Do you have those recipes that are your go-to when you are in a pinch? Say your husband tells you at 9:00 p.m. that he needs to bring treats into work (hypothetical, of course) or you decide on a whim you need a sweet treat down your gullet NOW and it’s 15 below zero and there is two feet of snow on the ground which means you will not be taking a trip to the store for needed ingredients (again, this scenario would never happen in my Northern climate – ha!) or your child comes home and tells you he has something to confess about school that may involve his teacher and the principal and perhaps other innocent parties and he knows you won’t be happy and you decide you may need to send some instant bribery to the school, immediately, while your child spends the next 18 years in time out (really, as if I’m familiar with that kind of situation, puh-lease). I mean, do you have times like this or am I the only one?
In any case, these chocolate shortbread bars are my short-notice baked good for nearly any situation that requires a treat and it’s needed quickly. I have made them nearly 50 times over the last few years, as far as I can figure, and that’s saying a lot when I have so many recipes to try that sometimes I lay in bed awake at night stressing about how I’ll ever have time to try them all (clearly, I have issues). They call for simple, every day ingredients and take 5 minutes to put together, but the combination results in a fantastically tender, buttery, wonderfully chocolate confection that is just plain awesome.
And I will say this – I’ve taken a lot of treats places and never been asked for the recipe but no kidding, whenever I take these bars anywhere, people request, beg and threaten in order to get the recipe. They are that good.
See all of this year’s Sugar Rush treats HERE.
Note: To make superfine sugar as needed in the recipe, simply blend 1 cup granulated sugar until it is, well, super fine in texture. I don't remeasure after blending, I just pour it straight into the dough.
- 2 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 4 1/2 tablespoons dutch-process or regular unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) butter, softened
- 1 cup superfine sugar (see note above)
- Granulated sugar (for sprinkling)
- Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line a 9X13-inch pan with parchment paper or foil, letting the parchment or foil overhang on two sides so the bars can easily be pulled out of the pan after they are baked and cooled. Lightly grease the foil or parchment with cooking spray. Set aside.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, cinnamon, salt and baking soda. Place the butter and superfine sugar in a mixing bowl and beat with a handheld electric mixer (or use an electric stand mixer) until light and fluffy – 3-4 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the flour mixture. Beat until just combined.
- Spread the dough into the prepared pan, using a spatula or your fingers to even out the surface. Chill the dough for 15 minutes. Prick the dough all over with the tines of a fork and bake for 18-22 minutes. The shortbread will be slightly puffed but still soft. It will firm up as it cools.
- While the shortbread is still hot, cut the baked dough into fingers by cutting down the center the long way and then cutting into 8-10 strips across. Sprinkle the tops of the bars with granulated sugar and let the shortbread cool completely in the pan. Using the parchment or foil overhang, lift the bars from the pan, gently break into pieces (where they are cut) and serve at room temperature. The bars will keep for 2-3 days covered at room temperature.
Recipe Source: adapted from Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook