Cardamom Chocolate Chunk Shortbread Cookies
Cardamom chocolate chunk shortbread cookies are crisp, flaky, buttery, and chocolatey! And, they have a lovely floral note thanks to a dose of freshly-ground cardamom. Ahhh, they’re the best! These are one of my favorites to make for the holidays, cookie boxes, or just casual snacking.
We got home from our honeymoon in Curaçao last week and I was the most sad until I remembered that I had a Bertie the greyhound, a decorated tree, and frozen shortbread cookies with chocolate chunks and cardamom just waiting for me in the freezer. If you get bad post-vacation blues like I do, might I recommend that you schedule any and all vacations right after Thanksgiving so you can come home to some holiday cheer? (A little worried that the post-holiday blues are going to be doubly bad this year but that’s a problem for future Sara).
Anywho. I sure do hope you have some softened butter and a bar of chocolate sitting around, because you must make these cookies immediately! They are honestly one of my all-time favorite Christmas cookies I’ve ever made. Truly, I thought about them during my entire honeymoon and desperately wished I had packed a batch for a little plane snack.
Cardamom chocolate chunk shortbread cookies are the best
Cross my heart. They might just be my perfect cookie. For starters, there’s a ton of cardamom and I know I don’t need to explain my love of cardamom here. Secondly, they’re flaky, dense, uber buttery, and have a nice salty touch. Borderline more like pie dough than cookies, and I mean that in the best way possible. Also, we’re adding semisweet chocolate for a little extra richness. And, we’re coating the outsides with Turbinado sugar (inspired by Alison Roman!) cause crunchy edges are my love language. These cookies are also:
- Super quick & easy thanks to a traditional slice-and-bake method.
- One-bowl, a.k.a. less dishes!
- Need just a handful of pantry staple ingredients.
Classic chocolate chip cookies vs. this shortbread version
Let me preface this by saying that if you’re looking for a traditional chocolate chip cookie, this version is not it. Classic chocolate chip cookies are chewy, soft, doughy, usually with lightly crisp edges. But the shortbread version, popularized by Alison Roman a few years ago, is crisp, buttery, dense, and crunchy like a traditional shortbread. I love both equally and make classic CCCs and this version depending on my mood!
While the ingredient list is pretty simple, I recommend going with high-quality ingredients for this recipe. Since the cookies only have a handful of ingredients, the flavors really shine through and good stuff make a difference. Here’s what you need!
- Unsalted butter – make sure to let it soften for at least 30-60 minutes.
- Dark brown sugar – light brown sugar also works!
- Cardamom pods – you need freshly-ground cardamom in these cookies! Just shell the pods and grind the seeds with a mortar and pestle or spice grinder. If you don’t have cardamom pods, you can also use ground cinnamon.
- Vanilla bean paste – or extract. I use paste cause I already have it on hand but extract is great too!
- Semisweet chocolate – I highly recommend chopping up a bar of chocolate for the best texture. In a pinch, high-quality chocolate chips (roughly chopped) will also work.
- Turbinado sugar – for those crunchy edges!
- Baking basics – sugar, all-purpose flour, Kosher salt, and an egg.
How to make these easy cookies
- First, cream the butter, sugar, and brown sugar, until it’s light and fluffy. Mix in the vanilla bean paste or extract.
- Next, mix in the all-purpose flour, freshly-ground cardamom, and Kosher salt until you have a thick dough.
- Using a rubber spatula, fold the chocolate chunks into the dough.
- Divide the dough into 2 logs and wrap each in plastic wrap. Roll until the logs are round and smooth. They don’t have to be perfect! Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to 4 days.
- Once the dough is chilled, brush each log with egg wash and roll in the Turbinado sugar. Slice into 1/2” cookies.
- Bake the cookies at 350°F for 14-16 minutes, or until they’re golden-brown. Cool completely and enjoy!
What kind of chocolate should I use?
In this recipe, we’ll use a good bar of semisweet chocolate. Or, try milk or dark chocolate! Then, just chop up the bar into rough chunks to get a variety of textures. You don’t want shards but you don’t want huge chunks either. The size of a chocolate chip (ish) is best! In a pinch, chocolate chips work too, but I would give them a rough chop. If you like a more uniform texture, you can try mini chocolate chips.
Can I use pre-ground cardamom?
I tried this recipe with both pre-ground and freshly-ground cardamom and I would not recommend using pre-ground cardamom. With pre-ground, the flavor was too subtle and most of my taste-testers didn’t even know it was there. With freshly-ground cardamom, there’s a balanced, floral spice in these cookies. If you don’t want to grind your own cardamom, try pre-ground cinnamon instead!
If you, too, are making a million cookies this holiday season, it’s pretty nice to have a make-ahead option! Luckily, the dough for cardamom chocolate chunk shortbread cookies can be made up to 3 days in advance. Just wrap the dough well in plastic wrap or parchment paper and store in the fridge until you’re ready to roll the cookies in sugar and bake!
