Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Chocolate Kahlua Shortbread

Chocolate Kahlua ShortbreadThe first step in making shortbread, and many baked goods for that matter, is creaming the butter and sugar. I thought it was funny when someone next to me in the kitchen at Le Cordon Bleu asked me where the cream was when she heard that we had to "cream the butter and sugar" for the tuiles we were making that day. We all have to start somewhere: some watch a master Michelin-starred chef in a famous cooking school, some hold onto their grandmother's apron stirring batter alongside, and some watch endless hours of the Food Network and are forever scarred by the perfectionism of Martha.

Fat, flour and sugar. That's shortbread. Mixing these ingredients properly yields a cookie that is slightly crisp, tender, crumbly and melts in your mouth. Beyond these three ingredients, the variations are endless. Some like traditional, plain shortbread. Others like to jazz it up with decorations and flavors. Some like it baked pale, golden or browned. Others roll the dough and cut it into myriad holiday shapes while some use a time-stained shortbread pan.

To me, shortbread means Christmas. A year doesn't go by where I don't make one (or twelve) dozen of this simple cookie. I love how it crumbles in my mouth, the layers shattering and scattering its sweetness. A little taste of chocolate, a hint of Kahlua (maybe I should add more in next year's batch). Another cookie laden with almonds and orange. Another flaked with coconut. It's hard to stop at one. And why should I? It's Christmas. I can be perfect in the New Year!


Makes about 30 cookies

8 ounces (1/2 pound or 1 cup or 2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
½ cup sugar
2 cups flour
pinch salt

4 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
1 tablespoon Kahlua

Preheat the oven to 300°F. [Use a low temperature.]

Working with a stand mixer, beat the butter [not margarine!] and sugar until smooth and creamy. [You can't overmix the butter and sugar.] Sift together the flour and salt onto a sheet of parchment paper. [Sifting ensures there aren't any lumps in the flour. Using parchment paper makes it easier to transfer the flour mixture to the bowl.] Add just enough flour to combine so the dough comes together. [I use it all. If the dough seems dry, work in some room temperature butter until the mixture is soft enough to roll. Don't overmix at this point. You want the butter to coat the flour gently.]

Stir in chocolate chunks and Kahlua. [Or leave out to make traditional shortbread. Or use one of the variations listed below.]

Place dough on a lightly floured work surface. Knead a couple of times to smooth the edges.

Roll the dough between sheets of wax paper to ⅜-inch thickness and cut into desired shapes. Return to refrigerator to chill 20 minutes. [I don't always do this, but it's recommended.]

Bake for 20-30 minutes, until pale golden at edges.

Tip: You can roll the dough, cut it ahead of time and freeze on baking sheets. Transfer to a freezer bag and store for up to 1 month. Bake from frozen.

Variations instead of Chocolate and Kahlua:

Orange and Grand Marnier:
• 1 heaping tablespoon candied orange peel, finely chopped
• zest of 1 orange, grated
• 1 tablespoon Grand Marnier

• 1 tablespoon finely ground espresso coffee
• Dip one end of cookie into melted chocolate

Hazelnut or Almond Orange:
• 1½ cups hazelnuts (skins removed) or almonds, toasted and processed until fine
• 1½ teaspoons finely grated orange zest

• 4 cups sweetened flaked coconut

Other Shortbread Spottings:
• Luna CafĂ©: Cranberry, Pistachio & Candied Ginger Shortbread
• Amanda's Cookin': Dorie's Sables
• The Life and Loves of Grumpy's Honeybunch: Peppermint Meltaways
• Eat Yet? alfajores dulce de leche

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    Irene said...

    Love this post! Wonderful cookies and wonderful sentiments. You had me at Kahlua! Happy holidays to you and your family.

    Monica H said...

    They're so pretty and simple. Shortbread is esential at Christmastime.

    Amanda said...

    You had me at "Chocolate Kahlua" :)

    Inspired by eRecipeCards said...

    this is a keeper!

    vanillasugarblog said...

