Chocolate dipped shortbread a versatile cookie
Vail, CO, Colorado
Editor’s note: Living in the Colorado high country is pure joy. Baking in it isn’t. High altitude makes cookies spread in the pan, cakes fall, and few baked goods turn out as they do at sea level. This Life is Sweet column presents recipes and tips to make baking in the mountains successful.
Though I knew her only briefly, I’ve thought of this friend several times a year for the last decade. She was generous enough to share this recipe for dipped chocolate chip shortbread with me and I’m grateful to her every time I make it.
And, I make it fairly often. Even though I’ve prepared hundreds of different cookies and tried so many cookie recipes that I can’t remember them all, this is one I come back to again and again. It is a lovely little thing ” buttery, tender, and rich with chocolate and nuts. It is equally at home in a lunch box, with berries or sorbet for dessert, or at high tea. And, it is very easy to make.
The key to its success is to use a light hand when making the dough. If it is overworked, it will lose its tender, appealing texture.
The recipe can be doubled and the cookies freeze well if wrapped air tight.
1/2 cup of butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup of confectioners’ sugar
3/4 teaspoon of vanilla
1 cup of flour (to measure flour: stir the flour to loosen and aerate it, gently spoon flour into measuring cup and level the top)
1 cup of mini chocolate chips, divided
1 tablespoon of vegetable shortening (liquid or solid) or butter, or a combination (I use butter and canola oil)
1/3 cup of pecans, toasted and chopped fine
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, with a rack in the center position. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil. Do NOT grease the pan or the cookies may spread too much ( a common problem at high altitude).
Using a wooden spoon or an electric mixer on low speed, mix the softened butter, vanilla, and confectioners’ sugar only until the butter is creamed and no sugar is visible.
Gently stir in the flour. Stop stirring as soon as the flour is almost all absorbed. Then, add a half cup of the mini chocolate chips and gently fold or knead them into the batter. As you do this, the rest of the flour will be combined with the butter mixture.
Pull off portions of the batter and roll them into balls that are about one to one and a fourth inches in diameter. In your hands or on a countertop, roll the balls into cylinders that are about two inches in length. Place each cylinder on the lined cookie sheet, spacing them about one inch apart. To assure even baking, make sure all the cookies are the same width and length.
Place the cookies, on the cookie sheet, in the freezer and freeze them for about ten minutes. This will help prevent spreading when they are baked.
Bake until the cookies are set and the bottoms have colored to a light gold. This took about 15 minutes in my oven, but the time may vary depending upon the size of the cookies, the amount of time in the freezer, and your oven.
Place the cookie sheet on a cooling rack. When the cookies have cooled about 4 to 5 minutes, carefully remove them from the baking pan and place them directly on the cooling rack to cool completely. Save the pan and the pan liner, you can use them again when you dip the cookies in their glaze.
When the cookies are entirely cool, make the glaze: Place the remaining half cup of chocolate chips and the butter and/or vegetable oil in a one-cup glass measuring cup or a small bowl (if you will melt them in the microwave) or a small heavy-bottomed pan (if you will melt them on the stove top). Using a low temperature (I microwave for two minutes on level 4), and stirring often, melt the chips and butter/oil and combine them completely. If the combination is too thick to allow easy dipping of the cookies, stir in a tiny bit more oil.
Place the chopped, toasted pecans in a small dish. Brush the crumbs off each cookie and dip the top into the chocolate, covering about half the cookie’s surface. Roll the warm chocolate in the pecans and place the cookie on the parchment paper or aluminum foil.
Let the chocolate set. To speed up this process, place the cookies, on the cookie sheet, in the refrigerator until the chocolate is firm.
Vera Dawson lives in Summit County, where she bakes almost every day. Her recipes have been tested in her home kitchen and, whenever necessary, altered until they work at our altitude. Contact Dawson with comments about this column and/or baking questions at email@example.com.