Jeweled Chocolate-Topped Shortbread Cookies

Food always tastes better with a story… and this is the story about the inspirations behind these Jeweled Chocolate-Topped Shortbread Cookies!

 

Cookies take on a special meaning for me around this time each year. I suddenly get the urge to make every cookie recipe I see, and I have completely unrealistic ideas about giving beautifully decorated gourmet cookie trays to everyone I know.

This time of year also brings December 16th – my own personal Special Magic Happy Day. It’s a nonsensical holiday that I’ve celebrated for many years, “just because.” It precedes my Hat Trick Holiday Week which includes Christmas, my Birthday, and New Year’s – which is already more than enough to celebrate, but…

I don’t look for presents or expect special things on December 16th, but usually – most likely due to the laws of attraction – something pretty cool happens… Something magical.

On this particular December 16th, I’m celebrating some things that are pretty cool – and pretty magical – to me. First of all, TODAY is my five month Blogiversary! Yes, most people celebrate such milestones on an annual basis, but Bacon Fatte has been a lifetime {and seven very long years} in the making. We took our first timid steps out into the WWW on July 16th of this year with a very special recipe that is as meaningful as it is delicious. It’s been a wild and wonderful ride over the past five months, so the fact that I get to celebrate today by {finally!} participating in a super cool blog-related event that I’ve been following for several years is icing on the cookie!

The magical thing about this particular December 16th is that fact that cookies have brought hundreds of bloggers from around the world together for the holidays and for a good cause.

Jeweled Chocolate-Topped Shortbread Cookies | BaconFatte.com @baconfatte #baconfatte #fbcookieswap

The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap is an annual event hosted by two very thoughtful and inspiring bloggers: Lindsay at Love & Olive Oil, and and Julie at The Little Kitchen.

While the opportunity to bake cookies and meet new ‘friends in food’ all over the world is one I’ll embrace anytime, the fact that this opportunity also benefits the Cookies for Kids’ Cancer organization is one of the greatest benefits.

“Cookies for Kids’ Cancer provides annual research grants to five of the nation’s leading pediatric cancer centers to advance the development of less toxic, more effective treatments for children battling cancer.”

Last year, more than 500 bloggers from all over the world participated in this event which, together with event brand sponsors, raised almost $14,000 for #cookies4kids. {How awesome is that?!}

This year’s event Brand Partners include Dixie Crystals, Land O Lakes, and OXO – each of whom will match the event’s donation to Cookies for Kids’ Cancer, dollar for dollar. I can’t wait to hear what the 2015 numbers are!

The Brand Partners were also kind enough to send some very useful gifts to the cookie swap participants – all of which came in handy for cookie baking, and will be enjoyed and appreciated for lots of cooking and baking to come!

For more information on participating in, or becoming a brand partner for, the event next year, just get in touch with the hosts!

You can also follow the event – and all the amazing cookie recipes via The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook, and on Bacon Fatte’s Instagram, Twitter and Facebook feeds, as well as Pinterest, Bloglovin’ and G+!

 

Here’s how this Cookie Swap works: As a participant, you are assigned three bloggers that you’ll be sending your cookies to. And, you are assigned to three different bloggers who will send cookies to you! The hostesses-with-the mostess-es, Lindsay and Julie, have thought of everything – they’ve even included details like dietary restrictions on their participant check list so those with specific preferences can be matched appropriately.

Jeweled Chocolate-Topped Shortbread Cookies | BaconFatte.com @baconfatte #baconfatte #fbcookieswap

Handmade cookies ready to ship!

I was pretty excited when I received the names of the bloggers I would be sending my cookies to. No pressure. None whatsoever. {O.K., there was some pressure because these bloggers clearly know a thing or two about good cookies!}

First of all, there was Minnesota blogger, Tonia, of The Gunny Sack. I’ve enjoyed Tonia’s blog and recipes for quite a while now, but through the cookie swap, I learned that she just happens to be a few minutes down the road from me! {Hey, Tania – Let’s do coffee sometime soon!}

*Tania made Hot Chocolate Cookies for the cookie swap, and they look way too good to pass up… I can’t wait to try them! Check out the recipe on her blog!

Next was Chicago blogger, Starr, of Chicago Foodie Girl. After just one look at her profile blurb, I was in blog love. She’s awesome, and she’s got all the #chicagofoodie info you’ll ever need – just take a look at her glorious Instagram feed before you visit Chi Town (but bring a napkin… You’ll definitely need it!).

