So, here’s one of those recipes that periodically just makes the rounds of the internet: the Salted Chocolate Chunk Shortbread Cookies from Alison Roman’s new-ish cookbook, “Dining In.” Everyone — I mean, everyone — is making them: The New York Times Cooking app (which is where I first spotted the recipe), Smitten Kitchen, Bon Appétit … and when I taught my winter soup class at the Cooking School at Jungle Jim’s last week, one of the chefs there had made a batch at home and brought some to share.
As with all such things on the interwebs, there are all kinds of comments about the recipe ranging from “the best chocolate chip cookie you’ll ever make” to “meh” to “this recipe is a disaster.”
Suffice it to say that I was intrigued. And since I love a salty chocolate cookie — like these Sea Salt Chocolate Chunk Bar Cookies (which are strikingly similar to Roman’s recipe, but in pan cookie form) — I figured I’d get in on the action.
I’m not one of those food bloggers who love to hack apart someone else’s recipe, but I did make a couple of changes in order to address what I found to be a common critique of Roman’s popular recipe: that the logs of dough are hard to slice. So, I did a couple of things: First, I chopped the chocolate a little more finely than the recipe suggested (like, into 1/4-inch pieces, max). Second, I skipped brushing an egg wash over the rolls of dough after I’d formed them, opting instead to simply roll the dough in turbinado sugar. And third, I chilled the dough slightly less time than indicated and then used a flat chef’s knife to slice the dough instead of a serrated edge. Of note, I did use the salted butter called for — usually a no-no in baking.
So what’s the deal with these internet-popular Salted Chocolate Chunk Shortbread cookies? I say: Hooray! They’re amazing. Make a batch and judge for yourself.
Alison Roman's Salted Chocolate Chunk Shortbread Cookies
makes about 40 cookies
1 cup + 2 Tablespoons salted butter, softened at room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup (lightly packed) brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
6 oz. good quality semi- or bittersweet chocolate, chopped into 1/8- to 1/4 inch chunks
Turbinado sugar for finishing
Flaky sea salt (like Maldon) for finishing
In the bowl of a stand mixer (or in a bowl using a hand mixer) whip the butter and sugars together until light and fluffy, 5–6 minutes. Stir in vanilla. Scrape down the bowl. Blending on low speed, mix in flour about 1/2 cup at a time (the dough is very stiff, and adding flour gradually helps keep it from whooshing out of the bowl and all over your countertop). On low speed, mix in chocolate chunks. Use a scraper to divide dough in half and place each half on a sheet of waxed paper. Use your hands to press (not roll) each portion into a log about 12 inches long by 2 inches in diameter. Sprinkle a bit of turbinado sugar on the paper and roll the log in it to coat the edges. Wrap each log in the paper and roll to form an even cylinder. Refrigerate dough for about 90 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350°; line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Working with one log of dough at a time, use a chef's knife to slice the dough into 1/2-inch thick rounds (place the fingers of your opposite hand on the end of the dough log to help keep the dough from crumbling). If the dough, crumbles, just form it back into a round. Place the rounds on the baking sheets fairly close together. Sprinkle with flaky sea salt. Place both baking sheets in the refrigerator for about 15 minutes before baking (this helps the cookies keep their shape). Bake cookies for about 12 minutes, rotating pans once halfway through baking time, until they're very lightly golden on the edges. Let cool. Cookies keep at room temperature for several days and freeze well.