Salted Chocolate Chunk Shortbread Cookies are among the New York Times’s most popular recipes of 2018. When it comes to recipes, people are often seeking easy and comforting, not complex and fancy.Salted Chocolate Chunk Shortbread Cookies
The beauty of Alison Roman’s salted chocolate chunk shortbread cookies recipe lies in its simplicity: just butter, sugar (brown and granulated, plus some demerara for rolling), vanilla, flour, chocolate and an egg. And, of course, perhaps the best part: flaky sea salt that makes every bite dance with flavor and warmth.
The recipe comes from Roman’s first cookbook, “Dining In” — which, if I’m to believe my own social media feeds, might just be the defining cookbook among those of us on the older edge of millennialism. Having graduated from college directly into a recession — broke, underemployed and with little to no cooking skills — we’ve long sought out recipes that feel equal parts utilitarian and indulgent, with a few basic kitchen skills learned along the way.
These cookies, even for an unskilled baker like myself, fit that bill perfectly — and aren’t as cloyingly sweet as many holiday desserts. Just learn from my altitude-baking mistakes and be sure to add a tablespoon or so of extra flour to prevent your first batch from turning into a sad, spread-out cookie puddle. — Beth Rankin
Line two rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper. Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or an electric hand mixer, beat the butter, both sugars and vanilla on medium-high till it’s super light and fluffy (3 to 5 minutes for a stand mixer; 6 to 8 for a hand mixer). Using a spatula, scrape down the sides of the bowl and, with the mixer on low, slowly add the flour, followed by the chocolate chunks, and mix just to blend. If necessary, knead the dough with your hands to make sure the flour is totally incorporated. At this point, the dough should be smooth and feel like Play-Doh with no pockets of flour.
Divide the dough in half, placing each half on a large piece of plastic wrap. Fold the plastic over so that it covers the dough to protect your hands from getting all sticky. Using your hands, form the dough into a log shape; rolling it on the counter will help you smooth it out, but don’t worry about getting it totally perfect. (Don’t be afraid to make them compact. Shortbread is supposed to be dense. That’s part of why it’s so good.) You can also do this using parchment paper, if you prefer, but plastic wrap is easier when it comes to shaping the log. Each half should form a 6-inch log, 2 to 2 1/4 inches in diameter. Chill until totally firm, about 2 hours.
Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Brush the outside of the logs with the beaten egg and roll them in the demerara sugar (this is for those really delicious, crisp edges).
Using a serrated knife, carefully slice each log into 1/2-inch-thick rounds (if you hit a chocolate chunk, slowly saw back and forth through the chocolate). If the cookies break or fall apart, just press them back together — the dough is very forgiving. Place them on the prepared baking sheets about 1 inch apart (they won’t spread much). Sprinkle with flaky salt. Bake until the edges are just beginning to brown, 12 to 15 minutes. Let cool slightly before eating them all.
Recipe yields 24 cookies. Total time bake time is 45 minutes, plus chilling.