Confession: I changed one of Grandma’s recipes. Grandma’s Chocolate Peppermint Shortbread are a riff on a chocolate topped shortbread that my Grandma Cay used to make. She topped hers with chopped nuts, but I couldn’t resist topping mine with crushed candy canes. I saved the nuts for her Rum Balls instead!
As I’m writing this series of my grandmothers’ Christmas cookie recipes, I’m realizing that almost all of the recipes have nuts. Clearly no one in our family had a nut allergy!
Grandma’s shortbread squares appeared every Christmas, and next to her Rum Balls, they were my favorite cookie to enjoy at her house. Side note: she also let us make our own chocolate milk with ALL the Hershey’s syrup. We could even drink it with dinner if we wanted!
I took her shortbread base and topped it with chocolate chips just like she did. But then I topped it with crushed candy canes (instead of chopped nuts) to create Chocolate Peppermint Shortbread. I can’t resist the combination of chocolate and peppermint this time of year. It might be the second best chocolate pairing of all time. The first, of course, is peanut butter and chocolate.
The dough for Chocolate Peppermint Shortbread is a basic shortbread. It comes out of the mixer quite crumbly, looking a little too dry to be cookie dough. This is ok! We just pat it into the pan and send it to the oven to bake. It comes out a beautiful almost-golden brown.
After a sprinkle of chocolate chips and another minute in the oven to melt them, we get to use one of my favorite kitchen tools: the offset spatula. I use my small, 4.5 inch offset spatula the most. Its small size means I can get into the corners of the pan easily. It creates smooth lines and/or beautiful swirls with a just a little practice. I use it most often for frosting, but also for nudging stubborn cake batter or dough into the corners of a pan. It’s a cheap little tool that I find myself using every time that I bake.
For the topping, I crushed candy canes in my food processor. Some parts turned to powder and other parts to little chunks. You could also do it the old fashioned way: put the candy canes in a zip-top bag, and whack them with a rolling pin. This avoids having to clean the food processor (one of my most dreaded things to clean in the kitchen).
This recipe for Chocolate Peppermint Shortbread is part of a collection of six Christmas cookie recipes from my grandmothers. You can find the other recipes here!
Grandma's Chocolate Peppermint Shortbread
Yield 16 squares
- ½ cup butter
- ⅓ cup sugar
- ½ teaspoon vanilla
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1¼ cup flour
- 1 cup (about 6 oz) semi-sweet chocolate chips
- 2 candy canes, crushed (I used a food processor)
- Preheat oven to 375°F. Place the butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer. Beat on high until light and fluffy, about 3–4 minutes. Add the vanilla and salt. Beat until combined. Slowly add the flour, beating after each addition. The mixture will be crumbly.
- Pour the mixture into an 8x8 inch pan. Use your fingers to press the dough into the pan evenly.
- Bake for 18–20 minutes, or until the top is barely beginning to brown.
- Remove from the oven and sprinkle the chocolate chips evenly over the top. Return to the oven for 1 minute.
- Remove and use an offset spatula to spread the chocolate chips evenly. Sprinkle with crushed candy canes.
- Allow to cool before cutting into squares.
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