts:

Bake about 4.5 ounces (2 cups) of hazelnuts at 275 degrees Fahrenheit for 20-25 minutes, then rub the skins off the nuts and use a food processor to pulverize (about 10 seconds of pulsing). This should make about 1.25 cups of finely chopped hazelnuts. Set these out in a wide, shallow bowl. Then whisk two egg whites with your fork. Form cookies into small balls as before, then roll them alternately in egg whites and hazelnuts and set them on a pan. Prepare for baking as above, but bake at 350 degrees for 11-13 minutes. The rest of the recipe is the same.


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