Chocolate Nut Shortbread
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have yet to meet a shortbread I didn't like and this Chocolate Nut Shortbread is no exception.
It is a delicious combination of buttery shortbread topped with chunks of
toasted nuts and chocolate. The
great thing about shortbread is that it is simple to make, and while using an
electric or hand mixer makes quick work of this process, you can just as easily
mix the ingredients by hand in a large bowl with a wooden spoon. One
noticeable difference with this recipe is that it is formed into a round,
without the use of a tart or cake pan, giving the edges of the shortbread a
rough and casual look.
Chopped toasted nuts along with
pieces of chocolate (or chocolate chips) are then pressed into the shortbread. You can use a single nut or a combination (hazelnuts, pecans, walnuts, almonds,
or pine nuts) and the chocolate can be semisweet, bittersweet, milk, or white.
The secret to making good shortbread is to use a high quality butter and pure
vanilla extract. While I have mentioned the following information under the
Shortbread Cookie recipe I think it bares repeating here. Butter in the States is
graded according to flavor, color, texture, aroma and body and one easy way to tell the
quality of the butter is by the letter code or numerical number listed on the
butter's package. The highest grade is AA (93 score), then A (92 score),
followed by B (90 score). Buying vanilla extract can also be a challenge
as there are so many choices. The first
thing to do is to make sure that it is labeled "pure". The
best I have found, although it is quite expensive, is Nielsen-Massey Madagascar
Bourbon Pure Vanilla Extract that can be found in specialty food stores and by
mail order. If your budget doesn't allow this expenditure or you cannot
find it, don't worry, there are quality brands to be found in your local grocery
store. Just stay away from the ones labeled "imitation" vanilla extracts
as they are made with synthetic
vanilla (from glycoside found in the sapwood of certain conifers or from coal
extracts) and leave a bitter aftertaste.
Chocolate Nut Shortbread: Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C) with the rack in
the middle of the oven. Have ready a baking sheet that is either buttered
or lined with parchment paper.
In the bowl of your electric mixer (or with a hand mixer), beat the butter and sugar
until smooth (about 2 minutes). Beat in the vanilla extract.
In a separate
bowl whisk together the all purpose flour, rice flour, and salt. Add
this mixture to the butter and sugar mixture and beat just until incorporated.
Transfer the dough
to the baking sheet and form into an 8 1/2 inch (21
cm) round. Gently press the
chopped nuts and chopped chocolate into the dough.
the preheated oven and bake until it is golden brown, about 20 to 25 minutes.
Cool completely on a wire rack.
toast pecans, walnuts, and almonds -
Spread on a baking sheet and bake in a 350 degree F (180 degree C)
oven for about 8 to 10 minutes. The nuts are done when they are light
golden-brown in color and
fragrant. Cool completely
before using. To toast
hazelnuts - Spread on a baking sheet and bake in a 350 degree F (180 degree C)
oven for about 15 minutes
or until fragrant and the skins begin to flake.
Remove from oven and place the hot nuts in a dish towel. Roll up the towel
and let the nuts sit (steam) for a few minutes then rub the nuts in the towel
briskly to remove the skins. Let cool before using. (Toasting the
hazelnuts not only removes the bitter skins but also enhances the sweet, rich,
buttery flavor of the nut.)
Chocolate Nut Shortbread
1/2 cup (1 stick) (113 grams)
unsalted butter, room temperature
1/4 cup (50 grams) granulated white
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup (130 grams) all-purpose
2 tablespoons (15 grams) rice flour or cornstarch (corn flour)
1/8 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup (80 grams) toasted and chopped nuts
(hazelnuts, pecans, walnuts, or almonds) (See Note)
1 ounce (35 grams) coarsely chopped semisweet,
bittersweet, milk, or white chocolate (can also use chocolate chips)