Chocolate chip shortbread cookies

Making and tasting these shortbread cookies reminded me that classics, and simple things, are often the best.  Sometimes, I could use a little reminder like that.  If I didn't fully appreciate the goodness of the simple shortbread cookie before, I am fully aware now.
I didn't make these shortbread cookies because I was craving it.  It came about because I was putting together a little care package for a friend and thinking of treats with a good shelf-life that would be conducive to shipping. With all the snow storms coming and going, I didn't know how long my package would be in transit.  Shortbread seemed to pop up as a universal answer.

This is very simply: butter, confectioners' sugar, flour, vanilla extract, and miniature chocolate chips. The result is a shortbread with a signature sandy and crumbly texture.  But while it's crisp on the outside, these cookies are soft on the inside.  The confectioners' sugar somehow lends a melt-in-your-mouth kind of tender texture (the magic of cornstarch) that leaves you wanting a few more bites.  That's the impact it had on us.
This is Dorie Greenspan's espresso-chocolate shortbread recipe, minus the espresso.  It made me think about what you can add to, and the spins you can take with the classic shortbread.  But ironically enough - as I was tasting these cookies, I almost wish I'd made plain ones.  The plain base is that good (and that's saying a lot because you know how much I love chocolate).


These chocolate chip shortbread cookies are crumbly, flaky, tender, and soft all in one.  I love that they're not greasy.  

I think this is the first time I made shortbread cookies with confectioners' sugar and I'm really glad I got this chance to try because it was very telling.  I think (correct me if I'm wrong) that using confectioners' sugar - rather than granulated sugar - makes for a more tender, softer cookie as opposed to a crunchier one. This helps explain why we see chocolate chip cookies recipes calling for cornstarch (what's also in confectioners' sugar) to create a more tender crumb.  With confectioners' sugar, the cookies also spread and brown a little less so expect them to bake up pale, with just slightly golden edges. These cookies are lightly sweet, not overly so even with the little bites of semisweet chocolate chips embedded inside.

I made a half batch of these cookies, with one stick of butter (I thought I'd get a little "fancy" and used Plugra butter for these).  My intention was to send most of it to my friend (I had other things I was sending), with a few odds and ends left for ourselves to nibble on.  In retrospect, the half batch was probably a mistake.  I'm no authority on shortbread but I was really pleasantly surprised by these.  My husband, who generally prefers soft & chewy cookies, loved these.  I found myself wishing I'd made a full batch.  For some reason, whenever I'm making butter or sugar type cookies, I envision piles of baked cookies but usually end up with far less.  And I keep forgetting that.
I do want to note that the original recipe offers a neat trick of shaping and rolling the dough in a zip-lock bag that I found both intriguing and intimidating at the same time.  For my small batch, I did things the old-fashioned way and simply rolled the dough out.  The soft dough makes that easy to do, particularly if you use some parchment or plastic wrap to help you along.  While I would have liked to cut out some fun shapes, the mini chocolate chips in these make it a little more of a challenge to do so. 

Rolling dough is (clearly) not my forte.  I cut simple squares - not too small, about 2 1/2 inches - since I thought that best for shipping.  For everyday snacking at home, I think I would prefer small rectangle bars of these.


Recipe:

Chocolate Chip Shortbread Cookies
Adapted from Dorie Greenspan's espresso-chocolate shortbread recipe, via Smitten Kitchen

- Makes approximately 2 1/2 to 3 dozen cookies cut into 1 1/2 inch squares (so yield depends on the size) -

2 sticks (8 oz.) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup confectioners' sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup miniature chocolate chips (or 4 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped)

In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter and confectioners' sugar on medium speed for about 3 minutes.  Beat in vanilla and salt. On low-speed, add flour, mixing until just combined.  Do not overmix.  Gently stir in the chocolate chips by hand using a rubber spatula.

Scrape dough out onto a work surface and roll it into a rectangle shape, about 1/4 inch thick (I roll the dough between a sheet of parchment on the bottom and plastic wrap on top).  Transfer the dough (I place it on a baking sheet), covered with plastic wrap, to chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours (or up to 2 days).  

Preheat oven to 325 degrees, with racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven.  Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or silicon mats.  Cut dough into 1 1/2 inch squares (or another size and shape you prefer) and transfer to baking sheets.  Bake for 18-20 minutes, rotating the baking sheets midway through the baking time.  The shortbreads will still look pale when done, with just slightly golden edges.  Let cool completely before serving.  




36 comments:

  1. Shortbread cookies are a favourite in our house. These look fantastic loaded with chocolate chips, Monica.

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    1. I hear so many people say shortbread is their favorite and I can totally get why! You have good taste.

