I’ve been on a hiatus from posting going on a few weeks now. There has been so much going on over here that my mind hasn’t been in the recipe writing mode. I really cannot stand those days(or weeks), ugh!
The great news is, though? I found out this past week that I’m going to be an Aunt! How awesome is that?! I’m so excited! I could not have asked for a better way to ring in February(which is usually the worst month of winter here; way cold and so much rain and snow!).
Since Valentine’s Day is coming up this Sunday, I have every excuse to include chocolate upon chocolate in these shortbread cookies. It’s pretty hard for me to avoid using chocolate in everything I bake, can you tell?
But seriously, things got real here in my kitchen and shortbread cookies got an upgrade! You’re bound to win someone’s heart with these things. Though, besides the heart shape, they don’t look at all festive; but really, all that matters is that they include a ton of chocolate and toffee popcorn piled on top, right? Right.
Toffee Popcorn + Chocolate = Heaven pretty much for me. Even though these cookies may take a little time to put together, they’re not at all difficult. They’re worth every minute you put into them. Oh, and hopefully all that toffee popcorn makes its way onto the cookies and not into your stomach. I may have had a little difficulty with that rule…
- 2 tablespoons dutch-process cocoa powder (can use Hershey's Special Dark cocoa)
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar
- 8 ounces bitter-sweet chocolate, chopped
- 2 cups popcorn (I used store-bought, but you can pop your own if desired)
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup salted butter (2 sticks), cubed
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla
- In a mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, and cocoa. Set aside.
- With an electric mixer or a wooden spoon, beat the butter and sugar together till light and fluffy. This part is crucial to how the shortbread will turn out, make sure the butter is soft enough, but not melting, to cream with the sugar.. Add the butter to the flour mixture and mix with a wooden spoon till it becomes crumbly in large chunks. Now use your hands and knead it till all the ingredients are incorporated. It shouldn't be dry after squishing it around in your hands for a short while, it should be like handling playdough.
- Turn out onto a flat surface* and form into a ball, with your fingers flatten it out some and with a rolling pin, roll the dough into a circle that is about 1/4 inch thick. With a heart shaped cookie cutter*, cut-out 12-14 hearts and place them on a large cookie sheet. With a toothpick or fork, poke a lot holes in each cookie.
- Place the baking sheet of cookies in the fridge and chill till firm, about 25-30 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Once preheated, remove the cookies from the fridge and into the oven. Bake for 20 minutes. Cool on the pan for 10 minutes and then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.
- Prepare a baking sheet by lining it with aluminum foil.
- In a medium sauce pan, add the butter by cutting into cubes. Add the sugar and vanilla. Stir over medium heat till the butter is melted. Allow the toffee to come to a boil, stirring occasionally but keeping a close eye on it. When the toffee reaches a dark amber color, remove from heat and immediately add the two cups of popcorn, stirring till all the popcorn is covered. Transfer to prepared pan and flatten down with a spoon. Let it cool completely till hardened. About 1-2 hours. Once the toffee has hardened, shatter into pieces and set aside in a bowl till needed.
- After the cookies are cooled and the toffee is hardened; chop the bittersweet chocolate into small pieces and place in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave for 15-30 seconds intervals till the chocolate pieces start to look melted, remove from microwave and stir the chocolate with a spatula till smooth and all the chocolate lumps are melted. Take each cookie and dip the side with the holes face down into the melted chocolate, sprinkle on the toffee popcorn and place on a large plate to let the chocolate harden, drizzle with chocolate if desired. Repeat till all the cookies are assembled. You can put the plate of cookies in the freezer for about 5 minutes to speed up the chocolate hardening. Enjoy!
- *To make things easier(and cleaner!), I rolled the dough out on a large piece of parchment paper so when I cut out the hearts, they were easily peeled from the paper and put on the pan without distorting the shape.
- *The cookie cutter I used was about 2.5 to 3 inches in diameter, I was able to cut out 14 cookies.