A Chocolate Shortbread Cookie recipe that is easy to make and guarantees foolproof results thanks to all the tips I’ve shared! These chocolate shortbread cookies are deeply chocolate flavored, and are deliciously buttery, without being overly sweet.
Delicious chocolate shortbread cookies made with cocoa powder, and a simple chocolate drizzle on top. Easy to make and a crowd favorite!
This chocolate shortbread cookie is an adaptation of my classic shortbread cookie recipe. Classic shortbread cookies are meant to be buttery and crumbly, and I personally don’t like them to be too sweet. So just like my classic shortbread cookies, these chocolate shortbread cookies are also buttery, crumbly and just so addictively delicious. And packed with cocoa flavor. So this recipe is guaranteed to please chocolate fans and shortbread fans alike! 🙂
What you can expect with this recipe
- An easy to make chocolate shortbread recipe with step by step instructions.
- I also show my favorite hack to roll and shape the dough with minimal mess, and which guarantees perfect results every time.
- Shortbread cookies that are not too sweet, but still incredibly buttery (just the way shortbread cookies are meant to be!)
- Chocolate shortbread cookies that hold their shape while cooking (no spreading!).
Tips to perfect this recipe
Shortbread isn’t hard to make, but there are a few tips to follow to ensure fantastic results. These tips will give you a cookie dough that is easy to make, and easy to shape as well as hold its shape, and guarantee a gorgeous end product!
- Use room temperature butter that is soft. It’s important that the butter is soft at room temperature. In winter, this might be harder, so you can soften the butter in a different way.
- Cut the butter into cubes and put them on a plate. Then microwave an empty large glass bowl, and when warm, place this bowl upside down over the plate of butter, making sure none of the butter is touching the bowl. The heat from the bowl will help soften the butter in a few minutes.
- Caster sugar will give you the best results for these cookies. Caster sugar tastes better, and has a fine texture. So it will melt in the butter as it’s being creamed and will also provide the best taste. If you can’t find caster sugar, I will note other alternatives below.
- Make sure you use GOOD QUALITY COCOA POWDER. Since chocolate is the main flavor in these cookies, it’s crucial to use good cocoa powder. I prefer Cacao Barry or Callebaut (which is a dutched cocoa powder). Valrhona is also a good option. You can use natural cocoa powder or dutched cocoa powder in this recipe.
- Don’t over-handle / over-mix the dough. This will over-work the gluten and won’t make the cookies nice and crumbly.
- Use my gallon bag hack to roll out the dough in the bag. This will prevent additional flour from being added to the dough, and give you an even cookie slab to cut out of.
- Because the dough can be rolled out while at room temperature, it’s easier to roll, and there’s less gluten formation too.
- Freezing the dough before cutting and baking the cookies will ensure that the cookies do not spread as they bake.
Ingredients needed for this chocolate shortbread recipe
Cocoa powder – I use a dutch cocoa powder from Cacao Barry / Callebaut. I love the taste of this cocoa powder over many others that I’ve used over the years. So make sure you like the taste of the coco powder, because this will be the central flavor in your chocolate shortbread cookies.
AP flour – I use AP flour for my shortbread. You can also use cake flour, but make sure to use the same amount (by weight).
Butter – I prefer to use unsalted butter.
Caster sugar – Caster sugar is sugar that is finer than granulated sugar. So it dissolves better in the butter. If you don’t have caster sugar, you can use confectioner’s sugar instead.
Salt – Salt is magic! The right amount of salt makes the cookie go from tasting blah to badass! I personally like to add a little extra because I love sweet and salty desserts.
Melted chocolate – This step is optional. I really like adding a drizzle of chocolate on top of my chocolate shortbread. You can use whichever chocolate you like. White chocolate is a great contrast against the brown cookie. I personally LOVE adding a drizzle of melted passionfruit callets from Valrhona on top. The sweet and tangy passionfruit flavor is perfect with the chocolate.
How to make chocolate shortbread cookies
Making chocolate shortbread dough
To make the cookie dough, the first step is to cream the butter and sugar together. This step is critical, because you want the butter to be very light and fluffy, and you also want the sugar to completely dissolve in the butter. I also prefer to add the salt at this stage, so that the salt has a chance to dissolve in the butter as well.
If you live in a warmer climate, or if your butter is really soft, you can cream the butter and sugar together from the beginning.
But if you live in a colder climate like I do, and your butter isn’t as soft, then cream the butter by itself first, so that it has a chance to soften.
Creaming the butter and sugar will take time! So please be patient until the butter is light and fluffy AND the sugar is also mostly dissolved. You do not want too many sugar crystals in the dough, as this will give the cookies a spotted look after baking.
The next step is to add flour and cocoa powder. Before you add the dry ingredients, make sure the flour and cocoa powder are sifted well to remove any lumps. Sifted dry ingredients are easier to incorporate as well.
How to prevent a tough shorbread cookie
You can incorporate the flour either by hand or with your stand mixer.
By hand – Make sure to fold in the dry ingredients in two additions. This is to prevent over-working the dough.
By stand mixer – Add the dry ingredients in two additions, while the mixer is on the lowest speed. Make sure to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl so that the dry ingredients are mixing uniformly through the dough.
The dough for the chocolate shortbread cookies will be soft and a little sticky too, so you have to make sure to handle the dough carefully.
Once the flour is incorporated, I transfer the dough onto a large piece of parchment paper and fold the dough over itself a few times to make sure the dough is uniformly mixed (no flour streaks or butter streaks). This also prevents the flour from being overworked, which could make the cookies tough.
Wrap the dough and let it rest for about 15 – 20 minutes at room temperature. This resting period allows all the moisture in the dough to distribute more evenly.
Rolling out the dough
Since the dough is at room temperature, it’ll be very easy to roll it out. But because the dough is soft, it will also be sticky. So I recommend one of two ways to roll out the dough.
- ZIPLOC BAG METHOD – Roll out the dough inside a gallon ziploc bag, so that the dough is enclosed and wont’s stick to your work surface. It also helps with maintaining a uniform rectangle shape and thickness.
- PARCHMENT PAPER METHOD – Roll out the dough between two pieces of parchment paper. This prevents sticking, but you will need to gauge the thickness of the dough with a ruler or rolling pin guides.
My favorite method is the ziploc bag method. Because I can roll out the dough to completely fill the bag, and I get a perfect square. This makes it so easy to cut the dough into square shaped chocolate shortbread cookies. Plus there is very little wasted dough. In addition, if I roll the dough evenly, I can easily get an evenly thick dough that is just under 0.5 cm which will ensure even baking as well.
Once the dough is rolled out, transfer the dough (in the ziploc bag or parchment paper), onto a baking tray. Refrigerate overnight, or freeze for a few hours until the dough is firm.
When the dough is firm, remove it from the parchment paper or ziploc bag (you may have to carefully cut the bag) and place it on a lightly floured surface.
I like to cut my chocolate shortbread cookies into squares or rectangles (like my classic shortbread cookies). Using a sharp knife, trim just the edges to get sharp edges. Next, cut the cookie dough into the shape you prefer. I use a wavy vegetable cutter to get the wavy edges – something similar to this.
Next, place the cut cookies on a parchment paper-lined cookie tray, and freeze for at least 15 – 20 minutes.
Baking the chocolate shortbread cookies
While the cookies are chilling, preheat the oven to 350 F / 180 C. I use a conventional oven, so you will need to adjust the temperature and / or time if you use a convection oven.
Line a cookie tray / baking tray with parchment paper. Place the chilled cookies on the baking tray, about 1 inch apart.
Bake the cookies for about 15 – 20 minutes. It’s a little harder to tell when chocolate shortbread cookies are actually done baking. But the cookie edges will turn a slightly darker shade when they are done baking. The more you bake these cookies, the easier it gets to determine when they are done.
The cookies will be soft straight out of the oven, but will become firm as they cool down. Transfer the chocolate shortbread cookies onto a wire rack to cool down completely.
Decorating the cookies
Once they have cooled down, drizzle the cookies with melted chocolate for some extra sweetness if you like. I also love to sprinkle salt flakes on top for a salty crunch. But all that is optional.
You can also dip the cookies in chocolate, like I did for these espresso shortbread cookies.
How to store the cookies for later
These chocolate shortbread cookies don’t last too long in our house. They keep for about 1 week in an air-tight container at room temperature. Make sure the cookies are packed snugly, but carefully. The more air in the container, the sooner they become stale.
You can also freeze the shortbread cookie dough for about 3 months. Make sure to roll out the dough first and then freeze it, so that it’s easier to cut out shapes. Baked cookie dough will last about 1 month in the freezer.
Thaw out the frozen cookie dough in the fridge overnight. With baked cookies, you can let them thaw at room temperature.
Shortbread is not as sweet as a sugar cookie, and has that delightful buttery, crumbly texture. What I love even more about this chocolate shortbread cookie recipe is that it’s easy to make and the chocolate flavor is just so prominent! And with all the tips I’ve shared, like the ziploc bag hack, you will find it even easier to roll out and cut the cookies. No more guess-work, no more spread shortbread cookies, no more messy countertops. These delicious cookies are a fantastic treat for the holidays!