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  2. Do you know I have never made shortbread cookies before? Seriously I haven't but I am definitely going to try!

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    1. Gosh, there are so many things I've never made/ate! I've made shortbread/sable/butter cookies but it's always some variation and I've still yet to make a plain batch of shortbread (no chocolate chips, etc.) either!

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  3. Shortbread cookies are really one of my favorites - the way they are so buttery and melt-in-your mouth! I love that you added the mini chocolate chips - that's such a great idea! And you're right - sometimes I get so caught up in fancy things that I tend to overlook some of the classics!

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    1. Yes - that melt-in-your-mouthness almost surprised me. I'm used to using granulated sugar and these were special. I love when simple, basic things turn out so good and it's a little reminder not to forgot those things. : )

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  4. Shortbread cookies are fabulous! So simple, yet so good. Love the addition of chocolate chips.

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    1. Thank you, Christin. I'm totally with you. Simple and good is what I'm always after.

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  5. Lovely Monica! These are a classic. They look gorgeous and such a lovely package to receive in the post. :-)

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    1. Thank you, Jo! They were fun to make. : )

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  6. Oh my goodness these look so good, I love shortbread cookies.

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    1. Appreciate it! Take this as a little reminder to make some shortbread soon. : )

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  7. I love a good shortbread cookie, especially if I can enjoy it along with my daily cup of coffee. These look and sound delicious, my friend!

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    1. It does make a nice afternoon treat with coffee or tea, I agree!

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  8. These are adorable Monica! Shortbread cookies are fantastic - I love the buttery and melt in your mouth texture :) Adding chocolate chips to these classic cookies is such a nice touch too - anyone would be super excited to receive these cookies in the mail :)

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    1. So many yummy things to eat, aren't there, Kelly! Good thing, too. : ) I'm just happy my package actually arrived them as scheduled. We're having so many snow storms...snowing right now in fact...

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  9. How original! I love these, they look almost transparent! :) ela

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    1. You know...that transparent look surprised me too! : ) I'm totally thinking toasted almonds or other nuts instead of chocolate chips...

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  10. Simple things really are the best. I have never used confectioner's sugar in cookies but I do remeber my mother used to add it in the buttery cookies and also the one she made with custard powder. Bet they are very tasty!

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    1. When it comes down to it, I bet most of us have favorite foods and desserts that are fairly simple. I have used confectioners' sugar in a couple of other kinds of cookies (cat's tongues and "cigarette" tuiles) - it's interesting because in those cases the confectioners' sugar makes for a dryer, crustier result. I wish I understood all the nuances/science behind it all.

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  11. I don't think to make shortbread either, but when I have it, I love them. My grandmother loves shortbread cookies so I'll have to remember this. I like that they're soft on the inside too! Looks delicious, and I'm sure your friend loved them.

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    1. Thanks, Tiffany. It's definitely one of those classics that you take a bite of and remember why it's a classic. Your grandmother would like these, I think!

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  12. Sometimes simple is definitely the way to go. I've really grown to appreciate shortbread this year...it's rich buttery flavor is just the best!

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    1. I hear you. Simple with big reward is awesome.

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  13. I am craving these shortbread cookies so much right now, they look incredible!

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    1. We can never have too many cookies! ; )

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  14. I love shortbread cookies and what a fun twist on them! I hate rolling out dough, too, but it would be worth it for these bad boys ;)

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    1. Thanks! Luckily, shortbread like this is so buttery that it really isn't hard to roll, particularly if you've got parchment, plastic wrap, etc. under the rolling pin. : )

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  15. I love shortbread cookies. I, too, would also prefer the plain ones to better enjoy their buttery goodness. But that doesn't mean I'll say no to the ones with chocolate chips :)

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    1. And that's coming from 2 chocoholics! That says a lot, I think. ; )

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  16. I rarely make shortbread, but I really should make it more because my husband loves it. It's so buttery and delicious and yours looks perfect! Mmm, I'm craving one now with a cup of tea :)

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    1. Same here - rarely make it and hardly ever a 'pure' shortbread. Need to do that one day, with no frills at all. Really good to just savor one on an afternoon...

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  17. I have to try using confectioners sugar in cookies. You made it sound like a wonderful idea, and now I'm craving these so so so badly! ;--) Seriously, they look terrific, and super lovely with all those chocolate chips.
    Pinning! <3

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    1. It does do a little something different to cookie recipes. Thanks for the sweet words, Consuelo.

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  18. chocolate chip shortbread is a perfect example of how simple things are awesome. buttery cookie, chocolate bits...heaven. and so easy! we all forget from time to time that things don't have to be "exciting" or "difficult" to be delicious. excellent reminder.

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    1. That's exactly what it reminded me off - simple, simple and really good.

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