Storing & freezing
- To store the cookies, place them in an airtight container and store them at room temperature for up to 1 week. Since shortbread cookies are already crisp, they don’t go stale as quickly as other cookies!
- To freeze the cookies, you’ll first want to freeze them for 1-2 hours on a tray (this will prevent them from crumbling). Then, just pop the frozen cookies into a freezer bag or airtight container and freeze for up to 3 months.
- You can also freeze the dough! Just tightly wrap the logs of dough with parchment paper or plastic wrap. Place them in an airtight container or freezer bag and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw the dough in the fridge for 1-2 hours before rolling in sugar, slicing, and baking.
Recipe tips & tricks
- Start with high-quality ingredients. Trust me, it’s key in these cookies! With such a simple ingredient list, the butter, vanilla, cardamom, and chocolate really shine through.
- Use freshly-ground cardamom pods. I use a mortar and pestle to grind the seeds but a spice grinder works too! When I tested the recipe with pre-ground cardamom, you could barely taste it.
- Properly measure the flour. Fluff it with a whisk or spoon, spoon the fluffed flour into a measuring cup, and level without packing it in. If you just scoop it, you’ll end up with dry, flavorless cookies.
- Don’t pack too much sugar on the outside of the cookies. Otherwise, the sugar will melt to the pan instead of baking into the cookies.
- Use a serrated bread knife to slice the cookies. Then, if you hit a large chocolate chunk, you can gently saw through it. If the dough crumbles apart anyways, no worries. Just press it back together. It’s very unfussy!
- Refrigerate the sliced cookies for 10 minutes before baking. This is optional but will help prevent the cookies from spreading as much. (If that matters to you. It doesn’t matter to me tbh!)
More holiday cookies
Brown Butter Peanut M&M Cookies
Chewy Coffee Cookies
Gingerbread Biscotti with White Chocolate & Lemon
Eggnog Cookies with Boozy Glaze
Sesame Lace Cookies with Dark Chocolate
Shortbread Linzer Cookies with Raspberry Jam
Cardamom Gingerbread Cookies with Orange Glaze
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Cardamom Chocolate Chunk Shortbread Cookies
- 1 c unsalted butter, softened
- 1/2 c sugar
- 1/3 c dark brown sugar, packed
- 1 tsp vanilla bean paste (or 2 tsp vanilla extract)
- 2 1/4 c all-purpose flour
- 2 tsp cardamom, freshly-ground, divided
- 1/4 tsp Kosher salt
- 4 oz semisweet chocolate, roughly chopped
- 1 egg
- 1/3 c Turbinado sugar, for rolling
- In a large bowl, cream the softened butter, sugar, dark brown sugar, and the vanilla bean paste until the mixture is light and fluffy, about 4-5 minutes.
- Next, mix in the flour, 1 1/2 teaspoons of the freshly-ground cardamom, and Kosher salt until you have a thick dough. The dough should not be crumbly or too sticky. It will resemble Play Dough.
- Fold the semisweet chocolate chunks into the dough until it's evenly incorporated. Divide the dough into 2 loose discs.
- Lay 2 long pieces of parchment paper or plastic wrap on the counter. Place 1 disc of dough onto each sheet of parchment or plastic wrap. Using your hands, roughly pat each disc of dough into a 12-inch log (they will be about 1-1 1/2 inches in diameter). Wrap the logs tightly in the parchment paper or plastic wrap, and roll until you have smooth, round logs (it doesn't have to be perfect). Refrigerate the dough for at least 2 hours, or up to 3 days.
- Once the dough is chilled and you're ready to bake the cookies, preheat the oven to 350°F. Beat the egg with 1 Tablespoon of water until it's smooth. Toss the remaining cardamom and Turbinado sugar together, and evenly pour the mixture onto a plate or shallow dish. Line 2 sheet pans with parchment paper.
- Remove the dough from the fridge and unwrap. Brush both logs with the egg wash and roll in the Turbinado sugar to evenly coat the outside of the dough (don't pack too much on or the sugar will bake into the pan instead of the cookies). Cut the logs in half, if necessary.
- Using a serrated knife, cut the logs into 1/2-inch cookies (you should get about 48 cookies). If you hit a chocolate chunk, gently saw the knife back and forth to cut through it. If it still crumbles apart, just push the cookie back together, the dough is very unfussy!
- Line the sliced cookies 1-inch apart on the prepared sheet pans. Refrigerate the cookies for 10 minutes to prevent them from puffing up as much (totally optional – just if you want prettier cookies). Bake the cookies for 12-15 minutes, until the cookies are set and golden-brown on the edges.
- Let the cookies cool for 4-5 minutes on the sheet pans and then transfer them to a rack to cool completely. Enjoy!
xo Sara Lynn
Song of the day: Home for the Holidays by Perry Como