Salted Chocolate Chunk Shortbread Cookies

The New York Times was stalking me with this recipe. I had already cut the recipe out of their Food section and bookmarked it on my computer- on separate occasions. But I also received multiple emails from The NYTimes and Bon Appétit recommending this “wildly popular” recipe. I finally made them for our Super Bowl Sunday dessert. Delicious!

This recipe was adapted from Alison Roman’s cookbook, Dining In: Highly Cookable Recipes, via The New York Times. I used Trader Joe’s Cultured Salted Butter from Brittany, France as well as Trader Joe’s semi-sweet chocolate chunks. I sprinkled the top of the cookies with Fleur de Sel prior to baking. They were big cookies- quite indulgent and chocolatey.

Yield: 20 to 24 cookies

  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons/255 grams total (2¼ sticks) salted butter, cold (room temperature if you’re using a handheld mixer), cut into ½-inch pieces (I used 250 grams of room temperature Trader Joe’s Cultured Salted butter from Brittany, France)
  • ½ cup/101 grams granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup/55 grams light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 ½ cups/326 grams all-purpose flour
  • 6 ounces/170 grams semi-sweet or bittersweet dark chocolate, chopped (not too fine; you want chunks, not little shards)
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • Demerara or Turbinado sugar, for rolling
  • flaky sea salt, such as Fleur de Sel, for sprinkling
  1. Line two rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or an electric hand mixer, beat the butter, both sugars and vanilla on medium-high till it’s super light and fluffy (3 to 5 minutes for a stand mixer; 6 to 8 for a hand mixer).
  3. Using a spatula, scrape down the sides of the bowl and, with the mixer on low, slowly add the flour, followed by the chocolate chunks, and mix just to blend. If necessary, knead the dough with your hands to make sure the flour is totally incorporated. At this point, the dough should be smooth and feel like Play-Doh with no pockets of flour.
  4. Divide the dough in half, placing each half on a large piece of plastic wrap. Fold the plastic over so that it covers the dough to protect your hands from getting all sticky. Using your hands, form the dough into a log shape; rolling it on the counter will help you smooth it out, but don’t worry about getting it perfect. (Don’t be afraid to make them compact. Shortbread is supposed to be dense. That’s part of why it’s so good.) You can also do this using parchment paper, if you prefer, but plastic wrap is easier when it comes to shaping the log. Each half should form a 6-inch log, 2 to 2¼ inches in diameter.
  5. Chill until totally firm, about 2 hours. I positioned the dough logs upright in the refrigerator and chilled them overnight.
  6. Heat the oven to 350 degrees, preferably on convection.
  7. Brush the outside of the logs with the beaten egg and roll them in the Demerara or turbinado sugar (this is for those really delicious, crisp edges).
  8. Using a serrated knife, carefully slice each log into ½-inch-thick rounds (if you hit a chocolate chunk, slowly saw back and forth through the chocolate). If the cookies break or fall apart, just press them back together — the dough is very forgiving.
  9. Place them on the prepared baking sheets about 1 inch apart (they won’t spread much). Sprinkle with flaky salt. Bake until the edges are just beginning to brown, 12 to 15 minutes.

Note: The cookie dough can be made ahead and stored, tightly wrapped in plastic, up to 1 week in the refrigerator, or 1 month in the freezer. Cookies can be baked and stored in plastic wrap or an airtight container for 5 days.

Samoa Brownies

When I first saw photos of these brownies, I knew that I needed some reason to make them. Making a fabulous upgraded version of our favorite girl scout cookies was absolutely irresistible. Then I realized that all we needed were friends to share them with! Needless to say, that was easy. 🙂

This recipe was adapted from Host the Toast, via Jhuls @ The Not So Creative Cook. I modified the baking times and used jarred dulce de leche instead of caramel sauce. I also combined dark and semi-sweet chocolate for the drizzle. Yummy!

