[Photograph: Carrie Vasios]

When it comes to dessert, I have two "secret ingredients"; two things that I'll sneak into baked goods to make them taste better. The first is instant espresso, which makes anything chocolatey taste even more so. The second is toffee, which is one of my favorite candies and pairs well with fruit, chocolate, cake, cookies—almost anything. It adds a surprising depth of flavor and is even better with a hint of salt.

Strangely, I'd never thought to combine the two in one place. Well, problem solved. I made these drop cookies, which rely on the one-two punch of toffee bits and instant espresso to combine caramel-y sweetness with just enough counteracting bitterness. I used Heath Bits 'O Brickle Toffee Bits which are very tiny pieces of soft "toffee." Typically I prefer hard toffee (like in my go-to toffee cookies) but here the tiny bits create a nice, almost-smooth texture to the cookies, which are just a little chewy. If you can't find the Bits, you can replace them with either a crushed Heath or Skor Bar (if you don't mind adding chocolate to your cookies) or even butterscotch chips. Either way, I'd suggest chopping the replacement toffee finely to keep the cookies from having a chunky texture.

As for the espresso, I used Medaglia D'oro Instant Espresso, which can be found in some supermarkets or online. Whatever your preferred brand, I really recommend keeping some instant espresso in your pantry. If you're like me you'll start using it with abandon—and your life will be all the better for it.

Get the Recipe

Toffee Espresso Drop Cookies »

About the author: Carrie Vasios is the editor of Serious Eats: Sweets. She likes to peruse her large collection of cookbooks while eating jam from the jar. You can follow her on Twitter @carrievasios

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