The history of shortbread goes back to at least the 12th century and originally started life as ‘biscuit bread’; biscuits that were made from left-over bread dough that was sometimes sweetened and dried out in the oven to form a hard, dry rusk. Over time the leavening was lost and exchanged for butter, making it an expensive fancy treat that was only bought for celebrations such as Christmas and Hogsmanay (Scottish New Year). There are similar ‘breads’ outside of Scotland such as Shrewsbury cakes and Goosnagh cakes.
So for today's Shortbread Holiday, here's a recipe for Chocolate Shortbread Hearts from Melissa Clark that appeared in the New York Times several years ago. You can make it today for National Shortbread Day or bookmark this recipe for Valentine's Day!
The dough is basic, and you can decorate in so many different ways! I love versatile recipes, don't you? These buttery shortbread cookies are dunked partway in melted chocolate and sprinleed with freeze-dried raspberries. I found some really good freeze-dried raspberries at Trader Joe's, and now always have them in my pantry. You can also use flaky sea salt, chopped pistachios, or coconut to top the dipped chocolate!
CHOCOLATE SHORTBREAD HEARTS
Be sure not to roll the dough thinner than 1/2 inc or the cookies might break.
Use European-style butter. It's higher in butter fat and the cream was cultured before churned. I use French butter.
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup unsweetened Dutch-processed cocoa powder
- 1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1 cup salted European-style (or cultured) butter, softened
- 2/3 cup granulated sugar
- 1 large egg yolk
- 6 ounces dark, milk or white chocolate chips, or use some of each (about 1 cup)
- 1/3 cup freeze-dried raspberries, lightly crushed
- In medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder and salt.
- In bowl of electric mixer, beat together butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in yolk, scraping the sides of the bowl as necessary. Mix in flour mixture until just combined. Form dough into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to 3 days.
- Once chilled, remove plastic wrap and sandwich dough between two sheets of parchment paper. Roll it out into a 1/2-inch-thick slab. Leaving dough between the parchment, place it on a baking sheet or large plate and refrigerate for 30 minutes (or up to 24 hours).
- Heat oven to 325 degrees, and line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.
- Pull dough from refrigerator, and remove parchment from dough. Using a 2-inch heart-shaped cutter, cut out as many hearts as possible. Transfer them to the prepared cookie sheets. Reroll the dough scraps and repeat.
- Bake cookies for 18 to 23 minutes, until puffed and set, rotating the cookie sheets halfway through. Transfer pans to wire racks to cool completely.
- In heatproof measuring cup, melt chocolate in the microwave in 20-second intervals, stirring in between.
- Dip half of each cooled cookie in melted chocolate, letting excess drip back into measuring cup. Place back on parchment-lined baking sheets, and sprinkle chocolate with crushed raspberries. Let cool until chocolate is set, then store in an airtight container.