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Author Notes: These shortbread cookies are a mash-up of some of my favorite cookies. I turned to Martha Stewart’s chewy chocolate-gingerbread cookies and Dorie Greenspan’s world peace cookies for flavor, and my cinnamon and rye shortbread on this site for texture. After tinkering with the types and quantities of sugars, flour, and cocoa, I got the flavor and texture combination I wanted. They’re salty-sweet, intensely chocolatey, gingery, and buttery, with a sandy crumb that’s reminiscent of Scottish shortbread. Once the dough is made, they couldn’t be easier to assemble. No chilling, no rolling and cutting, no crumbly dough to slice into rounds. All you have to do is press the dough into a quarter sheet pan, score the bars, and off you go. This recipe makes a lot of cookies, which is a good thing because they keep well for several weeks, if not longer. I've taken to having one with my morning coffee -- a treat that makes even a cold, gray day a little brighter. —EmilyC
Makes 40 cookies
- 2 1/3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa (I prefer Dutch-process for its more chocolatety flavor, but regular cocoa works, too)
- 2 teaspoons ground ginger
- 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
- 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste or extract
- 1/2 cup finely chopped crystallized ginger (about 1/4-inch pieces)
- 1/2 cup finely chopped dark chocolate (about 1/4-inch pieces), or an equal amount of mini chocolate chips
- 2 tablespoons turbinado sugar
- Heat oven to 350° F. Butter the bottom and sides of a quarter sheet pan (or 9-inch by 13-inch pan).
- Whisk together the flour, cocoa, ginger, and salt in a medium bowl. Set aside.
- Using a hand mixer and a large bowl or a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, confectioners’ sugar, and dark brown sugar on medium speed until smooth and creamy, about 2 minutes, stopping once or twice to scrape down the sides of your bowl with a rubber spatula. Add the vanilla and beat for a few more seconds. Add the dry ingredients and mix on low speed until the flour has disappeared and the dough is cohesive, about 1 minute; for best texture, don’t overmix. Stop the mixer, add the chopped ginger and chocolate, and mix a few more seconds to incorporate.
- Turn the dough out into the prepared pan. Using your hands, or a flat-bottomed glass or measuring cup, press the dough to form an even layer.
- Score the dough lightly with a knife, marking 4 rows by 5 rows to form 20 squares, and then score each square on the diagonal (or choose another shape). Dock each triangle once with a fork to prevent air bubbles from forming. Sprinkle turbinado sugar generously and evenly over the dough.
- Bake for about 30 to 36 minutes, until shortbread is lightly browned all over. The dough’s appearance will change from wet/glossy to dry/matte when it’s done.
- Remove pan from oven and transfer to a cooling rack. While the shortbread is still hot, use a knife to fully cut the shortbread along the lines you scored prior to baking. (Don’t wait on this step – cutting the shortbread once it’s cooled is messier/crumblier.) Allow shortbread to cool completely in the pan. Once cool, the shortbread bars will break apart very easily. Store in an airtight container for at least two weeks.