Never before have I fallen in love with a side cookie like this. In fact, it quickly moved from being a side cookie to the main attraction in my mind.
But what is a side cookie, you ask?
A side cookie comes on the side of a dessert. You know, the dessert – a crème brûlée, a pot de crème, a mousse – is supposed to be the star, with a little cookie on the side, almost as an afterthought.
I discovered this little side cookie one fateful Friday night at Lucy's in the Square restaurant. My husband had ordered the crème brûlée, and there, sitting on the side, was a lovely dark chocolate heart of a cookie.
I bit into it and tasted salt. It was exactly what I wanted after a good dinner: a few bites of dark-chocolate-salty goodness.
Now when we go to Lucy’s, I just ask for the side cookie as my dessert. It’s all I want.
After a few months, eating it at the restaurant wasn’t enough. I needed a home supply.
And here we are: a crisp shortbread that almost shatters on the bite, then melts into dark chocolate with a nip of salt on the tongue.
This is no side cookie. It has become a star – or a pumpkin or a leaf or an apple, since I thought fall shapes would be more appropriate right now.
The dough is incredibly easy to work with. You can whip them up in 15 minutes, chill them for 20, bake them for 12 . . . and be eating salted chocolate shortbread in an hour. See if you think this is a mere side cookie.
salted chocolate shortbread
bakes about 20 wee cookies
1/3 c. cocoa
1/3. c. cornstarch, and more to dust the cookie cutters
3/4 c. brown rice flour
1/2 tsp. xanthan or guar gum
1 tsp. sea salt, and more to sprinkle
1/2 c. icing or confectioner’s sugar
3/4 c. butter
Prepare a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
Stir the cocoa, cornstarch, brown rice flour, xanthan gum and salt together to form one flour.
Pour the icing sugar into another bowl and cut in the butter. Blend well. Add the flour mixture and keep mixing until it all clumps together. (I like using a stand mixer for this part.) This might take a bit of time, but have faith: it will start clumping.
Place a piece of parchment paper on the counter. Gather the dough into a ball and put it on the parchment paper. Cover that with a piece of plastic wrap. Use a rolling pin over the plastic wrap to roll the dough out to about 1/4 inch (1/2 centimetre) thickness. Peel off the plastic wrap.
Pour a couple tablespoons of cornstarch in a small bowl. Dip the cookie cutters in the bowl to keep them from sticking to the dough. Cut out shapes and put them on the prepared pan. Repeat, until you’ve used up all the dough.
Sprinkle sea salt over the cookies. Chill in the fridge for at least 20 minutes.
Heat the oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit.
Bake for 12 to 13 minutes. (They may not seem done, but they are.)
Leave the cookies on the pan, but place the pan on a rack. These just-baked cookies are too delicate to move until they have cooled and set. Once they have cooled, they will happily keep their form.