These rich, buttery, crumbly chocolate shortbread cookies are the best of the best. I pack them with rich cocoa powder and chunks of bitter chocolate, and use 100% powdered sugar for the perfect melt-in-your mouth texture. They have crisp edges, a delicate crunch, and a massive chocolate flavor.
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I set out to create a recipe for chocolate shortbread that was big on chocolate flavor, without losing the thick buttery crumbles of my favorite shortbread cookies. I wanted rich cocoa flavor, with chunks of dark chocolate to interrupt the perfectly sandy texture, and a glistening top of crunchy sugar.
After several iterations of cookies that were too sweet, too chewy, and just generally too boring, I landed on this final version of a chocolate shortbread cookie. And I’d say, it’s pretty close to perfect!
Read on to learn about the ingredients and techniques that make these cookies so good!
why these are the best chocolate shortbread cookies:
All powdered sugar: Using 100% powdered sugar as the sweetener is key to giving a melt-in-your mouth texture. It keep these cookies light, crisp and delicate.
Salted butter: I love the way salted butter magnifies the flavor of the chocolate. Because shortbread dough doesn’t have much water for salt to dissolve in, butter is the best way to disperse salt throughout the cookie. I also add fine salt to the dough to add a tiny pop of salt that is just so delicious with the sweet, crumbly cookie.
Dutch-process cocoa powder: The type of cocoa powder you use in these cookies is really important. Dutch-process (alkalized) cocoa powder has a darker color and a rich, mellow chocolate flavor. It’s the main source of chocolate in these cookies, so make sure to use the best quality you can get your hands on. I am completely obsessed with Cacao Barry Extra-Brute Cocoa Powder. It’s pricey, but using good cocoa powder will change your life!
Dark chocolate chunks: This is my favorite part of these chocolate shortbread cookies. The contrast of buttery crisp cookie with chunks of rich, smooth chocolate is just so good. Make sure to chop the chocolate somewhat small so that the dough is easier to cut with a cookie cutter.
Egg yolk: Classic shortbread cookies are just butter, sugar and flour. Modern variations can throw an egg yolk into the mix, though. The yolk binds the dough so it’s less crumbly and easier to work with-- this is extra helpful with chocolate shortbread. The yolk also gives the finished cookies crisp edges, a fine crumb, and a richer flavor.
Sanding sugar coating: Good sanding sugar is the perfect diameter for coating these cookies. It’s slightly smaller than turbinado sugar and slightly larger than granulated sugar, leaving the cookies with a crunch and glisten that will keep you coming back for more!
Note: It’s kind of hard to track down good sanding sugar– a lot of vendors on Amazon seem to actually be selling straight granulated sugar. I found a great product on Nuts.com!
Perfect circle shape: I learned this tip from Dorie Greenspan. We roll out the dough and use a 2-inch round cookie cutter to cut out dough rounds. Then we bake them in a muffin tin so the cookies come out perfectly round, perfectly stackable, and perfectly shareable.
what you need for chocolate shortbread cookies:
- dutch-process cocoa powder
- dark chocolate
- powdered sugar
- sanding sugar
- salted butter
how to make chocolate shortbread:
- Whisk together dry ingredients.
- In a stand mixer, mix butter until softened but not creamed or fluffy.
- Mix in powdered sugar and salt, then the egg yolk and vanilla.
- Add dry ingredients, mix until just combined.
- Roll out dough into a ¼-inch thick slab and chill until firm.
- Cut out into 2-inch circles and coat tops with sanding sugar.
- Bake dough circles in a muffin tin at 325°F for 18- 20 minutes.
- Let cool a few minutes, remove from muffin tin then cool completely for best consistency
make ahead and storage options:
I love these chocolate butter cookies because they are just so flexible. Here are a few ways you can make them ahead:
- Dough slabs (or logs): refrigerate for a few days or freeze for up to 2 months
- Cut out, unbaked cookies: refrigerate for a few days or freeze for up to 2 months (this is my favorite way to save the cookies!)
- Freeze the unbaked cut-outs on a baking sheet, then transfer to a ziplock bag when frozen.
- Baked cookies: store in an airtight container for up to 5 days or freeze for up to 2 months
more butter cookies and shortbread cookie recipes to try!
Watch our Christmas cookie web story here!Print
chocolate shortbread cookies
These chocolate shortbread cookies have crisp edges and a massive chocolate flavor. They're packed with cocoa and chunks of dark chocolate!
- Prep Time: 25 minutes
- Cook Time: 20 minutes
- Total Time: 45 minutes
- Yield: 42
- Category: Cookies
- Method: Baked
- Cuisine: American
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- ½ cup dutch-process cocoa powder
- 2 sticks (1 cup) salted butter, cool room temperature
- 1 ¼ cups powdered sugar
- ½ tsp fine salt
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 4 oz chopped dark chocolate
- sanding sugar, for coating
- Whisk together flour and cocoa powder in a bowl; set aside.
- Place butter in the bowl of a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Mix on low speed until butter is softened and broken up, about 20 seconds.
- Add powdered sugar and salt. Mix until smooth, about 1 minute, scraping down bowl as needed. Mix in yolk and vanilla extract until just combined. Add dry ingredients and slowly mix until dough just comes together. Mix in chopped chocolate.
- Scoop dough onto a piece of parchment paper. Cover with another sheet of parchment and roll out to ¼-inch thick. Transfer to a sheet pan and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, or until very firm.
- Preheat oven to 325°F.
- Fill a shallow bowl or plate with sanding sugar. Use a 2-inch cookie cutter to cut out rounds from the cookie dough slab, re-rolling scraps as needed. Return dough to the refrigerator to chill if it gets too soft. Store unbaked cookies on a parchment paper-lined sheet pan in the refrigerator.
- Dip one side of a cookie round in sanding sugar, pressing down gently to adhere, then transfer to a muffin tin sugared side up. Repeat with remaining cookies.
- Bake for 18- 20 minutes, or until cookies are just firm to the touch.
- Let cool in the muffin tin for a few minutes, then use a knife or small offset spatula to carefully loosen them from the pan. Transfer to a rack to cool completely. Repeat baking remaining cookies.
Nutritional information is only an estimate. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site is not guaranteed.
- Serving Size: 1
- Calories: 101
- Sugar: 6.5g
- Sodium: 63mg
- Fat: 5.5g
- Saturated Fat: 3.3g
- Unsaturated Fat: 1.6g
- Trans Fat: 0.2g
- Carbohydrates: 12g
- Fiber: 0.5g
- Protein: 1g
- Cholesterol: 16mg