Bittersweet Honorable Mention: Best Overlooked Treat
Julie told us that she made this Bittersweet Chocolate Cranberry Shortbread because she loves to eat it, and it doesn’t get much air time. She’s right – shortbread is less sexy and dramatic than a chocolate soufflé, say, or a molten chocolate cake. But it’s also incredibly pleasurable, especially with a cup of coffee in the afternoon, when you can really savor all that butter and the delicate texture of the sandy shortbread.
So we had to give her and her quiet shortbread an Honorable Mention in our baking contest. This is the last of our Honorable Mentions and we just want to say thank you again to ALL of our lovely entrants and winners!
Bittersweet is having chocolate, but only an ounce. Bittersweet is just a little taste of tart and tang and sweet, but just a little to cut the bitter. Bittersweet is having a batch of shortbread, but only a small batch. Bittersweet is cookies that look like something you’d use to build a wall… a sweet wall to keep the bitter, bitter world out. Okay, now I’m stretching. 😉
I wracked my brain for something bittersweet – my favorite brownie recipe (ATK’s classic brownies) uses bittersweet and unsweetened chocolate, as does a chocolate white chocolate chunk coffee cookie recipe I love. Then there are chocolate hot pots or chocolate cakes for one, baked in soufflé dishes. I could do something with beautiful plating or with a comforting taste… I decided instead to do something that I thought might not get any air time but that I love to eat – shortbread. It’s not the prettiest shortbread I’ve ever made, but I didn’t want to priss it up too much. I also wanted something that was almost masculine, since it’s usually my guy friends who love bittersweet, where my gal friends go toward dark, or semi-sweet. Thus, I decided to forego the traditional wedge-shaped shortbread and just cube these up. And there ya go!
Oh yeah – bittersweet is also dipping your shortbread in your coffee for a moment too long … rats. You can have your cookie and drink it, too!
Small Batch of Bittersweet Chocolate Cranberry Shortbread
Makes 16 little cookies – just double the recipe for more
1 stick of unsalted room temperature butter with 1/4 cup of powdered sugar
1/4 tsp baking powder
1 oz melted, slightly cooled bittersweet chocolate
1 Tbsp of cooled coffee sludge (half boiling water, half instant coffee or espresso)
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
Stir in, just to combine:
1 cup AP flour
1/4 cup dried cranberries
If dough is sticky, mix in 1 to 2 Tbsp additional flour – dough should be tacky and soft.
Form dough into a disk on parchment and let rest in fridge for at least 1 hour. Alternatively, add filling to sandwich bag and roll to 1/4 inch thickness, rest in fridge for at least 1 hour (cool Dorie/ATK/Alton trick). While dough rests, place oven rack in center of oven and preheat oven to 325 degrees. If dough is bagged, cut bag off and cut dough into shapes. Gently prick dough with fork so that there are prick marks about an inch apart from each other to prevent possible buckling and shrinkage (because that can suck, unless you like buckling and shrinkage).
Place dough on parchment on cookie sheet, and bake for 18-20 minutes. Cool before serving. If you’re feeling better about the world, dip cooled cookies in melted chocolate. Or just tease yourself and drizzle it on, maybe just dip half. Or use the melted chocolate as mortar for your brick wall.