Salted Chocolate Chunk Shortbread Cookies
Recipe by Alison Roman - NYT Cooking
Yield 24 cookies
Time 45 minutes
- 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons salted butter, cold
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- ¼ cup light brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 ½ cups all purpose flour
- 6 ounces semi-sweet or bittersweet dark chocolate, chopped
- 1 large egg, beaten
- Demerara sugar, for rolling
- Flaky sea salt, for sprinkling
Line two rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper. 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). 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 beat just to blend. If necessary, give the dough a knead or two 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.
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 totally 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 two logs 2 to 2¼ inches in diameter. Chill until totally firm, about 2 hours.
Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Brush the outside of the logs with the beaten egg and roll them in the demerara sugar (this is for those really delicious, crisp edges).
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. 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. Let cool slightly before eating them all.
The recipe I highlight today differs slightly than the usual chocolate chip recipe you might find. However, I assure you it is no less special. In some ways it may be a slight enhancement to the original inspiration, but others might say otherwise. Nonetheless, it somehow brings me back to where it all began.
Never could I have foreseen what could change after visiting a friend’s house in fifth grade. At my time there, I was first introduced to the wonderful art of baking. In the beginning we started with the simple recipes like cookies, and within time, I naturally took off into other directions.
I have always wondered why I was so captivated by this new venture. It wasn’t that I hadn’t heard of it before, but after that day it seemed more intriguing to me. I remember how eager I was to try on my own at home, and when recipes came out as I had seen on the internet I was overjoyed.
I began to test all sorts of recipes that I could find. Cakes, tarts, macarons, croissants, anything I could find. Despite how hard it seemed or how many times it didn’t turn out right, I pressed on, feeling challenged than discouraged.
Looking back, I learned several lessons from all those times. Patience when waiting for hours for bread to rise. Persistence when trying a recipe again and again until it was perfect. Appreciation in giving rather than receiving. Evidently, it has also greatly sweetened the relationships I have around me.
While I recount my story, I ask you, what still stays with you today? What still continues to excite you? How have you changed since then? I believe that there are many ways and through many things a person can change. The excitement is seeing how that manifests differently for each person.