It's the week before Valentine's Day...in my family this is a full-on week of baking! As our primary love language is food, we make all kinds of little goodies to give out to friends and take to school Valentine's parties. Can you guess what our star ingredient will be??? It's indisputably chocolate. You simply can't have Valentine's Day without it--or at least I can't! So this will be a week of chocolate baked goods. If you are not a big chocolate fan, maybe I can change your mind!
My favorite treats to bake are cookies. Perfectly sized little love offerings! There is one variety that tops them all for me--shortbread. They're rich and light, flaky and dense--yin and yang in dessert form. A tasty contradiction!
I make many varieties of shortbread: sea salt, rosemary and lavender, mint, shortbread thumb prints, cinnamon shortbread sandwich cookies... but for Valentine's week I made salty shortbread dipped in chocolate!
In my opinion, chocolate and salt belong together. In Valentine terms, they are "MTB," Meant To Be. Salt brings out the flavors of everything it's added to. So why would we leave it out of dessert?
All I really need is love, but a little chocolate now and then doesn't hurt!
Lucy Van Pelt in Peanuts by Charles M. Schulz
Chocolate Dipped Salty Shortbread
3 sticks unsalted butter, softened + ½ Tb. for chocolate
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
3 ¼ cup all purpose flour
½ tsp. salt + extra for sprinkling
6 oz. good chocolate
Preheat the oven to 350*. Using your electric mixer, cream the butter, sugar, and vanilla together until it is combined. Sift all the dry ingredients together. Turn the mixer on low, then add the dry mixture a little at a time, until the dough comes together.
Dump the dough onto a large sheet on plastic wrap, flatten into a disk, and wrap. Place in the fridge to chill for 30 minutes. Then roll the dough out on a very well floured surface. Roll until it is 1/3 of an inch thick.
Using a floured cookie cutter, cut out cookies and place on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet. Try to cut out as many as possible from the first sheet of dough. Each time you gather and re-roll the dough the cookies will get a little tougher!
Bake for 20 minutes--until barely golden. Remove from the oven and immediately sprinkle with sea salt. Allow the cookies to cool completely.
Set a glass bowl above a small pan with about 1 inch of water. Heat the pan to medium. Place broken chocolate pieces and ½ Tb. butter in the bowl. Stir as chocolate melts.
Remove the bowl from the pan. Dip each cookie half way in the chocolate. Use a spatula to scrape excess chocolate off the back.
Place on wax paper or a wire rack. Allow to cool and harden. If you need the chocolate to set faster, place in the fridge for 15 minutes.
Store in an air-tight container. Makes 20-24.