Wednesday, January 6, 2010

National Shortbread Day: Make them Chocolate

Today is National Shortbread Day, and, of course, it's always great to eat Chocolate Shortbread.

If you're looking to buy a good chocolate shortbread cookie, you should definitely try the Spicy Chocolate or Chocolate Espresso shortbread cookies from Emily's Biscuits & Cookies. These wonderful butter cookies have great flavor and texture, and they are nut and egg free. Emily has designed her cookies to pair with lots of foods besides milk including cheese and wine.

If you haven't discovered Rechiutti Confections, you're not reading this Blog. I love Michael's chocolates, blog and recipes. There's a recipe on the website for Chocolate Truffle Shortbread Cookies. These are absolutely fabulous. They're a bit time consuming, but it's well worth it.

Michael Rechiutti hails from Philadelphia, as do I, and he was the pastry chef at The Frog Commissary. I'm sure I must have had some of his desserts when I was in Philadelphia. We're both now in the Bay Area, and although you can get Rechiutti Chocolate at many fine chocolate shops and online, it's fun to pop into the Recchiuti Store at the Ferry Building. We include Rechiutti on our San Francisco Chocolate Tours.

Chocolate Truffle Shortbread Cookies

1 cup (5 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon (1 ½ ounces) unsweetened natural cocoa powder
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
8 tablespoons (4 ounces) unsalted butter with 82% butterfat, at room temperature
½ cup (3 ½ ounces) granulated cane sugar
¼ teaspoon pure vanilla extract, preferably Madagascar Bourbon

4 ounces 65% chocolate, roughly chopped
1/3 cup (2 ½ ounces) heavy whipping cream
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon (1 ½ ounces) powdered cane sugar
2 tablespoons (1 ounce) unsalted butter with 82% butterfat, very soft (75°F°)
1 ½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract, preferably Madagascar Bourbon

Unsweetened natural cocoa powder for finishing cookies

These shortbread rounds are sandwiched with truffle cream made the old-fashioned way: by pouring hot cream over chopped chocolate. It creates a stiff filling that can support the top cookie in the sandwich.

Helpful hints from Michael Recchiuti: Contrary to many recipes that call for creaming together butter and sugar until fluffy, this method instead beats these ingredients until they are just combined. Overmixing beats in excess air, resulting in cookies that spread too much in the oven. The dough needs to rest for at least 3 hours in the refrigerator, so you will need to plan ahead. The cookies can be baked up to 4 to 5 days in advance, however, and stored in an airtight container. Assemble the sandwiches shortly before serving and keep them in a cool place before taking them to the table.

Make the dough:

Sift the flour, cocoa powder, and salt together into a bowl. Set aside.

Put the butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on medium speed just until combined. Add the vanilla extract.

Switch the mixer to low speed and add the dry ingredients in 3 additions, pulsing the mixer to incorporate each addition before adding the next one. The dough will look dry.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Knead a few times just until it comes together. Flatten into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate until firm, at least 3 hours or up to 2 days.

Bake the cookies:
Preheat the oven to 325°F. Line the bottoms of two 12-by18-inch sheet pans with parchment paper.

Remove the dough from the refrigerator and unwrap it. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the dough 1/8 inch thick. Using a 1 ½ inch round cookie cutter, set out as many rounds as possible. Reroll the scraps only once, using less flour on the work surface to prevent toughness, and cut again. You should have 60 rounds in all. Place the rounds on the prepared pans, spacing them ½ inch apart.

Bake on the middle shelves of the oven, rotating the pans 180 degrees halfway through the baking time, until the tops are lightly cracked and hold a slight indentation when pressed with a fingertip, about 10 minutes. Let cool completely on the pans on wire racks.

Store in an airtight container at room temperature until you are ready to assemble the sandwiches.

Make the filling and assemble the cookies:
Put the chocolate in a medium bowl.

Put the cream and powdered sugar in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Cook at a simmer for 1 minute and remove from the heat.

Pour the hot cream mixture over the chocolate. Whisk the mixture by hand until the chocolate melts. Whisk in the butter, and then the vanilla extract.

Pour the truffle cream into a bowl, cover with plastic wrap so that the wrap is touching the surface, and refrigerate until the consistency of thick mayonnaise, 30 to 45 minutes.

Arrange half of the cookies, bottom side up, on a sheet pan. Put the truffle cream into a pastry bag fitted with a ¼-inch star tip and pipe a swirl of the cream onto the top of each cookie, distributing the cream evenly among them. Top each covered cookie with a second cookie, bottom side down, and press gently to adhere it to the truffle cream. Store in a cool place until serving.

Just before serving, sift a dusting of cocoa powder on the tops of the cookies. Transfer to a serving plate.


Mason Canyon said...

Now I understand why my cookies keep spreading out, I beat them too much. Thanks for the great recipe and tip.

Janet Rudolph said...

Thank Michael Recchiuti.. their chocolates are fabulous and their blog and website has great recipes! said...

Thanks for the info, Janet! Perfect day for Batter Bakery's new chocolate hazelnut shortbread -pick some up at the kiosk!