Many of you remind me that I should update my blog more regularly but I have been preoccupied with projects and things other than desserts lately. What have been keeping me busy? I have been working on the making of my summer wardrobe, practicing point de croix (cross-stitching), taking dance classes and putting together a friend’s wedding in August; not much but just enough to drain my energy and drag me away from the kitchen for now. Nevertheless, I did manage to squeeze an hour to bake this shortbread, something that has been on my to-bake list for a while. Adopted from a recipe by Elizabeth Falkner in The Essence of Chocolate, this chocolate shortbread is another favorite of mine since I discovered these matcha shortbreads.
I first baked these chocolate shortbreads to nibble on the drive to a friend’s wedding up in Lake Tahoe. Though friends are used to my pick of unusual flavor combinations in desserts & pastries, few were still surprised with this “salty” cookies. Most thought they were too rich and odd with a salty sweet flavor but a few thought the saltiness added a kick to the chocolaty cookie. As for me, these shortbreads are quite intriguing, the perfect balance of sweet and savory. They have an intensely rich buttery chocolate flavor, the sweetness of the chocolate pairs especially well with the mineral notes in fleur de sel sea salt. The fleur de sel and chocolate combination just enticing, seductive and simply brilliant! Bitterness, acidity, sweetness, astringency and saltiness are inherent to chocolate and fleur de sel sea salt brings out and enhances these spectacular dimensions of flavor in chocolate, emphasizing its aromatic and bittersweet note.
Again I baked these chocolate shortbreads this past weekend because I had a craving for it. However, I added another spice to the dough and that is ground pink peppers. It has a sweet, mild taste not pungent like the regular ripe pepper fruits, which I think further enhances the chocolate flavor. I think other spices like cumin, lavender would also work but take care not to add too much because you want to enhance (or balance) not overpower the chocolate flavor. Also, they are quite rich so enjoy them with a cup of good tea or serve with sorbet like I did - click here for the chocolate sorbet recipe ~
Chocolate Shortbread with Cacao Nibs, Pink Pepper & Fleur de Sel – yields 30
Adapted from Elizabeth Falkner’s recipe in The Essence of Chocolate
1 cup all purpose flour
¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
¼ cup + 2 tbsp cacao nibs, crushed with a rolling pin
½ tsp pink pepper, finely grinded
1 tsp fleur de sel sea salt
12 tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
½ cup granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
I thought you should know:
- The dough can be refrigerated, well wrapped, for up to 1 week, or frozen for up to 2 months.
- Make sure to press the cookie cutter hard into the dough to get a clean cut. Take care to keep the shape by shaking the cutter slightly before pushing out the dough.
- To preserve the crispiness, shortbreads must be completely cooled before being stored in an airtight container.
Combine flour and cocoa powder then sift the flour mixture into a small bowl. In another bowl, combine the cocoa nibs, sea salt and pink pepper. Preheat the oven to 325°F/165°C. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or using a handheld mixer, cream the butter and sugar on medium speed for about 5 minutes, until light and fluffy, stopping occasionally to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl. Mix in the vanilla extract then add half of the flour mixture and mix on low speed until incorporated. Add in the remaining flour mixture, stopping as necessary to scrape down the bowl. Once incorporated, mix on medium speed for 1-2 minutes, or until well combined. Mix in the nibs + salt + pepper mixture and mix until evenly distributed.
On a lightly floured board or between two pieces of parchment paper, roll the dough into a square ¼ inch (7mm) thick. Cut into 1 by 2.5 inch (2.5cm by 6.5cm)rectangles or stamp out other desired shape using cookie cutters, and place on the prepared pans about 1 inch (2.5cm) apart.
Bake for 20 minutes. It is sometimes difficult to tell when these are done; however, one of the best indications is the smell of baked cookies in the air. When the cookies are nudged, they shouldn’t feel soft, but the bottoms should seem crisp.
Remove from the oven and transfer shortbreads to a cooling rack to cool completely. The shortbreads can be stored in an airtight container for up to 1 week.
巧克力鹽之花胡椒奶油酥餅 – 約30塊
食譜摘自The Essence of Chocolate
¼杯 + 2湯匙 可可豆碎(桿壓成碎末)
½茶匙 粉紅胡椒﹐ 磨碎
將麵糰放在撒上麵粉的工作台上﹐揉成四方形條狀﹐再輕壓成1寸乘2 ½ 寸(2.5cm乘6.5cm)的長方形狀。將麵糰切成¼寸(7mm)的厚片或是將麵糰桿成約厚¼寸(7mm)後﹐再用餅乾模具吸出麵糰。以1寸/2.5cm之距排放在鋪了烤紙的烤盤上﹐放入烤箱烤20分鐘或是烤到酥餅變硬即可。取出﹐放網架上靜置放涼。酥餅放密閉式容器中可存放1個星期。