For the Cookie Crust:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, cold and cut into pieces

For the Brownies:

  • 1⅓ cups dark chocolate chips
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • ⅓ cup unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 2 T water
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ¾ cup all-purpose flour
  • ¼ tsp coarse salt

For the Caramel-Coconut Topping:

  • 1 cup sweetened flaked coconut, toasted
  • 1 cup caramel sauce (I used dulce de leche)

For the Chocolate Dip and Drizzle:

  • 4 oz dark chocolate chips, melted
  • 4 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips, melted

To Make the Cookie Crust:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F, preferably on convection.
  2. Line an 9 x 9 baking pan parchment paper hanging on the sides (for easier removal) and spray with non-stick spray.
  3. In a bowl, combine all ingredients for the cookie crust. Using a food processor or pastry cutter, pulse or mix the dough until crumbly.
  4. Evenly spread and pat the cookie crust into the bottom of the parchment-lined baking pan. Bake for about 15 minutes or until the cookie crust turns light golden brown.
  5. Keep in the fridge to cool.

Meanwhile, Make the Brownies:

  1. In a bowl, place the dark chocolate chips. Set aside. IMG_3361
  2. In a small saucepan, add butter, water and sugar. Bring the mixture to a boil and remove from heat. Pour onto the chocolate chips and stir the mixture until chocolate has completely melted. Let cool for a bit.
  3. When the chocolate mixture has cooled down, mix in eggs and vanilla extract.
  4. Add in flour and salt. Mix to incorporate well.
  5. Once the cookie crust has cooled, pour the brownie batter onto the top. Bake for about 25 (on convection) or up to 35 minutes (standard oven), or until toothpick inserted comes out with few crumbs (but not wet) batter.
  6. Let the brownies cool on a wire rack and transfer to the freezer to chill up quickly. (Do not remove from the pan.)

While waiting for the brownies to firm up…

Make the Caramel-Coconut Topping:

  1. Spread your sweetened flaked coconut on a baking sheet and toast for 5 to 7 minutes at 350 F, on convection. Watch carefully as the coconut may turn very quickly from beautiful golden from to burnt. Make sure stir the coconut once in a while to avoid burning.
  2. Mix the toasted coconut and the dulce de leche/caramel sauce. (If you just took your caramel sauce out from the fridge, you can microwave it first to thin it a bit. I heated mine for about 30 seconds and stirred it prior to using.)
  3. Spread the caramel-coconut topping over the chilled brownies.
  4. Place back in the fridge to chill again for at least an hour.

For the Chocolate Dip and Drizzle:

  1. Remove the brownies from the fridge.
  2. Grab the sides of the parchment paper and lift the brownies from the pan. Remove the parchment paper and cut them into smallish squares.
  3. Place about 2/3 of the mixed chocolate chips in a bowl and melt in the microwave with 30 seconds interval, stirring in between. You can also melt your chocolate in a bowl over a pan of simmering water. (I usually have more success with the double-boiler method.)
  4. Dip each brownie bottom into the melted chocolate and place upside-down on another sheet of parchment paper to let dry.
  5. When the chocolate coating has cooled, turn each piece right side up. Melt the remaining chocolate as directed above.
  6. Drizzle the remaining chocolate over the top of the Samoa Brownies. You can eat right away or you can let the chocolate drizzle firm up before serving.

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Whole Wheat Gooseberry & Almond Squares

Gooseberries were completely new to me this summer. When I received my second batch of gooseberries in my CSA share, I was stumped. I thought I had peaked with my Gooseberry & Blueberry Galette. 😉 I searched far and wide for a special way to use them. This crumbly, shortbread-like bar was a perfect choice! We ate them for dessert with ice cream, and then ate leftovers for breakfast. They were great with a cup of coffee. 🙂

This recipe was adapted from Good Food Magazine, via BBC’s Good Food.com. I used whole wheat pastry flour instead of white self-rising, light brown sugar instead of muscovado, and granulated sugar instead of caster. Earthy and nice.

  • 250 g (2 sticks, 1 cup) chilled unsalted butter, chopped
  • 2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp coarse salt
  • 125 g ground almonds (almond flour)
  • 125 g light brown sugar
  • 350 g fresh gooseberries
  • 85 g granulated sugar, plus 1-2 T extra for sprinkling
  • 50 g slivered almonds
  1. Heat oven to 325 F (convection) / 170 C fan. Line a 9 x 13-inch (27 x 18-cm) baking pan with parchment paper.
  2. Whisk to combine the flour, baking powder, and salt.
  3. Rub the butter into the flour mixture, ground almonds, and light brown sugar to make crumbs, then firmly press two-thirds into the base and sides of the prepared pan.
  4. Toss the gooseberries with the granulated sugar, then scatter over the top.
  5. Mix the flaked almonds into the remaining crumbs, then scatter over the gooseberries.
  6. Bake for 45 minutes or up to 1 hour, until golden and the fruit is bubbling a little around the edges.
  7. Sprinkle with the remaining granulated sugar, then cool in the pan.
  8. Cut into squares and enjoy with a cup of coffee or tea or serve as a dessert with ice cream or fresh whipped cream.

