This delicious recipe is also from Alice Medrich’s fabulous book, Cookies and Brownies. I like to serve a variety of shortbread cookies at times. Chocolate shortbread makes a great contrast to the buttery shortbread. Unlike the basic recipe, the chocolate version uses softened butter rather than melted butter. But, it is still a very easy recipe with rich results. Refrigerating the dough overnight is key to a superior shortbread.

CHOCOLATE SHORTBREAD

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons Dutch processed cocoa
  • 12 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 6 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons extra sugar, for sprinkling after baking (raw sugar is best)

Prepare a 9-inch round or 8-inch square pan, or a 9 1/2-inch fluted tart pan by greasing or lining with foil.

Mix the flour and cocoa together thoroughly with a whisk or spoon. Set aside.

With a large spoon or an electric mixer, beat the butter with the sugar, vanilla, and salt until creamy and smooth, but not at all fluffy, less than one minute with the electric mixer. Add the flour mixture and mix just until incorporated. Press the dough evenly in the pan. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight or up to two days.

Preheat the oven to 300°F. Position a rack in the lower third of the oven.

Bake shortbread for 65 to 70 minutes (a few minutes less if using the tart pan), or until firm. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with sugar. Cool for 5 to 10 minutes. Use a thin sharp knife to cut the shortbread into squares, triangles, oblongs, or wedges. Makes 16 large or 32 small pieces.

Be careful to not remove the shortbread too soon from the oven. Underbaked shortbread is dry and crunchy at the edges but doughy in the middle. If this happens, put the pieces on a cookie sheet and return to the oven for 15 minutes at 300° F. If you are unsure about baking long enough, this trick will work very well. With chocolate it is harder to tell if it is done, so it may be best to remove it after 65 minutes and crunch it up more with this method.

VARIATIONS:

Mocha Shortbread: Reduce the cocoa to 2 tablespoons. Combine 4 teaspoons instant espresso powder with the vanilla before adding it to the dough.

Spicy Chocolate Shortbread: Add 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon, a pinch of cayenne, and a pinch of ground black pepper to the flour.

Crunchy Chocolate Shortbread Cookies

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