Salted Chocolate Shortbread Cookies
The sweet and salty taste phenomenon has soared to new levels over the last couple of years. What was once depicted only in chocolate-covered pretzels has taken on a life all its own. Something about the sensation of smooth sweetness with a lingering, salty bite on the tongue is irresistible for many. It has given rise to things like Chubby Hubby Ice Cream, Pretzel M&Ms, salted caramel everything, and oodles more. A favorite I discovered quite a few years ago is chocolate-covered popcorn. I salivate just thinking about it. Like a lot of people I’ve always devoured chocolate-covered pretzels, but what got me diving head-first into the sweet/salty craze was salted caramel. I first had it in the form of frosting on a cupcake earlier this year and now I think that salted anything is pure heaven.
These cookies sneak the sweet/salty combination since it’s not overly obvious from looking at them that they’re salty. The tang of salt on the tongue when you take your first bite is unexpected, but much like a John Mayer/Taylor Swift duet – the unexpected quickly turns out to be surprisingly delightful.
These cookies are called “world peace cookies” in Dorie Greenspan’s Baking: From My Home to Yours and is a recipe that originated with Pierre Herme. One of Dorie’s neighbors was convinced that if everyone got to enjoy these cookies on a daily basis then peace and happiness would prevail. He is really on to something. I don’t know about the universe, but these cookies sure make my little corner of the world brighter and more peaceful! Not only are these cookies delicious as baked below, but if you feel the need to stash some of the dough in the refrigerator or freezer for an “emergency”, the cold dough is just as good (would it be a sin if I said better?) as the baked version. I may have ended up with less cookies than intended due to sneaking pieces of just-mixed dough, and then thin slices (that’s how I justified it, albeit there ended up being many thin slices) of the cold dough straight from the fridge.
The original recipe for these calls for chocolate chips/chunks to be added, but I wasn’t sure about that, plus I thought a little extra salt would be nice, so I did some experimenting. I divided the dough into four and made a slightly different version for each: one was made plain – no chocolate chips and no extra salt; two was made plain with extra sea salt sprinkled on top; three had chocolate chips but no extra salt; and four had chocolate chips and extra salt. The clear winner for me is the recipe I have written below, which is the plain cookie with a bit of extra salt sprinkled on top. I didn’t think the chips were necessary, and made cutting the log a bit more difficult, and that extra punch of salt on top really takes these cookies over the edge.
What’s your favorite sweet/salty dessert or snack?
One year ago: The Signature Salad
Two years ago: Black-and-White Banana Loaf
Three years ago: Perfectly Chocolate Cake and Frosting
Salted Chocolate Shortbread Cookies
- 1¼ cups (156.25 g) all-purpose flour
- ⅓ cup (28.67 g) unsweetened cocoa powder
- ½ teaspoon (0.5 teaspoon) baking soda
- 1 stick (113 g) plus 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature, (11 tablespoons)
- ⅔ cup (146.67 g) light brown sugar
- ¼ cup (50 g) granulated sugar
- ½ teaspoon (0.5 teaspoon) fleur de sel or ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt, plus extra for sprinkling
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1. Whisk together the flour, cocoa and baking soda in a small bowl; set aside.
- 2. Beat the butter on medium speed until soft and creamy. Add both sugars, the salt and vanilla extract and beat for 2 minutes more.
- 3. With the mixer off, add the dry ingredients. Turn the mixer on and off low speed (pulse) for a second or two about 5 times so that the flour mixture gets incorporated. Then mix on low speed for about 30 seconds, just until the flour disappears into the dough (the dough will look crumbly).
- 4. Turn the dough out onto a work surface and divide it in two. Shape each half into a 9-inch log. Wrap the logs in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 3 hours. (The dough can be refrigerated up to 3 days or frozen for up to 2 months. If you've frozen the dough, you don't need to defrost before baking - just slice the logs into cookies and baking the cookies 1 minute longer.)
- 5. Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment or silicone mats.
- 6. Using a sharp thin knife, slice the logs into rounds that are ½-inch thick. Arrange the rounds on the baking sheets, leaving about 1 inch between them. Sprinkle a small amount of extra salt on top of each round.
- 7. Bake the cookies one sheet at a time for 12 minutes - they won't look done, and won't be firm, but that's how they should be. Transfer the baking sheet to a cooling rack and let the cookies rest until they are only just warm, at which point you can serve them or let them reach room temperature. Store the cookies in an airtight container at room temperature.
Did you make this recipe?
