blissful eats with tina jeffers: brown butter cocoa nib shortbread

Happy holidays!  This time of year it’s all about sharing home made gifts and treats and in our house that means cookies!  Between baking for friends, teachers and co-workers I am always on the lookout for a recipe that will stand apart from the usual sugar cookie.  I love shortbread but wanted something that utilized some of my favorite ingredients so I created my own. 

Finely ground hazelnuts, whole wheat pastry flour, brown butter and cocoa nibs make a cookie that is easy to put together but sure to be a hit at any cookie exchange.  Feel free to use all purpose flour if you can't find whole wheat pastry flour.  If you don’t want to bother rolling and cutting out the cookies you can form the dough into logs and slice and bake them to order.  This dough will keep well in the freezer and you can slice and bake them to order, just add a minute or two to the baking time.  You can easily skip the dipped chocolate but my boys definitely liked the extra richness that the chocolate added.  

If you’ve never tried cocoa nibs or can’t find them these cookies will work just fine without them but if you can source them they are well worth trying.  They are unsweetened and lightly crushed cocoa beans.  They add a slightly bittersweet note and crunchy texture to the cookies that help balance out the sweetness of the cookie. 

If you are looking for more Christmas cookie recipes be sure to visit me at I'll be posting a few of my favorites this week!


Brown butter cocoa nib shortbread    


1 cup hazelnuts, roasted

1 cup (2 sticks ) unsalted butter, room temperature

1 3/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour

¼ teaspoon coarse kosher salt

½ cup sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/3 cup cocoa nibs

1 tablespoon turbinado sugar

6 ounces dark chocolate, chopped 


Pulse hazelnuts in a processor or blender just until a coarse meal forms.  Be sure not to over process or you will end up with nut butter! 

Melt ½ cup butter in a skillet over medium heat.  Cook until dark amber, stirring often about 6 minutes taking care not to burn.   Chill just until firm, about 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Whisk flours, salt and hazelnut meal to blend. Using electric mixer, beat brown butter, remaining 1/2 cup butter, and sugar in large bowl until creamy. Beat in vanilla, gradually add in flour mixture on low speed just to blend.  Add cocoa nibs and stir to combine. 

Divide dough in half and flatten into a rectangle, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.  Roll out dough to ¼ inch thickness, lightly flour a 1 ½ inch cookie cutter and cut out cookies and transfer to a parchment lined baking sheet.  Sprinkle with the sugar and bake shortbread until golden brown and crisp, 12 to 14 minutes. 

Let cookies cool completely on a parchment lined tray.  Meanwhile put 3 ounces of the chocolate in a glass bowl and microwave on high for 30 seconds.  Stir with a wooden spoon.  Continue to heat and stir in 30 second increments until the chocolate is just melted.  Add the remaining chocolate and stir until it’s completely smooth. 

Dip half of each cookie into the chocolate just to coat it place the cookie back on the parchment and let sit until the chocolate has firmed up.

Yum3 Comments