These chocolate Shortbread Cookies are simply the best! Made with just 4 main ingredients, they are crisp, tender and simply melts in your mouth.
Shortbread Cookies aren't just for the holidays! Although they are particularly popular as a Christmas treat, these are perfect all year round with a cup of coffee or just as sweet treat like this Chocolate Peanut Clusters.
These chocolate shortbread cookies are mildly sweet, utterly buttery, delicious have a wonderful crisp, flaky and crumbly texture that just melts in your mouth, just like the cashew cookies or Santa's whiskers cookies.
What are shortbreads? Originating in Scotland, it is a quintessential cookie made using just flour, butter and sugar, and sometimes with additional flavorings, like ground cardamom in cardamom cookies.
Referred to as 'short' due to its high proportion of butter to sugar, which restricts gluten development like a shortcrust pastry, this recipe yields a delicate, crumbly texture owing to its elevated butter content and lack of liquids.
Unlike other recipes, shortbreads don't have any leavening agents like baking powder or baking soda which gives them the melt in your mouth texture.
These chocolate shortbread cookies are amazing on their own, yet they're incredibly versatile. They can be enhanced by dipping them in icing, glazing or sandwiching them with jam.
Piercing shortbread cookies with a fork or toothpick before baking is tradional in Scotish biscuits. It helps prevent excessive rising or puffing during baking, keeping them flat.
Piercing can also create decorative patterns on the surface of the cookies, adding a traditional or artistic appearance. However, these chocolate shortbread cookies are sliced slightly thinner and eleminates the addional step of piercing.
Why you'll love them?
- They are crisp, crumbly, airy, tender and just dissolves in your mouth like candle cookies.
- Buttery, mildly sweet and chocolatey.
- Only 4 basic pantry ingredients.
- No cookie cutters or rolling pins needed.
- Both dough and cookies and be frozen.
Scroll down to the recipe card below for full information on ingredients and amounts.
- Butter - Use unsalted butter at room temperature. The time required for the butter to reach room temperature can vary, typically taking anywhere from 2 to 5 hours depending on the weather. If using salted butter, skip adding additional salt to the recipe.
- Flour - Unbleached all purpose flour as in brown sugar shortbreads.
- Sugar - The secret to achieving the utterly delicious, melt-in-your-mouth texture lies in confectioners' sugar. The cornstarch present in confectioners' sugar prevents excessive spreading and contributes to a tender texture, like in pecan snowball cookies.
- Cocoa powder - I used Hersheys natural nnsweetened cocoa.
How to make?
You can find full printable recipe below, but here is a quick overview of the procedure along with step-by-step photos.
1.Add flour, cocoa powder and salt into a small bowl and whisk to combine.
2. Add butter into another larger bowl, beat with a hand held electric beater for 1 minute. Add confectioners sugar and vanilla extract and continue beating until creamy, additional one minute.
3 & 4. Add whisked flour mixture and continue beating on low speed, until it looks crumbly (don't over mix).
Pro tip: If your dough appears too dry, add a teaspoon of milk until it holds together. Conversely, if the dough seems too wet, gently mix in a small amount of additional flour or cocoa powder.
5. Transfer dough onto a work surface and gently knead to form a smooth ball. Transfer dough onto a parchment paper and roll with the help of parchment to make a uniform log of 7 to 8 inches long.
Wrap log in parchment and chill in the refrigerator until firm ( overnight or up to 2 days).
How to keep them round?
Wrap the chocolate shortbread cookies log in parchment paper, then roll it on a flat work surface to create a uniformly thick and evenly rounded log.
As the dough log may slightly flatten on one side when placed on the refrigerator shelf, an alternative method is to stand the log upright in a tall glass. This technique helps maintain the round shape of the biscuits.
6. Take the cookie dough out of the refrigerator and let it sit at room temperature for 10 to 15 minutes (this prevents it from crumbling when sliced). Using a sharp knife, gently slice the log into ¼ to ½ inch thick slices.
Place on the parchment lined baking sheet about 1 and ½ inches apart. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until done. Cookies will expand slightly and be dry and firm to the touch.
When are they done?
It's easy to say when the vanilla shortbreads or pinwheel cookies are done baking because their bottoms will turn golden brown.
Due to their dark cocoa color, judging the doneness of these chocolate shortbread cookies can be tricky. Here are a few tips to help you determine if they are ready -
- They will expand slightly as they bake.
- Look for a slight change in color on the bottom.
- The tops look dry with a matte finish.
- Gently touch a cookie - It should feel firm; if there's a dent or it feels soft, then bake them for a few more minutes.
