Salted Chocolate Chunk Shortbread Cookies

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Unless you live under a rock, you have probably seen these cookies-that-broke-the-Internet floating around Instagram and the web.  Does anyone still call it that?  Okay, so maybe you don’t consume the excessive amounts of food media that I do and follow every foodie/food blogger/chef on Instagram, but these are wildly popular so you may have just stumbled across them somewhere.

Cookbook genius and resident low-key comedian on Instagram (you should really follow her if you enjoy food and laughing…and if you don’t, I’m sorry for you) Alison Roman decided the world did NOT need another chocolate chip cookie recipe, so she gave us these delicious little buggers.  Buttery shortbread cookies stuffed with chocolate chunks (not chips!), rolled in Demerara sugar to form crunchy edges and topped with a sprinkle of sea salt.

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But here a problem lies: I could not get these cookies to work for me.  I tried three or four times, but each attempt produced a very frustrated Amanda and a dough that would not hold together, form a solid log, or cut into any shape that actually looked like a cookie.  Most of the time I resorted to pinching the dough together to form alien-like blobs, shrugging my shoulders and baking as-is.  Was it just me?  Am I not the decently capable baker I thought I was?

The resulting cookies were always so buttery and delicious…VERY edible even if they don’t look at all like they should and are not Instagrammable, but I too wanted to attain those picture-perfect cookies that everyone else had.

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So I turned to my culinary and lifestyle idol (and best friend, even though she doesn’t know it), Ina Garten.  I used her plain shortbread recipe and added Alison’s touches of chocolate chunks, Demerera sugar coating and sprinkle of salt.

Alison’s have a 78.2% butter-to-flour ratio while Ina’s has a 81% butter-to-flour ratio; a seemingly minuscule difference, but it was just enough to help my cookies stay together. You still have all the flavors of the original cookie, but slightly less frustration and a perfectly shaped cookie to post on your Instagram.

A couple tips:

  1.  As with any baking recipe that provides weights, you should always weigh your ingredients.  It is much more accurate and I promise it will improve the quality of your baked goods.  You can purchase a relatively inexpensive digital scale and once you get used to it, you will use it for everything.  I do!
  2. Use a high-quality chocolate (that you chop yourself) and European-style salted butter, like Plugra or Lurpak.  Trader Joe’s has an excellent French cultured butter at a reasonable price!
  3. Make sure to cream your butter and sugar together as described in the recipe-until very light and fluffy.  This will help the flour to absorb better, producing a more workable dough.
  4. Use a serrated knife to cut the dough to ensure they hold they’re shape.

These would be a perfect complement to any 4th of July extravaganzas you may be planning…maybe with a little scoop of vanilla ice cream in between?!  Or just standing in front of your refrigerator with just a big glass of milk.

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*I found a detailed post here with a some step-by-step pictures and a great idea for forming that dreaded cookie dough log.  If you want to try the original recipe (which you should just for comparison’s sake!), it’s posted all over the Internet or in Alison’s cookbook, Dining In.  Let me know what works for you!

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Salted Chocolate Chunk Shortbread Cookies

  • Author: Amanda
  • Yield: about 24 cookies
  • Category: Cookies, Chocolate

Description

Buttery shortbread cookies filled with chocolate chunks, rolled in Demerara sugar for a crunchy exterior and sprinkled with sea salt for that perfect salty-sweet balance!


Ingredients

  • 3 sticks (340 grams) salted butter (preferably Plugra or other European style), at room temperature 
  • 1/2 cup (99 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup (99 grams) lightly packed light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3-1/2 cups (420 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 6 ounces (170 grams) semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped into small chunks
  • 1 egg, thoroughly beaten until homogenous
  • Demerara sugar, for rolling 
  • Flaky sea salt, for sprinkling

Instructions

  1. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugars together on medium-high until very light and fluffy, 4 to 5 minutes.  Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl, add the vanilla extract and beat just until combined.  Add the flour all at once; on low speed, stir just until combined.  Add the chocolate chunks and beat again just to combine.  
  2. Place the demerara sugar in a large shallow bowl.  Divide the dough in half, placing each half on a sheet of wax paper or plastic wrap.  Bring the dough together with your hands, using the wax paper to form the dough into a log shape about 2 to 2-1/2 inches in diameter.  Roll the dough in the demerara sugar, pressing as much as you can.  Return the logs to the wax paper and chill until firm, about 1 hour.
  3. Preheat the oven to 350°.  Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper.
  4. Brush the outside of each log with the beaten egg, and roll again in the demerara sugar (sprinkle it on if you need to).  Slice each log into 1/2-inch-thick rounds and place them on the prepared baking sheets. The cookies won’t spread much, so you can place them close together.  Sprinkle the tops with flaky sea salt.  Bake for 16 to 18 minutes, until just set and the edges are beginning to brown. Remove from the oven and cook for 5 minutes on the baking sheets before transferring to wire racks to cool completely.

Notes

Inspiration: Shortbread Cookies on foodnetwork.com & Salted Butter and Chocolate Chunk Shortbread, Dining In by Allison Roman

As with any baking recipe that provides weights, you should always weigh your ingredients.  It is much more accurate and I promise it will improve the quality of your baked goods.  You can purchase a relatively inexpensive digital scale and once you get used to it, you will use it for everything.  I do!

Use a high-quality chocolate (that you chop yourself) and European-style salted butter, like Plugra or Lurpak.  Trader Joe’s has an excellent French cultured butter at a reasonable price!

Make sure to cream your butter and sugar together as described in the recipe-until very light and fluffy.  This will help the flour to absorb better, producing a more workable dough.

Use a serrated knife to cut the dough to ensure they hold they’re shape.

 

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