Shortbread, Sables, Sandies…
All names for those cookies with a “short” texture: tender, crumbly and melt-in-your mouth. These chocolate shortbread cookies are just screaming out for a glass of cold milk or a hot cup of coffee. They are not too sweet, have a little of touch of salt and finish with a taste of bittersweet chocolate.
It took me 6 batches and a lot of tweaking to get the recipe just right. The mixing method is not what’s typical for most cookies where you “cream” the butter and sugar to make it light and fluffy. For these shortbread, you “cut” (with your stand mixer flat beater or with a pastry cutter) cold butter chunks into the dry ingredients; the way you would for pie crust, scones and biscuits. It helps to create that tender-“crisp” texture – some folks even make them in their food processor.
“Bloom” the Cocoa Powder:
There isn’t really any liquid in the recipe, no eggs or milk – only a little vanilla extract. Due to this the cocoa powder was tasting too “powdery” in my first batches. I thought about the way I combine chocolate with melted butter to make brownies, and decided to melt just a few tablespoons of the butter and stir in the cocoa powder to help moisten the cocoa. I then add this “cocoa paste” as the final step of the mixing process. That did the trick!
After a little noodling online I discovered this is called “blooming” the cocoa – and it helps to release more chocolate flavor – much like some dried spices like to be bloomed in oil to release their full flavor.
Form Cookies: 3 Ways:
Once your dough is mixed, you can decide how you want to form your shortbread. For each of the 3 methods it’s a good idea to chill the dough, so the butter firms up nicely.
1. Slice & Bake:
2. Form Balls & Flatten:
This is my preferred method – I like the generous size (3 – 3 1/2″) of the cookies. They’re large enough to decorate and thin enough to sandwich two together with a filling.
3. Press in Pan & Cut Wedges:
This method is very easy. Just press the dough into a prepared 9 x 9″ pan. “Dock” (poke) the dough with a fork to help release steam. If you like a thicker, crisper shortbread that you can really sink your teeth into – then these chocolate shortbread wedges are for you!
Chocolate Shortbread Cookies
- 1/2 stick (4 tablespoons) salted butter, melted
- 1/2 cup cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup confectioners' (powdered) sugar
- 1 1/2 cups flour
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/2 sticks (12 tablespoons) salted butter cut into 1/2" cubes and very cold
White Chocolate Drizzle: (optional)
- 1 cup white chocolate chips
- 2 teaspoons solid vegetable shortening (such as Crisco) or solid coconut oil
Mix the Dough:
- In a small bowl, stir cocoa powder and vanilla into melted butter (4 tablespoons) and let sit.
- Stir together powdered sugar, flour and salt in mixing bowl.
- Use flat beater (if using stand mixer) to cut the cold cubed butter into the dry ingredients: turn mixer on low and add a few pieces of butter at a time. Mix until it forms a sandy texture with no butter pieces larger than a pea.
- Add the cocoa/butter mixture and mix just until all is combined. (If it seems to not come together, just keep mixing, depending on the temperature of the ingredients, sometimes it can take a little longer.)
3-Ways to form Chocolate Shortbread Cookies:
- Slice & Bake: Roll the dough into an even log shape and wrap in plastic wrap or parchment. (The diameter of the log will be about the diameter of the cookies, as they don't spread much.) Chill until firm (an hour or more.) Roll the log in sugar if desired. Slice the thickness you'd like your cookies and place on parchment lined or greased baking sheet. Bake at 325 degrees F. for 10-13 minutes depending upon thickness of cookie. Cool on baking sheet.
- Roll & Flatten: Roll the dough into an even log shape and wrap in plastic wrap or parchment. Chill until firm (an hour or more.) Cut the log into 16 portions. Roll each portion into a ball. Place each ball onto a parchment lined or greased baking sheet. Flatten each ball with a flat bottomed glass dipped in sugar. I flattened mine to be about 1/8 - 1/4-inch thick and 3 - 3 1/2-inch diameter (they don't spread much.) Bake at 325 degrees F. for 10-13 minutes depending upon thickness of cookie. They will puff up a little in the center when they're about done. Cool on baking sheet. Remove to cooling rack - they will firm up as they cool.
- Bake in Pan: Pat the dough into a greased 9 x 9" square baking pan. Dock (prick) all over with a fork, cover with plastic wrap or foil and chill until firm (an hour or more.) Bake at 325 degrees F. for 25-30 minutes. Turn out of pan onto cutting board while still warm and cut. They will firm up (and be harder to cut) when cool.