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These cookies are too awesome for words! Friends often ask if I have any plans to make more, thereby assuring another batch that evening.
The best gluten-free version so far uses Teff flour (the brown variety) one-for-one in the original recipe.
For special occasions, double-stacked cookies with a chocolate ganache filling are off the chart!
Hi. :) “Yield: 36 dozen cookies” must be a typo for 1¼ C. flour, lol. I’m thinking 3 doz / 36 cookies is probably what was meant? I thought you might appreciate a heads up. Thanks very much for the recipe. I’m about to bake some and I can tell by the proportions in the recipe they’re going to be amazing! Happy Holidays & vive le chocolate! 😁❤️✌️
I love this recipe. It is in every holiday gift I give, and along with thumbprint cookies, always the favorites! Using fleur de sel is best, but a bit of ground pink salt works well too. Thanks for the beautiful recipe!
Best cookies ever! I make them often!I’m making them along with molasses cookies for a different kind of Thanksgiving dessert!
I assume when you say it makes “36 dozen” cookies – you mean it makes 3 dozen (or 36) cookies!
I’d be very impressed if you got 36 dozen out of that amount of dough! : ) Looking forward to giving this recipe a try!
These are really dangerous.
I just made these cookies and the dough was too crumbly to even shape the logs. I am thinking maybe its because I live in a dry climate at high elevation. I wish I would have read the comments before I started. Oh well. I will try the butter whipping for 10 minutes and maybe adding a little milk too. I wonder if you could add some tips to the original post for those of us that get a dry dough? Just a thought. The flavor was really amazing but they did not cook up well due to the dryness. Thanks for sharing. I will give them another try.
Oh my GOSH, these are awesome. Just in case anyone else is inclined to do it this way: instead of slicing, I rolled them into tablespoon-sized balls, then flattened with a drinking glass; they required 15 minutes’ baking time in order to achieve the texture you describe. SO. STINKING. GOOD.
Love these cookies! I have a question though — the first 2 batches I made were amazing and wonderful, but recently, my dough has been totally falling apart! I can’t think I’ve been doing anything differently, and I have no clue what’s going on! Do you have any suggestions? Has this ever happened to you?
Hi Rona, If you’ve made these with success and haven’t changed anything, it might be due to a difference in the air. When air is drier, baked goods will be less hydrated. You might try adding just a splash of milk to see if that helps.
I very rarely leave comments on a recipe, but I had to on this one. Oh my God!! These were SO good!! I made a triple batch to give out for Christmas. I ate at least two cookies from each tray, and had to force myself to stop so I would have enough to give away.Thanks for a true keeper!
Just made these today and my only regret is that I didn’t quadruple the batch. Amazing. And will be part of the regular rotation from now on. Thanks.
I put an egg yolk in these, took out 1 tbsp of butter & put baking power in instead of baking soda. All I can say is bravo. Truly satisfying!!
I make these cookies in quadruple batches, and use a well-blended chocolate ganache, assemble double-stack versions with a dollop of ganache on the top. They are magic!
Hi, thank you so much for sharing these wonderful recipes! Do these cookies come in gluten free? Or do you have any gluten free recipes for shortbread cookies? I tried to search however was unsuccessful. Thank you!!
Hi Heidi, Unfortunately I don’t have a gluten-free shortbread recipe, but if I come across one I will share it!
I have made these using a GF AP flour. They are a hit with my gluten-intolerant friends.
I’ve made these cookies twice now and just as the recipe states. no additions or alterations and these cookies are so good! I always get rave reviews when I make them. I also love that I can make the dough and freeze it and have a chocolate cookie whenever I have a really bad chocolate craving.
These are soooo sinful and dangerously delicious! They are a new favorite. Oh my! Thank you so much for sharing!
I modified it a tiny bit because I felt like experimenting. I only had coarse sea salt and had to grind it, so I added a tiny bit of cayenne, nutmeg and cinnamon to it while I did so.
Then I added a dash of Angostura bitters to the dough.
Went beautifully with a glass of Bourbon.
OH NO! My first bad outcome since I’ve been using your recipes. I don’t know what could have happened. I’m a really good baker and I’ve tried lots of the recipes I’ve seen here with great success. I just took my batch out of the oven and they totally flattened out like a bubbly mess! I’m so upset!
