I had a craving the other night. It was a very specific craving that, not surprisingly, involved chocolate and I wanted it in cookie form. I knew that I wanted it to be buttery with a texture that crumbles in your mouth as sand would except not as repulsive as the idea of eating sand. Not chewy or crispy nor too complex rather it must be soft and sweet and as fragile as the Christmas ornaments that my 1 1/2 year keeps on shattering.
My craving ceased as I bit into a *store bought* (?!?!! – sometimes I like it when someone else does the baking for me). The texture was perfect and the mini chocolate chips studded throughout provided a depth and rich sweetness that brought me much delight. The peppermint ice cream that I used to wash down the cookie also added to my enjoyment.
It was a shortbread cookie. Traditionally shortbread is made from one part sugar, two parts butter and three parts flour. Classically the flour was oatmeal flour but today it is more common to use white flour. Some people go real crazy and throw in ground rice or cornflour to give the cookie an interesting texture.
The high amount of fat (in this case, butter) gives these cookies their soft and crumbly texture. The butter generously coats the flour limiting gluten formation. The resulting cookie is unbelievably tender and simply melts in your mouth.
The next day the craving returned. My husband kindly sought out the mini chocolate chips from the grocery store while I began to mix.
The recipe I used is an adaptation from Ina Garten. She doesn’t shy away from butter and I LOVE her for that. With this recipe’s high amount of butter and lack of eggs I knew that it would provide the texture I was craving. I wasn’t disappointed.
This dough can be made in advance then rolled into a log. Wrap in wax paper or parchment paper then slice and bake when the craving strikes.
Chocolate Chip Shortbread
adapted from Ina Garten
3/4 pound butter, softened
1 cup sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 1/2 cups flour
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
12 ounces mini chocolate chips
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
In the bowl of an electric mixer with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and 1 cup of sugar until they are just combined. Add the vanilla. In a medium bowl, sift together, with a whisk, flour and salt; then add them to the butter-and-sugar mixture. Mix on low speed until the dough starts to come together. Add the chocolate chips until just mixed in. Roll into a log about 2 inches in diameter. Cover in wax paper or parchment. Chill until firm.
Carefully slice the log into 1/4″ cookies. Place the cookies on an sheet pan covered with parchment. Bake for 11-13 minutes, until the edges begin to brown. Allow to cool to room temperature.
Note: The edges of the shortbread are ever so slightly sharper if you chill the cookies before baking them.
Stay tuned for a slighty savory application of this same recipe. In the meantime start softening some butter and get mixing.
Also, these cookies make for a great addition to your holiday cookie plates. They travel well and pack nicely as a little gift.