The thing about chocolate shortbread cookies is that, even when adorably heart-shaped, they might seem too plain for a special gift.
But a dunk in melted chocolate and a sprinkling of freeze-dried raspberries add richness and crimson pizazz. Other garnishes — flaky sea salt, chopped pistachios, crushed candy canes, toasted coconut - can also be appealing, if you want to play around.
Chocolate Shortbread Hearts (Makes 18)
40g unsweetened Dutch-processed cocoa powder
1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
225g salted European-style (or cultured) butter (2 sticks), softened
135g granulated sugar
1 large egg yolk
170g dark, milk or white chocolate chips, or use some of each (about 1 cup)
1/3 cup freeze-dried raspberries, lightly crushed (optional)
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder and salt.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat together butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in yolk, scraping the sides of the bowl as necessary. Mix in flour mixture until just combined. Form dough into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to 3 days.
Once chilled, remove plastic wrap and sandwich dough between two sheets of parchment paper. Roll it out into a 1cm-thick slab. Leaving dough between the parchment, place it on a baking sheet or large plate and refrigerate for 30 minutes (or up to 24 hours).
Heat oven to 165 degrees, and line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.
Pull dough from refrigerator, and remove parchment from dough. Using a 5cm heart-shaped cutter, cut out as many hearts as possible. Transfer them to the prepared cookie sheets. Reroll the dough scraps and repeat.
Bake cookies for 18 to 23 minutes, until puffed and set, rotating the cookie sheets halfway through. Transfer pans to wire racks to cool completely.
In a heatproof measuring cup, melt chocolate in the microwave in 20-second intervals, stirring in between.
Dip half of each cooled cookie in melted chocolate, letting the excess drip back into measuring cup. Place back on parchment-lined baking sheets, and sprinkle chocolate with crushed raspberries, if using. Let cool until chocolate is set, then store in an airtight container.
The New York Times