Nibby Chocolate Buckwheat Shortbread

Nibby Chocolate Buckwheat Shortbread | A Sweet Spoonful
I had every intention of starting a new tradition this year and hosting a cookie swap with some of our local friends, but somehow the season really got the best of me and it just hasn’t happened. But! That hasn’t stopped me from getting a head start on holiday baking; I posted a photo on Instagram the other day of some of my very favorite holiday cookbooks, and asked if there was a way we could all just take the whole week off to bake instead of work. Judging from the responses, it seems I’m not the only one who thinks this would be a really great idea. But back here in reality, cookie baking is relegated to later evenings or, I hope, this weekend we’ll find some time to eek in a few batches (the recipe for Sam’s mom’s Nutmeg Logs is up next, and I’m set on making gingerbread men to take with us down to the Bay Area). Right now on our countertop, we’ve got a batch of these crumbly, chocolatey, whole grain shortbread that have proven to be a big hit. The ingredient list is small and simple, the technique foolproof, and I think they’re a real standout in a sea of holiday cookies.

There are what seem like a million shortbread recipes out there, but generally the traditional ones share the formula of 2 sticks butter, 2 cups flour and 1/2 (or so) cup of sugar. Some recipes you’ll see adding vanilla extract, maple syrup, all manner of nuts or fruits of chocolate. Last year, I’d come across a recipe for a Mocha Shortbread that originally inspired the idea for these cookies today, but I wanted to experiment with using 100% buckwheat flour and pair it with chocolate as I think the two work so well together: buckwheat has that natural nutty, earthiness that goes so well with a dark cocoa flavor. And of course, cacao nibs add a bit of crunch that’s so nice with a crumbly, buttery cookie. I also wanted to use significantly less sugar, and I think the balance here is really spot on: dark and chocolatey with a nutty, toasty crunch and just a hint of sweetness. The flavor of the buckwheat really shines through, and they’re perfect with coffee in the evening or tea in the afternoon.

December | A Sweet Spoonful

In truth, it took me a really long time to land on this recipe as I found myself inundated with all of the cookies I wanted  to make. There are so many! I’d love to hear about any favorites you have in your house — really. I continue to love baking thumbprints, gingerbread men and Mexican wedding cookies — and now, these shortbread cookies: what about you? What are you baking for friends and family this year?

December | A Sweet Spoonful

We are heading down to the Bay Area next week to spend time with my family over the holiday. I’m not 100% certain I’ll be back here before then, so if I’m not I hope you have a wonderfully relaxing yet spirited holiday with your loved ones that’s filled with downtime and lots of cookie baking. I so look forward to rejoining you here soon thereafter. xox ~m

Nibby Chocolate Buckwheat Shortbread

Nibby Chocolate Buckwheat Shortbread

  • Yield: 27 bars
  • Prep time: 15 mins
  • Cook time: 30 mins
  • Inactive time: 2 hrs
  • Total time: 2 hrs 45 mins

Ingredients

2 cups (260g) buckwheat flour
1/3 cup (35g) unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup (115g) natural cane sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup (60g) cacao nibs

Instructions

Line a 9 x 13 inch pan with parchment and set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder and salt and set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer (or using hand beaters), beat the butter on medium speed, until light and fluffy, 4-5 minutes. Add the sugar in a few batches and continue to beat for another minute or so.  Add vanilla extract, scrape down the edges of the bowl and beat again for 30 seconds or until well combined.

With the mixer on low, gradually add the dry ingredients and beat until just incorporated, about 1 minute. Fold in the cacao nibs.

Press the dough evenly into the prepared pan. Cover with plastic wrap and use the plastic wrap to help you to smooth out the top of your shortbread, using your hands or the back of a measuring cup. Refrigerate at least 2 hours and up to 1 day.

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Use a paring knife to slice dough into 27 bars (8 across the short side, 3 across the long side). Poke holes in the top using a fork.

Bake for 30 minutes. Let cool completely in pan. Once cool, recut bars along your original cut marks. Shortbread will remain fresh for up to 3 weeks if stored in an airtight room temperature container.

