Chocolate Shortbread Hearts

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This is genuinely one of the best cookie recipes ever. In fact, it might be my favorite cookie I’ve ever baked. I found the recipe last year on the blog Two Peas & Their Pod and made them to take to a Saturday class I had on Valentine’s Day. They’re amazing! Made with Dutch cocoa (the pricey stuff) and dipped in semi-sweet chocolate at the end (with some cute sprinkles), they look gorgeous and taste phenomenal. I made them again this year to take to a meeting at work and they were a huge hit (my officemate ate another three after the meeting since the leftovers were sitting in the office — they’re that good). David & I are working our way through the last few now…and I miiiight make another batch on Sunday.

I made only one edit to the original recipe, which I’ll share later.

Also, I know the Dutch cocoa is pricey but I really think it makes the difference — these babies are so chocolatey and lack that occasional bitterness/sourness that chocolate cookies sometimes have. I bought a box of Dutch cocoa last year for this recipe and very slowly used it up over the course of the year, running out only last month. If you want to, you can sub in regular cocoa powder, but I’ve never tried that so I can’t speak for their flavor. Anyway, without further ado : chocolate shortbread hearts.

Ingredients:
2 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup Dutch cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 of a big bar of semisweet baking chocolate, melted
Sprinkles

Directions:
Sift the flour, cocoa and salt together into a mixing bowl

sifting-cocoa-and-flour
my new sifter! we finally found a “crank” style one, which I greatly prefer. also note the dutch cocoa box

In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together the butter (room temp!) and sugar until light & fluffy. Add vanilla extract and mix. Gradually add in the flour mixture, occasionally stopping the mixer and scraping down the sides of the bowl. Mix until it forms into a ball of dough (for a while, it may appear piecey or crumbly, but keep mixing and it will combine). (Note: Whenever I am gradually adding a mixture this way, I use one of the measuring cups I’ve just dirtied with flour or cocoa powder or whatever to scoop it up and add it gradually. It’s an easy way to ensure you don’t accidentally add too much at once, and I don’t dirty any extra dishes.)

Lay out two sheets of waxed paper on a baking sheet, set the dough between, and roll it out to about one-quarter inch, trying to keep it even.

Place rolled-out dough in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Remove dough from the oven and slide off the baking sheet. Line two baking sheets with silpats or parchment paper. Cut out the cookies with a cookie cutter (I used a heart because Valentine’s Day, but you can use whatever! If you don’t have any cookie cutters, use an upside-down glass or jar). Arrange cookies on baking sheets. (Note : because the dough is chilled, the cookies hardly spread at all so don’t worry too much about that.)

cutting-out-cookies
lovely heart-shaped beauties, awaiting the oven

If the oven still isn’t heated (like my crappy apartment oven), place the trays of cookies back in the fridge to keep them chilled. Once the damn thing has heated up…

Bake the cookies for 15 minutes.

Let cookies cool on baking sheets for two minutes and then transfer to a wire cooling rack (I find a slim metal spatula to be best for the transfer) to cool completely.

While cookies are cooling, melt chocolate! The recipe calls for chocolate chips but I prefer semi-sweet chocolate as I think it melts more evenly. I chopped an entire bar of semisweet chocolate, but I had more than I needed — three-quarters of a bar should do it if you’re only dipping corners like I did.

baking-bar
this is what I mean by a baker’s bar of chocolate. I always have lots of baking chocolate around because uh…that’s how I make hot chocolate, I melt baking chocolate into milk and cream. future post?

To melt the chocolate you can use a microwave I imagine, but I don’t have one so I do it on the stove. I also don’t have a double-boiler — I chop the chocolate (baker’s chocolate sort of splinters as you chop so it’s really easy to chop it finely) and pour it into a Pyrex measuring cup, then set that in a saucepan of simmering water, like so :

melting-chocolate
I stir a bunch with this adorable tiny spoon.