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Tate’s Shortbread

My way of celebrating a friend’s birthday is to bake something for her… This is difficult for one of my buddies because she isn’t really a fan of desserts. It’s terrible. 😉 (One year I actually just gave her butter! – it was special butter…) Well, lucky for me, I was able to find the recipe for her absolute favorite cookies this year. Yay! Shortbread from Southampton, New York’s Tate’s Bake Shop.

This super simple recipe results in perfect, slightly crunchy, crumbly cookies. The recipe was adapted from Baking for Friends by Kathleen King, owner and founder of Tate’s Bake Shop, via redtri.com. I used unsalted butter and coarse salt instead of salted butter. Delicious!

Yield: Makes 32 cookies

  • 3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 c granulated sugar
  • 3/4 lb (3 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cubed
  • 3/4 to 1 tsp coarse salt
  1. Position an oven rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit (on convection). Line the bottom and 2 short ends of a 13-by-9-inch baking pan with parchment paper or a 20-inch length of aluminum foil, pleating the foil as needed, and letting the excess foil hang over the ends. Butter or lightly spray the parchment with cooking oil.
  2. In the bowl of a standing, heavy-duty electric mixer, combine the flour, salt, and sugar. Add the butter and mix with the paddle attachment on low-speed until the mixture looks crumbly, about 1-½ minutes. (Add any of the variation flavorings listed below at this point.) Press firmly and evenly into the prepared pan. (I use the base of a dry measuring cup.)
  3. Bake until the shortbread is golden brown on top and slightly darker around the edges, about 1 hour. Cut into 32 pieces while still warm. (If cooled before cutting, the shortbread will break.) Let cool completely in the pan on a wire cooling rack.
  4. Run a dinner knife around the inside of the pan to loosen the shortbread. Lift up the parchment or foil “handles” to remove the shortbread from the pan. Cut through the previously cut marks into 32 pieces.

Other variations:

Lemon Ginger Shortbread: Add 1 cup chopped crystallized ginger, 1 cup minced candied lemon peel (or the grated zest of 1 lemon), and 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice.

Brown Sugar Ginger Shortbread: Substitute 1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar for the granulated sugar, and add 1 cup crystallized ginger.

Chocolate Chip Shortbread: Add 1-cup (6 ounces) miniature chocolate chips

Pecan Shortbread: Add 1 cup toasted and finely chopped pecans.

One Year Ago:

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Vanilla-Bean Sablés

I learned so many things from this recipe! My first lesson was to learn that the sablé, a simple shortbread cookie, is the French equivalent of the American chocolate chip cookie. The “icon.” Greenspan says that these cookies are really known for their fine texture (sablé means sandy)- “snappy around the edges, cakier in the center- its fresh butter flavor and, often, its bit of saltiness.” I HAD to try her version- what an irresistible description!! 🙂

Typically, the sugar and butter in cookie dough are mixed until light and fluffy. My next lesson was learning that in order to achieve the desired sandy texture in these cookies, the sugar and butter are mixed only until a smooth consistency is achieved (much less) so that air is not incorporated into the dough.

My third (most exciting!) lesson was learning how to achieve super-tight cookie logs! Greenspan includes her party-trick technique (with photos in the book) that I describe below to share with you. Worked perfectly. LOVE it!!

This recipe is from Baking Chez Moi: Recipes from My Paris Home to Your Home Anywhere by Dorie Greenspan. Delicious and pretty cookies- perfect for dessert, a snack, or with a cup of tea.

I’m sharing these with my friends for Fiesta Friday #60 at The Novice Gardener- Enjoy!!

