Chocolate Shortbread Fingers

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?

Chocolate Shortbread Fingers

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.

Chocolate Shortbread Fingers

One Year Ago: Hot Pizza Dip Bites {Sugar Rush Reinvented: #5}
Two Years Ago: Root Beer Float Fudge {Sugar Rush #8}
Three Years Ago: Sugar Rush #9: Chocolate Chip Gingerbread Cake

Chocolate Shortbread Fingers

Yield: Makes 16-20 shortbread fingers

Chocolate Shortbread Fingers

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)


  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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

49 Responses to Chocolate Shortbread Fingers

  1. mangomama says:

    anybody try adding chopped almonds to the top before baking? I have them all ready to go in the oven but the almonds are calling my name πŸ™‚

  2. Tiffany says:

    Hi Mel! I know you use white whole wheat flour for a lot of your breads, do you use the white whole wheat in your baking recipes ever, like in this recipe?

  3. Christina says:

    What happens if you don’t prick the dough with the fork? I forgot to do this before putting it in the oven

  4. Christina says:

    What happens if you don’t prick the do

  5. Jennifer W says:

    Mel ~ I made these late yesterday afternoon for an event last night but was hoping to freeze the leftovers for Christmas Eve. Do you have any thoughts or happen to know if that would work well for this style of cookie?

  6. Melissa Lawrence says:

    I made the chocolate shortbread fingers, and I’m fairly certain I didn’t bake them long enough. The ones around the edges had a nice texture, but the bars from the middle of the pan were dense. How do you tell when they’re done?
    Thank you for your wonderful site! I think I’ve gained 5 lbs so far… πŸ™‚

    • Mel says:

      Hi Melissa – I actually cook them kind of the same way so the center of the bars are slightly fudge and dense. I think I intentionally undercook them a bit. It’s kind of a matter of preference. If you want that classic buttery shortbread texture, add a few minutes to the baking time.

  7. Issi says:

    I live in Spain, can you tell me how much a “stick” of butter weighs. I can convert if you don’t have metric weights.
    I would love to make these cookies, they sound wonderful.
    Thank you

  8. Jenny Richardson says:

    Sorry to bug on a Sunday…trying these out for a missionary open house tonight. Can you double and do in a jelly roll/edged cookie sheet? Thanks!

    • Mel says:

      Jenny Richardson – Sorry for the late response… I hope they worked out for you. When you say jelly roll are you talking an 11×17 inch pan? I’ve never tried doubling but usually recipes fit for a 9×13-inch pan double ok for one of those large rimmed baking sheets.

  9. Amanda says:

    Has anyone tried freezing these? I like to do my baking in advance, just wondering if anyone had tried freezing them?

  10. Mel says:

    Hi there, can the dough be rolled out and use cookie cutters to make individual choc shortbread biscuits? Mx

  11. Fitz says:

    Thank you for clarifying – on both questions. As for the “adapted from” comments, I didn’t realize you had changed the recipe. So perfectly appropriate!

  12. Mel says:

    Hi Fitz – I like these just fine the day after baking. The third day they aren’t quite as fresh. As for your question on ‘adapted from’ – it’s a good question. If you look at Martha Stewart’s original recipe for these, she calls for unsalted butter and Dutch-process cocoa powder. I adapted the recipe to use salted butter and included the option to use regular unsweetened cocoa powder since I’ve used it before with good results. Major adaptations? No, but still adapted. It’s actually a courtesy to include the ‘adapted’ part so that those who create the originals (Martha Stewart in this case) don’t get labeled for using salted butter, like I did and which would probably be a travesty to real foodies – or get associated with any other changes I or anyone may make to their recipes. So even when I make very slight adaptations, I like to include ‘adapted from’ so that people aren’t under the incorrect assumption that this is Martha Stewart’s exact recipe. Does that help at all?

  13. Fitz says:

    Another question – why do you say this recipe was “adapted from” Martha Stewart’s book? It’s exactly the same recipe except the instructions are in your words. Just curious, I see “adapted from” all the time on recipe blogs, but it doesn’t seem appropriate to say that unless you really have modified it.

  14. Fitz says:

    Do you know what these taste like the day after baking?

    I have been tasked to make chocolate shortbread for a party after work this week, but I have read comments in some shortbread recipes that they don’t taste as good the next day. (However, I find it hard to believe they would dry out since there’s so much butter.)

  15. Oh yes… I’ll be making these soon!

  16. Brittany C. says:

    I’m about to throw these in the oven, but I couldn’t bring myself to put in 3 whole sticks of butter! So I did about 2 and 1/3. I really hope they turn out πŸ™‚

  17. Ross A. says:

    I was looking for Christmas cookie ideas to give out as gifts and I came across your blog. I just made these and they’re definitely a keeper. I crushed peppermint candy canes and sprinkled them on top before baking and still sprinkled with sugar after cutting them. I wasn’t sure how they would turn out with the candy canes but they melted well making them more Christmas like and added a wonderful flavor to the cookies. They turned out beautifully and tasted great! I’ll be making more to give out. Thank you for the recipe.

