Sometimes, old really is best. There’s that sense of comfort that comes with familiarity- in other words you know what you’re going to get. Recipe testing doesn’t always provide those kinds of assurances.
I don’t usually make a point of claiming favourites but lets just say that if I died from gorging on this chocolate shortbread then it would have been a happy way to go. As afternoon treat recipes go this one is living with the Gods- well maybe they are sharing a seat with these. If the two of them ever happened to find themselves side by side next to my tea mug in the same afternoon…..oooh well now, that would be asking for trouble.
I’ve tried multiple ways of making them and finally I’ve come up with what I like to refer to as the ethereal version. And now comes the part where I try to tell you why. Their deeply rich chocolate crumb is guaranteed to sabotage even the most abstemious eaters and hardcore dieters alike. I’m talking, cocoa powder, melted 70% chocolate, chunks of 70% chocolate and cocoa nibs encased in butter, a bit of flour and sugar to hold them together and oh, just a generous pinch of salt for good measure. These are pure D-I-E-T S-A-B-O-T-A-G-E and you’ll need to scrub your teeth after to hide the
shame evidence. A ticket to chocolate heaven has never been free.
So, if they are so darn good then why did I have to go and change them? Lets just say that I have trouble following recipes- even my own. Plus I think there’s always room for improvement. This time I used a mixture of oat flour and plain flour which gives them just the right texture- they don’t go rock hard in the fridge but they also don’t go soft. I’ve cut down on the salt because I had too many people with uneducated palettes accuse me of loosing control with the salt spoon. They still taste bloody good- they’re just a bit more user friendly. The sugar was cut down by a third- you won’t notice that there’s less sugar but what you will notice is what great use that expensive chocolate you bought was put to.
I should also mention that it was my gifted friend Dan and his fancy camera who very kindly took these beautiful photos. Dan claimed he was watching his food intake the day he came over- but it did not take persuasion to send him home with half a batch of these little treasures. The remaining half batch managed to bypass bunking down in the biscuit tin and were polished off with impressive speed and award winning enthusiasm by yours truly and her husband. Only now that they are gone are we safe from temptation.
Chocolate Cocoa Nib Shortbread
I got the idea for this recipe from another food blogger who made cookies similar to these at work one day. They were totally divine- but being my impatient-self I didn’t want to weigh out tons of ingredients, wait around while the dough chilled and then form into rounds and bake in batches so I made a few ingredient cuts, skipped the chilling and pressed the dough into a tin.
Cocoa nibs (roasted, unshelled chopped cocoa beans) can be bought in gourmet shops- if you go to the effort of seeking them out you will not be disappointed.
You can use all plain flour, but the oat flour gives the shortbread a softer texture- you will want to store them in the fridge.
Diet Facts: This recipe is diet sabotage. Do no attempt if you are on a diet.
280g/10 oz bittersweet chocolate (preferably 70 %), chopped and divided
225g/2 sticks (8 oz) unsalted butter, softened
100g/4 oz light brown soft sugar
150g/1 cup oat flour
150g/ 1 cup plain flour
50g/2 oz unsweetened good quality cocoa powder
50g/1/2 cup cocoa nibs (or chopped nuts)
1/2 tsp kosher salt (1/4 tsp if it’s fine salt)
1 20 x 30 cm baking tin
1/ Heat the oven to 350F/180C/Gas 4. Melt half of the chocolate (I microwave for 1 minute and then stir until it’s fully melted) Beat the butter (ideally in a kitchen aid with the paddle beater) until smooth. Add the sugar and beat until fully combined and creamy (about 1 minute with the mixer, 2 minutes by hand).
2/ Add the melted chocolate and mix until evenly combined. Sift over the 2 flours, cocoa and salt and mix until almost combined. Fold through the cocoa nibs and remaining chopped chocolate by hand. If the mixture is really wet, then add another tablespoonful or two of flour. If not, press mixture into tin evenly. If it’s sticking really badly to your hands then lightly wet them. Prick all over with a fork.
3/ Bake in the oven for 25 minutes- it will continue to cook as it cools. After 10 minutes, cut the squares with a knife but leave in the tin. Allow to cool then store in an airtight container in the fridge.