Yield: about 36 cookies

For the Dough:

  • 1/3 cup (67 grams) granulated sugar
  • 2 moist, fragrant vanilla beans
  • 2 sticks (8 oz; 226 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/3 cup (40 grams) confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 2 cups (272 grams) all-purpose flour

For the Edging:

  • 1 large egg yolk
  • coarse sanding sugar or turbinado sugar
  1. Put the granulated sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.
  2. Cut the vanilla beans in half lengthwise and scrape the pulp over the sugar. (I save the pods in a jar filled with turbinado sugar to make vanilla sugar.) Using your fingertips, rub the vanilla pulp into the sugar until it’s fragrant.
  3. Add the butter, confectioners’ sugar and salt to the bowl and beat on low speed until the mixture is smooth and creamy (you DON’T want it to get light and fluffy), scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed.
  4. Drop in the egg yolk and beat for 1 minute.
  5. Add the flour all at once and pulse the mixer on and off to start incorporating it into the dough. Mix on low speed just until the flour has disappeared (or do this last little bit by hand with a flexible spatula).
  6. Turn the dough out onto a work surface and divide it in half. Shape each half into a log about 9 inches long. (**Trick to get really tight logs (perfectly round and free of air pockets): Place a large sheet of parchment paper on the counter. Place the cookie log one-third in and parallel to one short edge. Fold the remaining two-thirds of the parchment paper over the log. Grab the bottom edge of the parchment with one hand and place a ruler on top of the overlaying parchment with the other hand. Wedge the ruler against the bottom of the log. Push the ruler under the log at the same time that you pull the bottom paper toward you. Don’t be afraid to aggressively push and pull- it will result in a firm log. Lift the paper off of the dough.**)
  7. Wrap the logs in parchment and/or plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 3 hours. (They can be wrapped airtight and put in the freezer for up to 2 months. Let the logs sit at room temperature for 10 minutes before cutting and baking; no need to fully defrost.) I place them in a wrapping paper tube in order to ensure that they keep their round shape in the refrigerator.
  8. To Bake: Position the racks to divide the oven into thirds and preheat the oven to 350 degrees (on convection). Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.
  9. Add a splash of cold water to the yolk and mix with a fork to blend. Brush each log with this egg wash and roll it in sanding sugar until it’s evenly coated.
  10. Using a sturdy knife, trim the ends of the logs if they’re ragged, then cut the dough int 1/2-inch thick rounds. Place them on the baking sheets, about 2 inches apart.
  11. Bake the cookies for 14 to 15 minutes (on convection) or for up to 18 to 22 minutes in a standard oven, rotating the pans from top to bottom and front to back at the midway point. The cookies are baked when they are brown around the edges and golden on the bottom.
  12. Carefully transfer them to a cooling rack and cool to room temperature. These cookies really shouldn’t be eaten warm; they need time to cool so that their texture will set properly. The cookies will keep in an airtight container for about one week.

Variations:

  • Lemon Sablés: Rub the grated zest of 1 1/2 lemons into the sugar with the vanilla bean.
  • Orange Sablés: Rub the grated zest of 1 orange into the sugar with the vanilla bean.
  • Nut Sablés: Lightly toast 1/2 cup hazelnuts (skin them while they are still warm), almonds, pistachios, or other nuts, finely chop them and mix them into the dough once the flour is incorporated.

One Year Ago:

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Salted Dulce de Leche Shortbread (Alfajores) Bars

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I first spotted (and bookmarked!) Alfajores on What Jessica Baked Next– South American shortbread sandwich cookies filled with Dulce de Leche. They were beautiful, no-doubt delicious, yet labor intensive and time-consuming. More for winter baking, not summer baking! I was thrilled to spot this shortcut version on Bourbon and Brown Sugar adapted from Jill O’Connor’s Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey cookbook. EASY and delicious. Yay! I used unsalted butter, cut the recipe in half, and modified the baking times. We gobbled them up. 🙂