Wonderful recipe! I made it for our annual Christmas cookie exchange and was asked for the recipe by all who tasted these. I, too, initially had trouble with the consistency of the batter. (i.e. too crumbly) But I took a friend’s advice and really whipped up the butter and sugar before adding the other ingredients (for about 10 minutes!). That seemed to do the trick for me! During the next year I’m going to search for some of that pink sea salt for sprinking. . . that should be a great touch! Thanks very much for sharing this.
These cookies were nothing but crumbs for me :( I baked them but ofcourse they are really crumbly… they taste good though! If I mixed the batter until it looked like batter and not crumbs, do you think they would still work?
Well, the dough SHOULD be crumbly when you mix it, but when you press it into a log, you should be pressing it together so it’s cohesive. I hope that helps!
Hi! I just came across your site last week and i’ve tried making these cookies already! i had the same problem – very difficult to shape because the dough was basically crumbs. I lost quite a bit of it as loose crumbs scattering everywhere on my work surface…
But i just read the other comments, so i guess if you haven’t other suggestions, i’ll try to whip the butter for 10 minutes before proceeding!
Btw, the amount of granulated sugar in the recipe just say “¼” without units. I used ¼cup, and it tasted fine. Thought i’d let you know to avoid your readers guessing!
Thank you for the heads up, I will edit that! I hope you have a better go of it the second time around!
I’ve been eyeing the World Peace Cookies in my Dorie Greenspan cookbook but have yet to try the recipe. After reading your revised version I think I’ll have to try that out instead. I absolutely love the idea of sprinkling some salt on top – that seems like a great way to make these cookies stand out. I think I just found the newest addition to my yearly Christmas cookie baking spree.
hi, i made these for my holiday cookies this year and they’re out of the world. consider me your new biggest (especially after eating these) fan.
Okay, so I made these again. Guilty as charged :D
This time, I rolled the dough out to 1/2 inch thickness and then refridgerated for 3 hours or more. Then, I used my Christmas tree cookie cutter and put it to good use. The shape got a tiny bit distorted as the cookie spread in the oven, but it was still really good. The fleur de sel looked like snowflakes on the tree :)
Next time, I’ll roll the dough out and cut the tree shapes before refridgerating. That way, maybe the shape will stay perfect in the oven!
Oh, and this baking session was for a Christmas give-away… we do a huge family party at a banquet hall every Christmas. I baked these and put them in little Christmas take out containers from Michael’s, along with my aunt’s delicious Christmas fruit cake. Made about 141 cookies :)
I was looking for some interesting cookies to bake up for my dad’s birthday. Just something for guests to nibble on with some tea as they arrived and chit chatted.
I found your salted shortbread recipe and, honestly, didn’t want to continue searching. Made these and have one word for you – divine!!!!! Absolutely divine!!! So that’s three words but who’s counting :D :D
They were soooo good warm out of the oven, and justtt as amazing after they cooled down. Oh, and I sprinkled salt on all of them, but topped some with chopped pistachios, and some with chopped walnuts. They were good :D Love the bit of salt on top!
Thank you so much for putting up such great pictures too. They make me want to bake and eat… and eat and bake some more :D
Oh gosh I love the idea of sprinkling with chopped pistachios! Thank you so much for sharing and happy birthday to your dad!
These sound absolutely scrumptious! Can’t wait to try them.
Did you see these were in Bon Appetit this month? I had just made yours – with the salt – and was leafing through the magazine.
I will be making these soon. One question — do you need to pack the brown sugar?
Yes, as a general rule of thumb, if you’re using measuring cups to measure out brown sugar it is always best to lightly pack it. I always use a scale so I typically just spoon it into the bowl and let the scale do the work!
These cookies look amazing… I love salty sweet treats, so I’ll have to add them to my must-bake list!
I made these with gluten free flour, and they still turned out to be super delicious!
I always tend to put a bit of coarse salt in with by chocolate cookie dough – it just tastes better that way! These look lovely – I’m sure we’d just eat all the frozen dough though.
These cookies could indeed be responsible for a great step forward in world peace. What a wonderful combination of flavors!
This is one of my favourite cookie recipes! Dark and handsome (not unlike a good man).
I recently received some chocolates with sea salt on them as a gift. At first I was skeptical, but one bite had me hooked. These I am sure are amazing!
Love the sweet and salty combo, although I would guess if I have to choose, maybe salted caramel. I just LOVE it!
These sound totally wonderful. I loved salted sweets…got to make these!
I finally made these cookies a couple of months ago. Don’t know why it took me so long! They were amazing. I am definitely going to have to try your adaptation! I think having the extra salt would be HEAVENLY.