*Starr shared her cookie swap recipe for Double Chocolate Peppermint Crunch Cookies on her blog, and they’re definitely going to “star” in my holiday cookie trays this year!

And then there was Texas blogger, Serene, of House of Yumm. Doesn’t that just sound like a place you can’t wait to visit? She blogs about simple, no-fuss, something-for-everyone recipes – and that’s something everyone loves.

*Serene’s cookie swap recipe for Brown Butter Toffee & Pretzel Chocolate Chip Cookies has something for everyone, too, and you can get it on her blog today!

 

Here’s another fun little cookie swap deet: You have no idea who you’re getting cookies from until they show up at your door. {Many Thanks to our mail carrier who so thoughtfully brought the first cookie swap package to the door because “it looked special” — and who made sure to bring the other two cookie swap packages to the door as well because, of course, we shared the cookies with him!}

And inside those special hand-delivered packages, my cookie swap mystery prezzies included:

Pebber Nodder Cookies from Nebraska blogger, Jamie, of The Kitchenarium. This is an old family recipe – the best kind – that makes a lot of delicious, lightly spiced one-bite wonders. We couldn’t stop munching on them! They were absolutely divine with a hot cup of coffee in the morning, too. Visit Jamie’s blog soon for this tasty cookie recipe!

Black Bottom Butterfinger Cookies from Washington blogger, Loy, of Grandma Loy’s Kitchen. Loy told me this is a very old recipe that she enjoyed as a child. {Love that!} And to make it even more special, she added a twist to her cookies just for the cookie swap! They smelled so good when we popped open the pretty cookie tin that she sent, and they tasted even better. Her recipe is available on her blog so you can make them, too!

And then there were the much-anticipated Liliko’i Bar Cookies from Honolulu {WOOT!} blogger, Catherine of The Cat Dish. I say they were much-anticipated for two reasons. First, when I saw Catherine’s cookie swap photo on Instagram, I made a note to visit her  blog when the recipes were published because I could practically taste her beautiful bars just by looking at the photo. So there was that. Second, I absolutely adore all things Hawaii, and have ever since my very first trip there many years ago when I made a promise to return – that story is underway. Seeing all the gorgeous island views and delicious Hawaiian food that Catherine shares with her followers makes me want to plan my second {Five Year Wedding Anniversary!} trip to Hawaii sooner rather than later.

So, as my husband will confirm, I was more than a little excited – giddy, actually – when the package from Honolulu containing the must-have bars that I saw online arrived at my door.

Take a little tip on over to Instagram for a little Aloha, Catherine-style, and make sure to visit her blog link above for her heavenly Liliko’i Bars recipe!

 

Now, about the cookies that I sent to “my” bloggers and am super excited to share with you!

Jeweled Chocolate-Topped Shortbread Cookies | BaconFatte.com @baconfatte #baconfatte #fbcookieswap

First of all, they’re about as “random” as I am because they came together from a combination of recipes and ideas. Thankfully, they turned out very nicely and passed the scrutiny of several taste testers with flying colors. So much so, that I made two more batches to share after the cookie swap, and plan on making another to share with family over Christmas.

After pouring over dozens and dozens of cookie recipes trying to decide what kind of cookies to make for my first Cookie Swap, I finally decided that it would be a “Jeweled” Shortbread Cookie.

The initial inspiration came from a recipe for pretty chocolate bites that I’ve been coveting since one of my favorite bloggers first posted the recipe. Wanting to turn that concept into a cookie for this event I figured shortbread cookies were the obvious choice, so I tested several recipes and landed on a divinely simple and delicious recipe that instantly became my new fave. After a little trial and error with the chocolate and toppings, the rest, as they say, is history.

All, except, for deciding whether I like the dark chocolate or white chocolate version better. I’m typically a dark chocolate fan, but I think the white chocolate is also exceptionally pretty and delish on these cookies so I’m still deciding – one bite at a time. You’ll have to let me know which one you like best!

Enjoy!

