How could I do a series on chocolate chip cookies in 2018 and not include what has to be the most popular baking recipe of the past year! Yes today we are talking Alison Roman’s Salted Butter Chocolate Chunk Shortbread. Now, it may be a little unfair including this recipe as it doesn’t really fall into the same style category as the rest of the chocolate chip cookies in the line-up but I thought there was still plenty we could learn from a cookie of a different sort and the point of this series was to test drive those recipes that have a big following online and what better recipe for that criteria than this. The reason this is different from the rest is of course that is a shortbread style dough. Most chocolate chip cookies tend to be drop cookies, made from a relatively soft dough that can be scooped or spooned from the bowl to the baking tray, things like oatmeal raisin, snickerdoodles and of course our beloved chocolate chip cookies. Yet Alison’s recipe fulfils many of the requirements, uses many the same ingredients and is just as easy to make.
Alison’s recipe is a fairly classic shortbread style cookie, although less sweet than some and it also uses salted butter, which is definitely less common in baking. The flavour of this butter, according to Alison, has an ever so slightly funky almost fermented flavour and with the salt generally being evenly distributed throughout the butter, and therefore the cookie, the sense of a better flavoured dough should be heightened. When it comes to sugars it still uses a mix of white and brown sugar although the brown sugar is minimal but it is there as a nod to chocolate chip cookies and that more caramel like flavour it lends to a classic cookie. I have gone with using the chocolate chips, roughly chopped so that we get some small shards and some chunks, I also think the slightly smaller form of the chips will make slicing these cookies easier than with bigger pieces. So beyond the flavouring of the dough this recipe also builds in a lot of texture because before the dough is sliced it is rolled in demerara sugar which gives a great crunch to the finished cookie.
Alison Roman’s Salted Butter Chocolate Chunk Shortbread
From her book - Dining In
2 1/4 sticks (255g) cold salted butter, diced
1/2 cup (100g) granulated sugar
1/4 cup (55g) light brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups (325g) all-purpose/plain flour
6 ounces (170g) dark chocolate (I used Guittard 63% chocolate chips, roughly chopped)
1 large egg
Demerara sugar, for rolling
flaked sea salt, for sprinkling
To make the cookie dough place the butter and sugars into the bowl of a stand mixer and beat together for 5 minutes or until light and fluffy. If using an electric hand mixer or doing this with a wooden spoon this will take longer, just make suer the texture is light and fluffy or the finished dough will be hard to handle and likely to crumble when cut.
Add the vanilla to the butter mixture and beat for 30 seconds to combine. Add the flour in one go and mix on low speed, just until the dough is combined. You want to be careful about over mixing the dough at this stage as it will make the cookies tough and chewy. Add the roughly chopped chocolate and mix briefly just to evenly distribute throughout the dough.
Tip the dough out onto the work surface and use your hands to gently bring together into a ball. A note to those not used to baking this type of cookie. Sometimes not all the flour gets easily incorporated and this can lead to a crumbly hard to handle dough. If when the dough is removed from the bowl there are dry patches use your hands to briefly work the dough a little until a more uniform texture.
Cut the dough into two roughly equal pieces and use your hands to form into rough sausage shapes, about 2 - 2 1/4 inches in diameter. Wrap the logs in clingfilm and refrigerate for two hours before baking
Preheat the oven to 180C (350F) and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.Remove the logs from the fridge and discard the clingfilm. Brush the dough lightly with a little beaten egg, just moistening the edge. Roll the logs in demerara sugar pressing into the dough.
Use a thin sharp knife to cut the logs of dough into cookies about 1/2 inch thick. Place onto the prepared baking sheets, an inch or so apart. Sprinkle each cookie with a little flaked sea salt and bake in the preheated oven for about 12-15 minutes until just starting to turn golden around the edges. Let cool slightly before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
Kept in a sealed container these cookies will keep for up to 5 days.
As I said these are not what I think of when I think chocolate chip cookie, but that doesn’t matter as they are delicious and very easy to make. I love the flavour the salted butter gives the dough and the balance of sweet and salty is perfect. I am a big fan of using demerara sugar to add texture so the edge of this cookie is my favourite part.