Salty Shortbread Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

This recipe is the “cheat’s” version of Alison Roman’s Salted Butter & Chocolate Chunk Shortbread from one of my favourite new cookbooks, Dining In.

One Sunday, I needed to whip up something sweet for a casual dinner party and really wanted to make Alison’s shortbread. I was strapped for time, and you need to chill the dough for a few hours – not going to happen. I decided to create something inspired by her recipe that didn’t require chilling, but kept the flavour profile. I can’t get enough of the addictive fullsizeoutput_1268salty/sweetness of these squares (which can also be shaped into cookies). One of the dinner guests said he preferred these to regular chocolate chip cookies, which to me is basically the equivalent of an Oscar nomination.

Make sure you use good salted butter. I am a hardcore devotee of Maldon sea salt, which I generously sprinkle on top pre-bake.  Try to make sure your butter hasn’t been sitting out for days in a warm room – JUST room temperature butter will produce the best results.

 

Makes 12 large squares

1 cup salted butter (room temperature)

1/3 cup brown sugar, packed

2/3 cup granulated sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 1/2 cups of good dark chocolate chunks (you can use chips, but I prefer the look of chunks and it’s easy to chop up some 70% chocolate bars)

Flaky sea salt for top

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9 x 9 square baking pan and line with parchment paper. It should hang over 2 sides only, so trim it to fit the pan on the other two sides. This will allow you to easily lift it out.
  2. Cream butter and two sugars until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes in a large bowl with mixer.
  3. Add vanilla extract, kosher salt, and mix for 30 seconds.
  4. Sift flour and add slowly to the mixing bowl. Mix until incorporated, so no dry bits remain. Dough will be crumbly and slightly dry.
  5. Add chocolate chunks and only mix until evenly combined – don’t overmix.
  6. Spread the dough into the baking pan, and press down with your hands. Then, press with the back of a spoon to smooth.
  7. Score the shortbread into squares (take a sharp knife and cut lines into it so there are 12-16 squares, depending on how big you want them to be) and prick 3 lines of holes with the tines of a fork.
  8. Sprinkle with flaky salt. Bake for 15-20 minutes. They should be brown on the edges and a light golden colour in the middle. If you make them into cookies, I would suggest baking for 12-15 minutes instead.
  9. Let cool completely in the pan. Then, remove from pan and re-cut with a sharp knife to serve.

 

 

 

 

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