One of the personality traits that is highest on my To Change, and Soon list is my intense and, quite frankly, irritating indecisiveness. Not ten minutes ago, in fact, I refused to settle on a time to visit a friend and insisted instead that he do so. See? Irritating.
This here may be the one instance in which indecisiveness wins. I couldn’t for the life of me choose a topping to sprinkle on the chocolate-dipped end of each of these brown sugar shortbread cookies, so I just chose everything. Crushed candy canes, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup crumbs, chopped Butterfingers, drizzled white chocolate, and some coarsely ground sea salt.
These cookies are the opposite of everything that’s always bothered me about shortbread. It’s so often crumbly and dry; plus, butter is always the dominant flavor, and while that’s nice, why not gild the lily a bit? This version is a little chewy, with a rich flavor from the brown sugar. If you wanted to really put in some effort, try browning the butter before making the cookies.
While all of these were well received at the Christmas party I brought them to (and in my office’s kitchen), and while I love them all exactly the same…go ahead and make double the number of any of the other toppings with the sea salt. Make a whole batch with sea salt. That way, when one of the guests at your next party is pawing through the pan for a sea salt version because the person who’s just come in Needs To Taste It NOW, you’ll have extras for a refill.
Brown Sugar Shortbread
Adapted from Epicurious
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/3 cups packed brown sugar
2 teaspoons kosher salt
3 egg yolks
2 tablespoons vanilla extract
3 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
10 ounces semisweet chocolate, melted
Fun toppings, for sprinkling
In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine butter, sugar and salt. Cream on medium speed until blended, about 2 minutes. One by one, add the egg yolks, mixing until incorporated. Add the vanilla extract. Scrape down the bowl.
Turn the mixer off and add the flour. Turn the machine to low and mix until the flour is completely incorporated. Remove the dough from the bowl. Working on parchment or wax paper, form dough into 4 logs 10 inches long and 1 1/4 inches in diameter; wrap and chill.
Preheat the oven to 325°F. Cut the log into twenty 1/2-inch rounds or slices. Arrange 2 inches apart on all sides on parchment-lined or nonstick cookie sheets.
Bake until golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes (err on the lower side here if you want chewy cookies, like I did). Cool the cookies on a wire rack.
Melt chocolate in a double boiler or in the microwave (microwave 1 minute, then in 30 second intervals, stirring after each, until chocolate is barely melted). Dip one half of each cookie into chocolate and arrange on wax paper to dry. While chocolate is still wet, sprinkle with toppings of your choice.