The dusting of cocoa on these little cookies, much like that on a chocolate truffle, may seem to promise a similar velvety interior, but the illusion is fleeting. One bite reveals the unmistakable crumbly texture of shortbread. If giving as a gift, enclose about three tablespoons of cocoa powder in a small bag, along with instructions for dusting.
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, plus more for dusting
- 1/4 teaspoon table salt
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract (optional)
Sift together flour, cocoa, and salt into a bowl.
Place butter in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on medium speed until fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add sugar, and beat about 2 minutes more, until very light in color and fluffy, occasionally scraping down the sides of the bowl with a spatula. Add vanilla, if using. Add flour mixture, and combine on low speed, scraping with spatula if necessary, until flour is just incorporated and dough sticks together when squeezed with fingers. Form dough into a flattened disk; wrap in plastic. Chill until firm, at least 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
Using a spoon, form dough into 1-inch balls; place on prepared baking sheet. Bake until firm, 20 to 25 minutes, rotating halfway through. Cool completely on wire rack. Dust with cocoa powder just before serving.