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Chocolate shortbread cookies
- 226 g unsalted butter 2 sticks / 1 cup
- ¼ tsp fine sea salt I use slightly more for a salty kick
- 115 g caster sugar ½ cup + 1 tbsp (see recipe notes to substitute with confectioner's sugar)
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 35 g rice flour or cornstarch about ¼ cup, measured by spoon and level method
- 45 g cocoa powder about ¼ cup + 2 tbsp, measured by spoon and level method
- 250 g AP flour about 2 cups, measured by spoon and level method
- Melted chocolate to decorate optional (I used Valrhona passionfruit callets here)
- Place the butter and salt in the mixer bowl, and mix on medium speed until creamy (using a paddle beater) – about 2 to 4 minutes. You can use a stand mixer or a hand-held mixer.226 g unsalted butter, ¼ tsp fine sea salt
- Add the sugar, and mix until the sugar and butter are creamed well, and the mix is fluffy and creamy – another 2 to 4 minutes. Make sure to scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl to ensure the butter sugar mix is creamed evenly.115 g caster sugar
- Add the vanilla and mix for a few seconds to incorporate.2 tsp vanilla extract
- In a separate bowl, sift the AP flour, rice flour / cornstarch, and cocoa powder together.35 g rice flour or cornstarch, 250 g AP flour, 45 g cocoa powder
- Add the dry ingredients in two additions, and MIX ON LOW (or the stir setting), until the flour is mixed in with the butter-sugar mix, and the dough forms clumps. Do NOT over-mix, as this can make the shortbread cookies tough and chewy.
- Place a parchment paper on your work surface, and turn out the cookie dough onto the parchment paper.
- Fold the parchment paper to bring the dough together to form a cohesive dough (fold the dough over 2 – 3 times to help bring it together). Then flatten the dough into a disc shape. Make sure there are no flour streaks or butter streaks in the dough.
- Place the dough disc in a gallon-size ziploc bag, seal it, and let it rest for about 10 minutes at room temperature.
- Place the ziploc bag on a flat and smooth surface, and open the bag. Gently roll the dough using a rolling pin, maintaining an even thickness throughout the dough. Press / roll the dough into the bottom edge of the ziploc bag, and then roll it out to fill the ziploc bag. The dough should form a 10 x 10 inch square, that's about ½ inch thick. Keep the bag open while you do this to allow excess air to escape, so you can easily roll out the dough to an even thickness.
- When the dough has been rolled out, close the ziploc bag making sure there are no air bubbles. Carefully transfer the dough filled ziploc bag onto a sheet pan. Then transfer this to the fridge to chill for about 30 – 60 minutes, or until the dough is firm enough to cut through.
- Once the dough is chilled, carefully remove the dough disc from the ziploc bag. You may need to cut the bag open carefully. Place the dough on a parchment paper on a smooth surface, and using a sharp knife, trim just the edges to get sharp edges.
- Cookie shape 1 – Cut the dough into any shape you prefer. Make sure to use a sharp cutter, knife or crinkle cutter. Here, I cut the dough into 25 cookies (about 1.5 inch squares).
- Cookie shape 2 – You can also cut the dough in half, and then cut shortbread fingers that are about 1 inch in width for a total of 18 – 20 cookies.
- Using a fork or toothpick – pierce each cookie in a pattern on top (see pictures in the post). Transfer the parchment paper with the cookies onto a baking sheet and refrigerate for about another 30 – 60 minutes, until the cookies are chilled. You can also cover the pan with plastic wrap and refrigerate the dough overnight at this point as well.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F / 180°C (conventional). When the cookies are ready to be baked, place the cookies on a parchment paper-lined baking tray, about 1 inch apart (you may need to use 2 half sheet pans for all the cookies).
- Bake the cookies in the center of the oven for about 15 – 20 minutes. The edges will only just turn slightly darker in color (it might actually be hard to see this visually if you use a darker cocoa powder. So check on the cookies after about 12 minutes, to make sure they are not burning).
- Remove from the oven and allow the cookies to cool slightly. Then transfer the cookies carefully onto a wire rack to cool completely.
- Repeat with the rest of the cookies.
- Once the cookies are cooled, decorate the cookies if you like with a drizzle of melted chocolate of your choice, or half dip each cookie in melted chocolate. You can also serve them as they are. Store the cookies in an air-tight container.Melted chocolate to decorate
Tips & Tricks
Storing for laterThese cookies will keep for about 1 week in an air-tight container at room temperature, or the fridge. Make sure the cookies are packed snugly, but carefully. The more air in the container, the sooner they become stale. You can also freeze the shortbread cookie dough for about 3 months. Make sure to roll out the dough first and then freeze it, so that it’s easier to cut out shapes. Baked cookie dough will last about 1 month in the freezer. Thaw out the frozen cookie dough in the fridge overnight. With baked cookies, you can let them thaw at room temperature.
“This website provides approximate nutrition information for convenience and as a courtesy only. Nutrition data is gathered primarily from the USDA Food Composition Database, whenever available, or otherwise other online calculators.”
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