  • 2 sticks unsalted butter (1/2 pound), at room temperature (if using salted butter, omit the coarse salt)
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/2 T vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp coarse salt
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 8 oz Dulce de Leche (about 1/2 of a jar, or to taste)
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the butter and sugars. Beat until creamy, about 3 minutes. Add the vanilla and mix until combined.
  3. Add the salt and flour, and mix on low-speed until a smooth, soft dough forms.
  4. Line an 8×8-inch baking pan with parchment paper. Press approximately half of the dough into the bottom of the pan and spread evenly to form a bottom crust. Place remaining dough aside in the refrigerator to chill.
  5. Bake the bottom crust until firm, and the edges are a pale golden brown, approximately 15 minutes in a convection oven or 20 minutes in a standard oven. When the bottom crust is finished, let it rest for 5 minutes.
  6. Microwave the Dulce de Leche for approximately 30 seconds so that it softens and is easier to spread.
  7. Spoon the Dulce de Leche onto the bottom crust and spread it evenly.
  8. Remove the remaining chilled dough from the refrigerator and crumble it over the top of the Dulce de Leche.
  9. Sprinkle the sea salt over the top of the crumbled dough.
  10. Return the pan to the oven and bake until the filling is bubbly and the crumbled shortbread topping is firm and lightly golden brown, approximately 20 minutes in a convection oven or up to 30 minutes in a standard oven.
  11. Let the cookies cool completely on a wire rack before cutting into squares.

One Year Ago:

Bouchon Bakery Shortbread

IMG_7997

Shortbread cookies are simple, rich, and perfect. 🙂 In this version, the cookies are cut into precise rectangles and then dusted with granulated sugar prior to baking. I LOVED the crisp presentation. This recipe is from Bouchon Bakery by Thomas Keller and Sebastien Rouxel. I followed the recipe very precisely, weighing all of the ingredients- with the exception of the sugar dusting. I may have been more generous….

I brought these cookies to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day at a friend’s home. They were a huge hit! I have many requests for another batch. 🙂

  • 180 g (6.3 oz) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 90 g (1/2 cup) granulated sugar
  • 2 g (1/2 + 1/8 tsp) Kosher salt
  • 1 tsp (5.9 g) vanilla bean paste
  • 270 g (1 3/4 cups + 3 T) all-purpose flour
  • 2 T (24 g) granulated sugar, for dusting
  1. Place the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Turn to medium-low speed and cream until smooth, about 3 minutes.
  2. Add the 90 grams of granulated sugar and the salt and mix on medium-low speed for about 2 minutes, until fluffy. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl.
  3. Add the vanilla bean paste and mix on low speed for about 30 seconds to distribute it evenly.
  4. Add the flour in 2 additions, mixing on low speed for 15 to 30 seconds after each, or until just combined. Scrape the bottom of the bowl to incorporate any flour that may have settled there.
  5. Mound the dough on the work surface (I put it on plastic wrap as well) and, using the heel of your hand or a pastry scraper, push it together into a 5-inch-square block. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, until firm. (The dough can be refrigerated for up to 2 days or frozen for up to 1 month.)
  6. Positions the oven racks int he upper and lower thirds of the oven and preheat the oven to 325 degrees (convection). Line 2 sheet pans with Silpats or parchment paper.
  7. Unwrap the dough and place it between two pieces of parchment paper or plastic wrap. With a rolling pin, pound the top of the dough, working from left to right, to begin to flatten it, then turn the dough 90 degrees and repeat. (This will help prevent the dough from cracking as it is rolled.) Roll out to a 9-inch square. If the dough has softened, slide it (in the plastic wrap or parchment) onto the back of a sheet pan and refrigerate it until it is firm enough to score.
  8. Using a chef’s knife and a ruler, score the dough horizontally 3 times to mark four 2 1/4-inch-wide strips. Then score it vertically 5 times at 1 1/2-inch intervals (for a total of 24 sections). If the dough is not cool to the touch refrigerate it. Once it is firm, cut through the markings. (The dough can be shaped in advance. I always refrigerate the cut dough at least one hour prior to baking; I think that the cookie shape stays more sharp.)
  9. Dust the tops of the shortbread with the 24 grams/2 tablespoons of granulated sugar (I didn’t measure!!!) and arrange on the prepared sheet pans, leaving about 3/4-inch between them.
  10. Bake until pale golden brown, 13 to 15 minutes in a convection oven, 17 to 19 minutes in a standard oven, reversing the positions of the pans halfway through baking.
  11. Set the pans on a cooling rack and cool 5 to 10 minutes, then transfer the cookies to the rack to cool completely. The shortbread can be stored in a covered container for up to 3 days. (We ate all of ours right away!)

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