Slice and bake cookies are some of my favorites for gift-giving or other occasions that require large quantities of portable desserts. You can plan ahead, make a bunch of dough, shape it into cylinders (or in this case, squared-off logs), and freeze them until you’re ready– then just slice and bake!
I actually made these for last year’s holiday season, but never got around to posting about them until now. Never fear, though– these really are delicious, and they only improve with age! I got the recipe from the incomparable Alice Medrich, and her book (a must-read for any real chocolate lover) Bittersweet. It’s one of my very favorite chocolate recipe books, particularly as it gives specific instructions as to how to modify a recipe for use with different-percentage dark chocolates.
Anyway, these cookies are crisp, crumbly, and have an amazing background flavor and warmth that only increases as the cookies age on the counter. At first bite it’s almost like a standard pecan shortbread, but then the cocoa nibs come through with a delicate chocolate flavor that will leave people wondering what your secret ingredient is. So, without further ado, here’s the recipe!
Cocoa Nib and Pecan Shortbread (from Alice Medrich’s Bittersweet)
3 1/2 ounces pecans
8 ounces butter, room temperature
5 1/4 ounces granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/3 cup cocoa nibs
10 ounces all-purpose flour
1. Toast the pecans on a cookie sheet at 325 degrees F for about 8 minutes until they are dark brown and fragrant. Let cool and chop into small pieces.
2. Beat the butter, sugar, salt, and vanilla in a stand mixer on medium speed until smooth and creamy, about 1-2 minutes.
3. Add in the nibs and pecans and combine.
4. Add in the flour and combine carefully on low speed just until the flour is incorporated.
5. Turn the dough out onto a piece of parchment and shape into a square log about 2 inches in diameter and about 12 inches long.
6. Wrap the log of dough in parchment and chill in the refrigerator for a couple of hours, preferably overnight.
7. When you are ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line baking sheets with parchment paper.
8. Slice log into 1/4″ slices and place on baking sheets about 2″ apart. Bake for 12-14 minutes, rotating halfway. The edges will be pale golden.
Remove cookies from the oven and let cool on sheets for about a minute before transferring to wire racks to finish cooling.
Store these up to 2 weeks in an airtight container. The flavor will actually improve over the first few days– they probably freeze well too!