I got this recipe from a friend of the family. Apparently, these little shortbread cookies were a huge hit in the teachers' workroom at my friend's elementary school. I figured that any humble cookie that can wow a bunch of teachers — who've likely eaten more cookies in their day than they can count — was worth trying. And you know what? Yup, totally worth it.
These are great cookies for people who don't like too-sweet cookies. There's only a half-cup of powdered sugar in the whole batch, and even with the addition of chocolate chips and toffee chips, plus that corner-dunk in chocolate, they aren't over the top. They are crumbly and buttery, just like good shortbread should be.
When I first made these, I could not for the life of me find mini-Heath bar chips in Manhattan. So I substituted some finely chopped hazelnuts (cutting down on the sweetness even more). These cookies were delicious, but we've had the version with Heath chips, and I have to say they're better.
Recipe Tester's Notes
Like Elizabeth, I'm not a fan of seriously over-the-top sweet cookies, and I admit to being a bit skeptical when I first made these. Sure, there's only a half cup of powdered sugar, but what about all those little candy bits? And is that chocolate-dipped edge really necessary?
I'm here to tell you that the answer is yes. It's so surprising, but these little morsels scoot just under my too-sweet radar. The bittersweet chocolate chips and the crunchy toffee with the buttery shortbread — it just works. Oh and yes, do dip these cookies in chocolate. They're perfectly serviceable without, but that extra bit of chocolate makes them feel like something special.
I made a few changes to Elizabeth's original recipe. I felt it needed a dash of salt to balance things out. I also thought these worked better as slice-and-bake cookies instead of drop cookies, though I've kept Elizabeth's original instructions in the Recipe Notes if you prefer that version. Also, while it's true that these aren't too sweet, I do think that you could scale back the chocolate chips a bit. I left her original amounts, but know that you could use just a half cup of chocolate chips in the dough and feel quite content.
For an afternoon snack, for a teacher's treat, for your next potluck dinner — I highly recommend a batch of these easy-peasy shortbread cookies.
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup powdered sugar, sifted
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups mini semi-sweet chocolate chips, divided
3/4 cup Heath toffee chips
1 tablespoon vegetable shortening
In the bowl of a stand mixer or with a hand mixer, cream together the butter, powdered sugar, and salt until completely smooth. Mix in the vanilla. On low speed, mix in the flour until combined and a dough is formed. With a stiff spatula, fold in 1 cup of the chocolate chips and the Heath chips.
Divide the dough in half and shape each half into a log roughly 1 foot long and 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Wrap both logs of dough in parchment and twist the ends closed. If desired, you can use an empty paper towel roll to shape perfectly round logs (see how here). Refrigerate the rolls until firm or up to three days. The logs can also be sealed inside a freezer bag and frozen for up to three months; thaw in the fridge overnight before baking.
When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350°F with a rack in the top third and bottom third of the oven. Line two baking sheets with parchment. Slice the logs into slices 1/4- to 1/2-inch thick using a sharp knife. Arrange them slightly apart on the baking sheets.
Bake the cookies for 12 to 15 minutes, rotating the pans once, until the edges are firm to the touch and just barely brown. Let the cookies cool completely on the baking sheets before removing from the pan as shortbread is very brittle.
Melt the remaining 1 cup of chocolate chips and shortening in a double boiler, stirring frequently until smooth, or microwave in 15-second intervals, stirring between each interval. Dip one end of each cookie into the chocolate and use an off-set spatula or butter knife to scrape off the excess chocolate. Place the dipped cookies on waxed paper or parchment paper until set (or refrigerate to speed up the process). Store in an airtight container at room temperature.
Elizabeth's Original Drop Cookie Version: After making the dough, do not refrigerate. Preheat the oven to 350°F and shape spoonfuls of dough into small balls, about one inch wide. Place the balls two inches apart on a cookie sheet that has either been sprayed with cooking spray or lined with parchment paper. Press down lightly to give each cookie a slightly flat surface. Bake for 10 to 13 minutes, until fairly firm to the touch.
Recipe adapted from Sheri Burkeen.
This recipe has been updated. Originally published April 2009.