  18. Felechia says:

    I made these morning and gave them a taste test just now. I like them! I like them more than regular shortbread! (That sound you hear in the background in my Scottish grandmother turning over in her grave.) I’ve made many of your recipes and they’ve all been good. Here’s another. Thanks

  19. Jennifer D. says:

    Who just finished making these at 10:30 at night and has now eaten 3?! I have! These would be delicious with some hot tea! I’ve always loved shortbread, but never heard of chocolate shortbread! To be honest, I was way skeptical, they are weird when you put them into the pan before baking, not what I was expecting with the fluffy/stickiness and I had issues spreading it evenly. (I’ve never made shortbread so I had no idea) I thought for sure I did something wrong. But after they cooled, they looked like yours and I inhaled several before I could even stop myself. I really love these and will be making more to give away for Christmas. Thank you for sharing your amazing recipes with us. They never disappoint!

  20. Stacie A. says:

    Okay- they were amazing. I might have eaten 3 in one day. Woops.

  21. Powdered sugar has corn starch or other additives in it. Don’t substitute it for superfine sugar.

  22. Stacie A. says:

    These are cooling on my stove right now, and I am DYING to bite into one (I made them because I was craving a treat, so the waiting part is really REALLY hard). They look and smell fabulous. I will forget how many sticks of butter are in them while I devour them. haha

  23. Maggie says:

    Love the sound of this recipe! I laughed out loud at how you lay awake at night wondering how you will manage to get through your list of ‘to bakes’ because I do the same thing lol. Also I manage to have a pantry full of ingredients but for every recipe I print out to try I am missing just one item to be able to make it right away…so into the lineup it goes!

  24. Nita says:

    These were really yummy. They had a nice chocolate flavor and were light. My little ones liked them and so did my husband. I’ll be making more of these to give away this week. Thanks for the great recipes! I think I’ve made all of your cookie recipes and they have all been great

  25. Ashley says:

    These are in my oven right now…I can’t wait to get them out!!

  26. Mel says:

    Joy – I’ve never subbed in powdered sugar since it’s so easy to blend up the granulated sugar but I suppose you could try it. I don’t know the official difference between the two but sounds like they must be similar.

  27. I love any kind of shortbread recipe, and if you throw chocolate in their somewhere, you’ve got me drooling. These looks so yummy!

  28. Joy says:

    So what’s the difference between superfine sugar and powdered sugar? Because I’ve made powdered sugar that same way- blending it in the old vitamix- when I’ve run out. Could I just be lazy and use powdered sugar instead?

  29. These sound amazing! Love sugar rush! πŸ™‚

  30. Tanya says:

    Wow! These look amazing. And no, I have never, ever experienced the urge for something sweet right now, thus leading me to devour slightly suspect chocolate chips as a last resort. Never!

    The very bad thing is that I have all the ingredients to make these. And I love, love shortbread cookies. And now with chocolate! I can’t wait to make these!

  31. Rob Long says:

    I love shortbreads. I love chocolate. This is sure to be a match made in heaven πŸ™‚ Can’t wait to try these…YUM!!

    BTW, I want to make all the Sugar Rush items…they all sound so good! Unfortunately, I haven’t started yet. I guess I need to get going πŸ˜€

  32. April says:

    I just have to say that your blog is one of my “go-to’s”. Thanks for the wonderful recipes! Merry Christmas!

  33. Roni says:

    Hi Mel, I have a question for you, are these anything like brownies? My husband doesn’t like brownies at all, but I was thinking about making these. Let me know what you think.

    • Mel says:

      Hi Roni – no, the texture of these are not like brownies at all. Where brownies are dense and chewy and really rich, these shortbread bars are buttery and have a lot of chocolate flavor but the texture is more melt-in-your-mouth and not moist like a brownie. Does that help?

  34. kate C. says:

    Three sticks of butter??? No wonder they’re good!

  35. Karrie says:

    I am making these today! Just for me! (These could also be labeled “butter rush” haha)!

  36. Barbara says:

    ok, I must ask…..what happens if you don’t make your sugar superfine?

    • Mel says:

      Barbara – the superfine sugar helps these shortbread fingers literally melt in your mouth. If you don’t use superfine sugar, it will probably adjust the texture of the shortbread but exactly how, I can’t say, since I’ve always just quickly ground up sugar to use.

  37. I lie awake too! Man, the issues food bloggers have! I like your sense of humor Mel, and this is a recipe to treasure. Pinning it right now (in the Recipes-to-try board the way you taught me to, I might add!)

  38. Kim in MD says:

    You made me laugh out loud this morning, Mel! The shortbread looks delicious, and since I have never had chocolate shortbread these are a must make recipe for me! You are right…I have everything in my pantry to make these today!

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