Next it’s decorating time! I removed the measuring cup from the water and wiped the bottom dry, then set it on my table. Then I set up a little station : plate with several cooled cookies, spinkle-shaker, and a tray with wax paper on it. For each cookie I dipped a corner in melted chocolate, wiped off drips with the small spoon, sprinkled it with sprinkles, and set it on the wax paper to cool.

final-product
TA-DA!

Not only are these cookies unbelievably delicious — flaky texture, super chocolate taste, and a burst of extra chocolate where they’ve been dipped — but they are cute as heck and you will get showered in compliments if you manage to show anyone else the cookies. And if you just stay home and eat them yourself, you will feel a rush of pride whenever you briefly glimpse its beauty before shoving it right into your mouth. YUM.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

 

Go-To Easy-Peasy Brownies from Life, Love, and Sugar

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I found these brownies last year when I was looking for a way to make “box mix” brownies from scratch. I know, I know…why not just make box mix brownies then? I suppose because I like to make things harder for myself — but also because I truly enjoy baking, and it’s just not as satisfying to combine a mix with two eggs and some water. Where’s the challenge in that?

ooh, so many ingredients, so much challenge, I like challenge so much I could be a Triwizard Champion
ooh, so many ingredients, so much challenge

Anyway, I came across this recipe for Quick and Easy Brownies on Pinterest. The recipe is from Lindsay, who blogs at www.lifeloveandsugar.com. Lindsay posts TONS of beautiful, drool-inducing recipes — I keep meaning to try another one, but what always happens is this : I look at the many gorgeous recipes and get overwhelmed and unable to choose, and then I think, why not just make the brownies, though? I already know those are perfect… and thus, I never try anything new. But one of these days!

This is a two-bowl recipe. In one bowl, you combine the wet ingredients (plus sugar), and in another, the dry.

Then you mix them all together…pour them in a pan…and pop them in the oven. It’s quick and fun to put together, and SO CHOCOLATELY. The aroma from the oven while they are baking is phenomenal and just makes you more excited for them to be done.

Ingredients:
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 eggs
3/4 cup flour
1/3 cup & 2 1/2 tablespoons cocoa*
1/4 teaspoon & 1/8 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350* and butter a 9 x 9 baking pan (butter it well, or these guys will stick)
Mix the oil, sugar, and vanilla extract
Add in the three eggs and mix well
In a separate bowl, stir together the flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt
Add the dry ingredients to the wet in several installments until well combined**
Pour the batter into prepared pan. It’s a very wet batter, so it should spread evenly all on its own
Place pan in 350* oven for approximately ?? minutes (the original recipe states 25 – 30 minutes, but that was totally off for me, and judging by the comments, for a lot of other people too. originally I set an alarm for 25 minutes and then checked with a toothpick every five or ten minutes. in my oven, they end up taking 50 minutes.)

* Lindsay’s recipe calls for dark chocolate cocoa powder (like Hershey’s Special Dark). I have made it with both dark and regular cocoa powder and they both turned out great, but the dark cocoa powder had a stronger chocolate flavor. Don’t worry if you only have regular cocoa around, though, it’s still very chocolatey!
** By “several installments,” I mean that I added some dry ingredients, mixed until combined, and then added a bit more. I repeated this “add, mix, add” cycle three times, as opposed to dumping all the dry ingredients at once. This makes things a bit easier on you and also helps ensure that the ingredients are better combined and there aren’t any clumps of dry ingredients in the batter.

This is definitely a go-to recipe for me when I’m craving chocolate or we want to have a special dessert and I haven’t planned ahead. I always have the ingredients on hand, it’s quick, and the brownies are so good. I definitely encourage you to go check out Lindsay’s blog for more baking ideas — I know I’m intrigued by the Apple Cinnamon Skillet Blondie (!), No-Bake Oreo Cheesecake, and this Blackberry Champagne Bellini recipe (and no, that’s not a baking recipe…but I am intrigued by it).

Have a great weekend, and I hope you enjoy the recipe if you try it!

I am a corner-piece person.
I am a corner-piece person.