 

Jeweled Chocolate-Topped Shortbread Cookies
 
So many options with so much deliciousness, these “Jeweled” Chocolate-Topped Shortbread Cookies will be a favorite!
Recipe from:
Serves: 24 - 30 Cookies
Ingredients
For the Shortbread Cookies:
  • 12 tablespoons butter (salted or unsalted), at room temperature
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1½ cups unbleached flour
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
For the Jeweled Chocolate Topping:
  • ¼ - ½ cup dried cranberries, chopped*
  • ¼ - ½ cup pistachios, shelled and chopped*
  • 2 tablespoons coarse/sparkling sanding sugar, or more if needed
  • ¾ cup (about 6 oz.) dark chocolate chips or chunks, melted
  • ¾ cup (about 6 oz.) white chocolate chips or chunks, melted
  • 1 teaspoon vegetable oil, divided (optional)*
Preparation
  1. Pre-heat oven to 350°.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the butter and sugar until smooth (a hand mixer works perfectly for this). Add the vanilla and egg yolk, and beat again until the mixture is silky smooth.
  3. Pour the flour and salt into the butter mixture, and beat just until all ingredients are combined.
  4. Line three cookie sheets with parchment paper (depending on the exact size of your dough balls, you’ll end up with 24 – 30 cookies so you may need up to three cookie sheets). With a small cookie scoop or a tablespoon-sized measuring spoon, portion dough into approximately 1" balls and place 2" apart on the lined baking sheets. Flatten the dough balls using a well-floured cookie press or flat-bottomed water glass.
  5. Bake cookies for 8 – 10 minutes, just until the edges start to turn light golden brown. When they’re done, remove them from the oven and allow to cool on the cookie sheets for 10 minutes, then transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely before topping them.
  6. Melt chocolate in a double boiler or in glass, microwave-safe bowls. If using a microwave, heat the chocolate and ½ teaspoon oil (if adding oil - see notes below) at short 30-second intervals; stir and repeat until melted.
  7. Using a small spoon or offset spatula, carefully “pour” about 1 teaspoon of melted chocolate in the center of each cookie. Spread the chocolate carefully, leaving about ½ inch to the edges. Add more chocolate if you want a thicker layer, and then quickly sprinkle the cranberries, nuts and sugar on top. Press the toppings very gently to set, if needed, and allow chocolate to cool completely before serving or storing.
  8. Store in an air-tight container at room temperature for a couple of days, or in the refrigerator for up to a week.
Cook's Notes:
*The amount of chopped cranberries and pistachios depends on how heavily you want to layer them on top of your cookies. I think they’re prettiest with a lot of berries and nuts on top, so I usually prepare the full ½ cup of each (and certainly have no trouble finding happy takers for any extras that may occur).
*Watch cookies carefully while baking. Check after about 8 minutes (all ovens heat differently), and pull the cookies out when the edges have just a hint of golden brown color.
*The white chocolate can be temperamental, meaning you have to work quickly because it sometimes hardens before you’re ready for it to do so. If that happens, just re-mix it until it’s smooth again. Keeping the chocolate warm while working helps.
*You can add ½ tablespoon vegetable oil to the chocolate to make it smoother if you’d like. Just be aware that it takes a little longer to set.

This recipe is a combination/adaptation of recipes from TVFGI and SAVEUR.

 

I’d love to hear how you liked this recipe! Let me know by commenting here on the blog, and sharing it on FacebookPinterestInstagramTwitter, and/or Google+… Make sure to hashtag #baconfatte or tag @baconfatte!

Jeweled Chocolate-Topped Shortbread Cookies | BaconFatte.com @baconfatte #baconfatte #fbcookieswap

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4 comments… add one
  • Antigoni | A Pinch of Lemon December 18, 2015, 1:37 am

    Those are simply gorgeous! Almost to pretty to eat!! Almost 🙂

    Reply
    • Michele Phillips December 22, 2015, 4:16 pm

      Almost is right, Tig! I don’t even want to tell you how many batches I’ve made this year, but the good news is that they’ve all disappeared very quickly. The recipe is definitely a keeper! 🙂

      Reply
  • Lauren Gaskill | Making Life Sweet December 18, 2015, 11:50 am

    Happy 5-month blogiversary dear!! What a lovely way to celebrate with the cookie swap. Great recipe!

    Reply
    • Michele Phillips December 22, 2015, 4:14 pm

      Thanks, Lauren! The Cookie Swap was so much fun — I’m already looking forward to next year’s event. I’m looking forward to trying your Cranberry Thumbprint Cookies, too! Merry Christmas!

      Reply

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