Chocolate Shortbread Cookies — chocolate , cookies , dessert , favorite recipes , shortbread — For Two, Please

December 23, 2009

Chocolate Shortbread Cookies

No Christmas is a real Christmas without cookies. And now that it's practically here, I had to make this cookie recipe that I'd been eying for a while. Not that these are necessarily Christmas cookies, but they are equally special and decadent -- if not better.

I got this recipe from the lovely Dorie Greenspan, who says: "These cookies are chocolate sables, French shortbreads, but because they've got more brown sugar than white in them, they've got more chew than most shortbreads. They've also got a generous amount of dark chocolate chunks and enough fleur de sel (moist, coarse-grained French "finishing" salt) to make them noticeably salty and completely addictive, in the way so many good things with salt are."

She had me at French shortbreads -- I was looking for a rich, buttery cookie with a crisp yet crumbly texture. But when I read the words chocolate and fleur de sel? I got pretty excited; you can't get a better combination than that.

While the contrast between sweet and salty is definitely prevalent in this cookie, it's really the intensity of the chocolate that makes it so addictive. The fleur de sel is what does it -- with just a pinch of salt, the complexity and flavor of the dark chocolate really comes out without being overwhelmingly sweet. Bonus points for the little bits of bittersweet chocolate pieces that are mixed into the cookie as well.

Good thing I made this while our close friends were staying with us this past weekend. Otherwise, it would have been a very dangerous Christmas for our tummies...;)

World Peace Cookies
Baking: From My Home to Yours (Dorie Greenspan)

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup high quality, unsweetened cocoa powder such as Valrhona or Scharffenberger
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 stick plus 3 tablespoons (11 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup (packed) light brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon fleur de sel or 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
5 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped into chips, or a generous 3/4 cup store-bought mini chocolate chips

Sift the flour, cocoa and baking soda together.

Beat the butter on medium speed until soft and creamy. Add both sugars, the salt and vanilla extract and beat for 2 minutes more.

Mix in the flour until it disappears into the dough — for the best texture, work the dough as little as possible once the flour is added, and don’t be concerned if the dough looks a little crumbly. Toss in the chocolate pieces and mix only to incorporate.

Turn the dough out onto a work surface, gather it together and divide it in half. Working with one half at a time, shape the dough into logs that are 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Wrap the logs in plastic wrap and refrigerate them for at least 3 hours. (The dough can be refrigerated for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 2 months. If you’ve frozen the dough, you needn’t defrost it before baking — just slice the logs into cookies and bake the cookies 1 minute longer.)

GETTING READY TO BAKE: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment or silicone mats.

Working with a sharp thin knife, slice the logs into rounds that are 1/2 inch thick. (The rounds are likely to crack as you’re cutting them — don’t be concerned, just squeeze the bits back onto each cookie.) Arrange the rounds on the baking sheets, leaving about 1 inch between them.

Bake the cookies one sheet at a time for 12 minutes — they won’t look done, nor will they be firm, but that’s just the way they should be. Transfer the baking sheet to a cooling rack and let the cookies rest until they are only just warm, at which point you can serve them or let them reach room temperature.

SERVING: The cookies can be eaten when they are warm or at room temperature — I prefer them at room temperature, when the textural difference between the crumbly cookie and the chocolate bits is greatest — and are best suited to cold milk or hot coffee.

STORING: Packed airtight, cookies will keep at room temperature for up to 3 days; they can be frozen for up to 2 months.

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