Chocolate Chip Shortbread Cookies

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While I don’t often work in the mornings, I make a point to get up by 8am on weekdays. I have a sort of pattern that I follow nearly religiously, which goes as follows. Every weekday morning, I make a trip to my local bodega to get a coffee. I’m one of those that would love to make coffee, but has to be caffeinated to do so, lest I break the French press. I’ve gone to the same place for so long that the owner, Mr. Moon, no longer has to ask for my order; the only question is “Hot or cold?” Then I head home, turn the radio to BBC World Service News Hour (nerd alert!), and eat a bowl of granola with Icelandic yogurt, fruit, and a drizzle of maple syrup. I make granola in three-quart batches every few weeks, and go through it 1/2 cup at a time. But on the rare day that we don’t have a jar-full on top of the fridge, I make a trip to Bien Cuit for a coffee and a pastry.

Bien Cuit is a fantastic bakery on Smith Street in Boerum Hill. They make beautiful breads and pastries that change with the seasons; I am partial to the Tebirke (a flaky pastry filled with almond paste and rolled in poppyseeds) and Apple Cardamom Danish, but I’ve enjoyed nearly everything in the pastry case. And if that’s not enough to convince you to find a reason to go there right this minute, the baristas make one hell of a cappuccino. By the cashier, you’ll find a few cookie jars. They all look wonderful–and with flavors like Almond Sable and Malted Muesli, how couldn’t they be?–but the jar that always catches my eye is Diamond Chocolate Chip Shortbread. While I notice them every time I go to pay for my breakfast, I’ve never gotten one. Instead, I just dream about them while I go about my day. There are worse things to daydream about than crunchy, buttery cookies chock-full of miniature chocolate chips.

When Henry and I were invited to dinner at our friend David’s last week, I was asked to bring something simple to go with after-dinner tea. The first thing to come to mind was that jar of chocolate chip shortbread. I got to work making my own version. The result was just what he asked for: simple little cookies with the flavor of a chocolate chip cookie and a crunchy texture perfect for dunking in tea or coffee.

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These really are the simplest cookies. They start with creaming room temperature butter, dark brown sugar, and granulated sugar. We use 3 parts brown sugar to 1 part granulated to ensure the rich caramel flavor of a great chocolate chip cookie. Then, we add in a little vanilla to round out the flavor of the cookie itself. The next step is adding flour and salt in two installments, followed by folding in miniature chocolate chips. The dough will seem very crumbly, but should hold together when you pinch some together. Then we divide the dough in half and roll each half into a log, wrap it in plastic, and let chill for 45 minutes to solidify the butter and meld the flavors. When that time is up, unwrap the dough, and slice into 1/4″-thick rounds. Bake for 15-17 minutes, or until the tops are no longer doughy and the edges are starting to brown. Then make yourself a pot of coffee or tea, and dunk away!

Chocolate Chip Shortbread Cookies keep well covered at room temperature for at least a week. They are a perfect casual dessert or afternoon treat for these colder months, and I think a little bag of them would be a great holiday gift with a pound of coffee and a cute ribbon! They would also make fantastic little ice cream sandwiches. Actually, that’s a great idea. I think I’ll go have one right now…

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Chocolate Chip Shortbread Cookies
makes about six dozen

1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
6 tablespoons dark brown sugar, packed*
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons mini chocolate chips*

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together flour and salt. Set aside.

With a hand mixer in a large mixing bowl, beat butter until it is light and fluffy (about two minutes). Add dark brown and granulated sugars followed by vanilla, and beat until they are completely incorporated. With the mixer running on low, incorporate flour mixture in two installments, making sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Mix in mini chocolate chips.

Divide dough in half. Take one half and lay it on a piece of plastic wrap. Using the plastic wrap and clean hands, form the dough into a 9″ long x 1.5″ thick log. Wrap tightly in the plastic wrap. Repeat with the other half of the dough. Refrigerate wrapped dough for at least 45 minutes, or up to three days.

Preheat the oven to 325F. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper, and set aside.

Unwrap one log of dough. Using a large, sharp chef’s knife, slice the dough in 1/4″ installments and lay them on the prepared pans one inch apart. Bake for 15-17 minutes, or until the tops no longer look doughy and the edges are starting to brown. Let cool on the pans for for 10 minutes before removing to a rack to cool completely. Repeat slicing and baking with remaining dough.

These keep well in an airtight container at room temperature for at least a week.

Notes:

  1. Light brown sugar may be substituted.
  2. Regular-sized chocolate chips are not recommended.

One thought on “Chocolate Chip Shortbread Cookies

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