    I love what you've done. Shortbread is so fun to play with and add things too.

    Welcome to our crazy blessed life said...

    This makes me want to dump my diet right now and go bake! What a fun post! :)

    Stephanie said...

    Love shortbread cookies and I know I will adore these with kahlua.

    Lori said...


    Lo said...

    Yes, I did come over here because I saw my two favorite things in the title -- chocolate and Kahlua. Now that I see you've used dark chocolate, I'm even more impressed.

    Shortbread -- how I love thee!

    chow and chatter said...

    oh this looks great love shortbread loved the addition of the choclate

    Heather said...

    What lovely cookies and so many variations you gave us too. Thank you, thank you. Will try.

    Food Fascination said...

    Perfect timing with this recipe. I am going to make the Chocolate Khalua Shortbread tomorrow!

    Inspired by eRecipeCards said...

    Greetings... I am the last person in the world who would ever criticise... BUT

    Don't you love when comments start like that.

    I just made your recipe, and it was easy to catch, but your butter measurements are incorrect... actually, there are two measurements, one is correct and one is not... it reads 8 ounces (1/4 cup). 8 ounces was correct (2 sticks of butter)...1/4 cup is only 1 stick.

    I made this recipe, altered just a bit. Mine came out dark (if you can figure out why, I would love to know. I like you color better), kind of a coffe with a bit too much cream look. So, I dusted with powdered sugar and added just a bit of orange zest.

    They taste GREAT!!!

    Karine said...

    Your shortbread sounds amazing! Thanks for sharing :)

    Jeff said...

    Mmmm..I might still be buzzing from the rum cake somebody brought into work and craving more booze inspired dessert but I would kill for a couple of these.

    Awesome job!

    Erika from The Pastry Chef At Home said...

    Hazelnut and Orange sounds like a lovely flavor combination for shortbread.

    ps: Martha Stewart has forever intimidated me with her perfect everything. I saw her once walking down the street in NYC and I felt a bit terrified!

    Inspired by eRecipeCards said...

    Hi again Shari... thanks for those email exchanges yesterday. I did make these cookies, visually not as appealing as yours, but they tasted GREAT.

    Come tale a look, I posted photos today, and will do a posting on the cookies later this week

    Anonymous said...

    Kahlua shortbread! I love it.

    Katie said...

    These sound delicious. Cute too!

    lisa is cooking said...

    Too funny about the cream. The kahlua sounds great in these!

    Kitchen Butterfly said...

    Yummy.....Looks perfect for the season. Love the choccie chips poking out from underneath the shortbread cover! How about sending me a box?

    Cristina said...

    You are doing a great job, with your classes and this blog. I started mine yesterday!!! How difficult to know which recipe to choose...easy, difficult....!
    We, bloggers, we work a LOT;;
    Congrats !!!

    Julie said...

    Sounds like perfection to me. Bookmarked!

    S said...

    so would it be utterly wrong to have this with some kahlua on the side? :) they look delish, shari. i wanted to wish you a happy new year and happy hols. here's to 2010. best wishes, shayma

    angela@spinachtiger said...

    I miss your posts. I hope to see you coming back really soon. You always do such a wonderful post and picture. I enjoy it.

    Merry Christmas. Thanks so much for the opportunity to cook with you and for introducing me to Glennis Kayte and Melissa. They remain my friends and they have added much to my life.

    Merry Christmas to you and your family.

    Rebecca Varidel said...

    Hi Shari and Merry Christmas!

    I adore shortbread but its really not something that I do (we do) in Australia very much at Christmas - these sound divine! Must give them a try. Might be a New Year's treat for me instead ... @frombecca

    nora@ffr said...

    very interesting!!! :)
    happy holidays!! :)hope you had a wonderful christmas! :)

    katie said...

    Creaming is such an important step. It wasn't until I was making a wedding cake that I trully understood what creaming was -- that the butter would change color, become pale, make me feel like all fuzzy inside.