How to store?
There are several ways to store before and after baking the chocolate shortbread cookies.
- Baked cookies - Store cooled cookies in an airtight container or zip lock bag at room temperature for up to a week or freeze them in an airtight container for up to two months.
- Dough - Similar to Christmas icebox cookies, the rolled log can be refrigerated for up to 2 days. Alternatively, wrap the log in parchment paper, place it in a large gallon-size zip-lock bag, and freeze it for up to a month. To thaw, transfer it to the fridge overnight.
Like most eggless Christmas cookies, this chocolate shortbread cookies is a great recipe to make during Holidays, since the dough and baked cookies can be made ahead and frozen.
To freeze the cookie dough:
- Make dough and roll into a log as per instructions.
- Tightly wrap the log in plastic wrap, and label with the name and date.
- Freeze for up to 3 months.
- To thaw, transfer it to the refrigerator the day before, you intend to bake the cookies.
- Once the dough has thawed enough for you to cut with a knife, slice the cookies and bake according to the recipe’s instructions.
To freeze baked cookies
- Place chocolate shortbread cookies on a baking sheet and freeze until solid. This way they won’t stick to each other in the freezer.
- Then, layer in a zipper bag and label the bag, if desired.
- Freeze up to 3 months.
- Thaw the cookies for a few hours at room temperature.
Customize the recipe
So now that you know how to make this base chocolate shortbread cookies, you can now customize your next batch however you like. Here are a few ideas:
- Use other extracts like almond, orange or peppermint extract instead of vanilla.
- Use fresh orange zest instead of vanilla extract.
- Like the Halloween slkull cookies, sandwich two cookies with a Nutella, ganache or melted chocolate.
- Like the chocolate coconut macaroons, dip one half into melted dark or white chocolate and top with sprinkles, chopped almonds or crushed peppermint candy.
- Drizzle melted white or dark chocolate on top.
- Mix in ground cinnamon or ginger.
- Sprinkle coarse sea salt on top of the sliced dough before baking.
- Roll the dough between parchment paper, chill and cut into desired shapes.
Make into cut outs
This chocolate shortbread cookies recipe works great for cut outs, as in Halloween tree cookies. Once you have made the dough, roll it between two sheets of parchment paper to about ¼ inch thickness. Refrigerate the rolled dough along with parchment until very firm. Cut into your favorite shapes and bake. It is important to note that the baking time will depend on the shapes and sizes.
- Like for date balls, I recommend using Dutch-process cocoa powder for a darker color and pleasant chocolate flavor.
- Confectioners or powdered sugar ensures a melt-in-your-mouth texture.
- Dough is too crumbly - Try forming the dough into a smooth ball using your hands. The heat of your hands will help soften the dough further and make it come together. Also, make sure that the butter is at room temperature.
- Dough breaks when slicing - Leave the log at room temperature for 10 to 15 minutes before slicing.
- They aren't crunchy - The chocolate shortbread cookies may have been removed before they were fully done, or the oven might have been too hot, resulting in the top browning before proper cooking.
Chocolate Shortbread Cookies
- Add flour, cocoa powder and salt into a small bowl and whisk to combine.
- Add butter into another larger bowl, beat with a hand held electric beater for 1 minute. Add confectioners sugar and vanilla extract and continue beating until creamy, addional one minute.
- Add combined flour mixture and continue beating on low speed, until it looks crumbly. Make sure not to over mix.
- Transfer dough onto a work surface and gently knead to form a smooth ball. The dough should be firm, smooth and not sticky, but not crumbly or break apart when shaping. Pro tip: If your dough appears too dry, add a teaspoon of milk until it holds together. Conversely, if the dough seems too wet, gently mix in a small amount of additional flour or cocoa powder.
- Transfer dough onto a parchment paper and roll with the help of parchment to make a uniform log of 7 to 8 inches long.
- Wrap log in parchment and chill in the refrigerator until firm (overnight or up to 2 days).
- Pre heat oven to 340°F or 170°C. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Remove cookie dough from refrigerator, leave at room temperature for 10 to 15 minutes. This makes it not crumble when sliced.
- Using a sharp knife, gently slice log into ¼ thick slices and place on the parchment lined baking sheet about 1 and ½ inches apart.
- Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until done. Cookies will expand slightly, be dry and firm to the touch.
- Place baking sheet on a wire rack and cool completely.
Nutritional information, based on third-party calculations, should be seen as estimates, not guarantees, as various factors like product types, brands, processing methods, and more can alter the nutritional content in recipes.
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