These look amazing. I have to try these. I have the original recipe from Dorie Greenspan (I get her blog delivered to my mailbox) and never gave it a try. Now i have to. Geez…these pictures are making me hungry and I just ate 2 slices of homemade pizza and a homemade ice cream sandwich (which came out weird but delicious). Your blog is an inspiration. Everything looks so good.
These look easy to make because you have salt choice. I had to review a sweet & salty cookbook once which used only one type of salt per recipe and a lot of them were very difficult to find even in my international university town.
Wow, I don’t think I’ve ever had chocolate shortbread, but I think you’ve inspired me. These cookies look delicious.
Salty and sweet is the best combo ever! These cookies look yummy!
i’ve always wanted to try a salty cookie… here’s my chance. thanks! and i love the taylor swift/john mayer reference. hilarious. :)
Love salted sweets, my absolute favorite trend in baking. I look forward to more recipes like this. Can you make a salted caramel cookie?
What a great twist on the original! I love the idea of adding a little salt on top. I also do that with my chocolate chip cookies. Love!
I went straight home and made these last night! Loved how easy they were to put together and umm.. they were awesome. We couldn’t wait for them to cool completely, just ate them warm off the pan. Will have to see how a cooled one is today :)
These look seriously moorish. I just love the look. Do they taste as wonderful as they look? I am sure they do. Im a massive fan of salty sweet! Perfect treat….
Shortbread is one of my all time favorite cookies…I’ve always been on the salty/sweet wagon.. in high school we used to get the Otis Spunkmeyer cookies and sprinkle them with salt and I must admit one of my secret snacks is wheat thins and frosting! Don’t knock it till you try it :)
Salty sweet things are so good together! These cookies look divine, the perfect afternoon snack!
salt is becoming so trendy, like shark week! i guess i need to find some good stuff ;) i WISH everyone in the world would eat these; we need some more peace in brasil :)
I too, love the sweet and salty combination. I’ve made Dorie’s cookies with the chocolate chips, but wasn’t imaginative enough to try them without. Per your recommendation, that may be next!
Nothing better than the yin and yang of sweet and salty!!! Those look divine!
I’m all over the sweet and salty thing!! NEED to make!! ASAP!
Just made this recipe for dessert. EXCELLENT!!!
Everything you make looks perfect! I’d devour that cookie if I had one in my hand right now.
For a great salty/sweet treat try Dark Chocolate Blackout Popcorn from the Pittsburgh Popcorn Company. You can’t go wrong with Dark Chocolate covered Kettle Corn! It is a specialty flavor so they don’t carry it every week but it is worth the trip the week it is on the menu.
Sounds awesome and decadent!
These photos are gorgeous!! I can’t believe you held out eating them in order to actually snap them.
That picture made my mouth water! Oh, how I wish I could try these.
Love the sweet and salty combo! My husband and I made salted chocolate caramels a few months back and they were a huge hit!
I make a salted chocolate chip cookie that is out-of-this-world good. I’m a bit unusual with my baking in that I rarely eat what I bake, but those cookies (and your peanut butter oatmeal chocolate chip) are the rare exception. I could eat them until I made myself sick – warmed first in the microwave, they are better than any cookie should legally be.
I’ve made these before too and they are so good! I didn’t even think about fleur de sel…brilliant!
My husband still hasn’t come around to the idea of sweet-and-salty desserts, but I’m workin’ on him! This lovely recipe gives me yet another chance to try him. I’m sure he’d love these!
These cookies look SO DELICIOUS!! Great pics and thanks for sharing!
Total yum. Salty, sweet. Sneak-a-licious.
Salt and chocolate is such a wonderful combination. I actually had a couple of these cookies baked by Dorie herself when she set up a lil pop shop in NYC and they were amazing.
I’m completely on board with the sweet/salty combos. Your conclusions sound like what I would have come up with, so thanks for doing the testing for us. These will look fantastic on a cookie plate too!
Those look divine. That Dorie Greenspan cookbook is on the top of my list… I just need to order it already. :)
pure genius :) salted chocolate and salted caramel are new favorite obsessions of mine!
I love sweet/salty combinations. You cookies sound delicious. I think my favorite sweet/salty dessert is chocolate truffles with coarse sea salt. Yum! I have also heard of bacon brownies. Sounds odd, but good!
Awesome post and AMAZING recipe!! I stumbled ya!
I agree cookies do make to world a better place! These sound great , I’m going to make them today . Thanks for sharing another great recipe !