Just five ingredients and ten minutes.
These easy chocolate shortbread cookies are made with just butter, confectioners’ sugar, vanilla and flour. The fifth ingredient? Your favourite holiday chocolate, chopped into chunks. I used a box of Ganong chocolates, specifically targeting the caramels.
Everything but the chocolate goes into the stand mixer (or a bowl, if you don’t mind a wooden spoon and some elbow grease).
Unlike other shortbread cookie recipes, no extra time is needed to chill, roll or pipe the dough – I keep things simple in this recipe with a basic drop-cookie method of rolling balls between your palms.
To help you read between the lines, your chocolate shortbreads can be on the cooling rack in less than half an hour from now. Go!
Top your shortbread cookies.
For chocolate shortbread cookies with special morsels on top (like these!), partially bake the cookies, then add the candy only for the last few minutes of baking.
Shortbread cookies take longer to bake (about 14 minutes) than other cookies. Allowing the cookies to set first ensures that the chocolates will hold their shape and any fillings won’t run out.
Ganong partnered with me on this post. It’s such a special thing for me to collaborate with this company at Christmas time because they were a big part of my childhood Christmases.
Ganong is Canada’s oldest chocolate and candy company, family owned in New Brunswick, where I’m from.
Growing up, a box of Ganong chocolates was my go-to gift for uncles and teachers and grandparents and Secret Santa recipients and just about everyone else.
They’ve recently launched a chocolatier collection in a super-pretty robin’s egg blue box as well as a new line-up of Delecto boxes that march to the heartbeat of Canada’s favourites (hello, peanut clusters).
No cornstarch in this shortbread cookie recipe.
Many shortbread cookie recipes call for cornstarch or rice flour to replace some of the wheat flour. This reduces the amount of gluten in the cookie. Gluten is the muscle of flour, so when you reduce it, you create a more tender, crumbly crumb.
I have nothing against cornstarch, but I prefer the flavour and ease of keeping my shortbread cookies traditional — with just flour, the way grandma made them.
The trick to keeping them tender is to mix the dough only until combined once the flour is added. Resist the urge to beat the daylights out of it. The mixture will be crumbly, not a solid mass, and that’s ok!
Some final tips and tricks.
Make sure your butter is the right temperature when you start. It should be soft but not melty.
Creaming the butter thoroughly is an important step as this whips tiny air bubbles into the dough. This air will be the only leavener in the cookie.
Preheat the oven for 20 minutes or more. This means more heat will be retained within the oven walls and racks so when you open the door the temperature won’t plummet as much.
Don’t ever bake cookies on hot baking sheets. Have a stash of several so you can start each batch with a cool sheet or — if you don’t care about potentially warping them — run them under cold water between batches.
Store cookies at room temperature for 4 days or in the freezer for 3 months.
Chocolate Shortbread Cookies
- 1 cup butter room temperature
- 3/4 cup confectioners' sugar
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 9 oz/255 g 2 lightly-spooned and levelled cups all-purpose flour
- Coarsely chopped chocolates
- Preheat oven to 325ºF. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Place the butter and sugar in a stand mixer and beat until light and fluffy, scraping down mixer bowl occasionally, about 3 full minutes. Beat in vanilla extract. Incorporate flour with mixer speed on low.
- Scoop dough by a heaping tablespoonful into your palm and roll into a ball. Make a small indent with your index finger. Transfer to prepared baking sheet. Repeat with remaining dough.
- Bake for 12 minutes then remove from oven and top each cookie with a piece of chocolate. Return to oven and bake for 2-4 minutes more, until chocolate starts to melt and cookie starts to turn golden at the edges.