Comments

  1. Mary

    I *love* the combination of chocolate and buckwheat. Alice Medrich's nibby buckwheat cookies are one of my favorites. I've always wondered about upping the buckwheat percentage, but somehow in the midst of the holiday rush I fall back on the version I know, love, and trust rather than experimenting freely like I do at other times. I'm glad to know an all buckwheat cookie can work.

    These sound really lovely.

  2. Lisa Waldschmidt

    I did a cookie bake last weekend. The favorites where a triple chocolate with cocoa nibs, Rosemary shortbread, lemon thumbprint with raspberry jam! Oh and the quadruple ginger cookies were thin and crispy. And a cinnamon roll cookie that actually tasted better the next day.

    1. megang

      Lemon thumbprints with raspberry jam sound great, Lisa. And intrigued with the cinnamon roll cookie! Happy holidays, ~m

  3. Margie

    I LOVE the idea of taking the week off to bake. In fact, some years I pretty much do that. I used to bake at least 12 different kinds of cookies. (this is a priority for me - I'm a CPA!) Now I bake fewer cookies but some fancy pastries and an English pudding or two (but that's earlier - go check out "Stir-up Sunday")

    1. megang

      Margie- 12 kinds of cookies is dedication! That's amazing. I will check out "Stir up Sunday"; thank you. Happy Friday, m

  4. Suzanne

    Our girls & families arrive tomorrow. The cookie baking is sure to start in earnest. We have some gluten-free folks, so love this buckwheat recipe. As I did the rice flour & buckwheat you used for quick bread. My favorite Christmas cookie is snowballs. (Like Mexican wedding cake with date or candied cherry inside.) Happy Christmas to you & family.

  5. Eileen

    This shortbread sounds delicious! A perfect use for the packet of buckwheat flour I have kicking around in the back of the freezer. :)

  6. Erin Bennett

    I saw this recipe last night and had to make them. So I did this morning. They are delicious and perfect and not too sweet. Also, I didn't have time to cool them first, and they still turned out great. Many thanks. And have a great holiday week!

    1. megang

      Yay, Erin! I'm so glad you enjoyed them. Ours are now gone and I'm contemplating making another batch ... happy holidays! ~m

  7. kickpleat

    I always find shortbread a little too rich for me, but I'm really loving buckwheat in baked goods. So I'll be making a batch tomorrow morning. They sound amazing!

  8. Stephanie

    An all-buckwheat cookie! That is very daring . . . and, I think, a wonderful idea with dark chocolate. I'm looking forward to trying it.

    My favourite Christmas cookie recipe is one my grandma used to make. It's a shortbread peppermint pattie sandwich cookie. Sandwich the chocolate-covered peppermint pattie between two warm shortbread cookies and I'm in heaven. Merry Christmas!

  9. Kate

    Oh so many cookies to make and now one more! These look like the perfect cookie combination. We always make a orange sour cream cookie that is a family favorite. Happy New Year to you!

  10. SandraM

    Made these. And they were so good!! Honestly, I had my doubts going in, but am so glad I tried them!
    But I think since my favourite pancakes are the whole grain pancakes from Whole Grain Mornings, I should have realized they'd be good!
    Thanks for sharing the recipe. I find these are so much better than regular (rich) shortbread). :)

    1. megang

      Oh I'm so glad, Sandra! I love these little cookies ... not too sweet but super flavorful. Happy New Year ~Megan

  11. Susan

    Had a little problem, they were SO crumbly, very difficult to get smooth in the pan and a mess when I cut them before baking...........woof

    1. megang

      Hi, Susan- I'm so sorry to hear you had trouble with these! It's odd because we've made them a few times and I've had a number of readers comment on how they enjoyed the recipe. But that certainly doesn't discount what I imagine was a frustrating experience for you. Sometimes it really can have something to do with the flour (the age and the grind of whole grain flours can really affect a recipe). So I'm imagining this might've been the culprit here. Regardless, I hope the little bits were nice to snack on. Happy Friday, Megan

  12. Mary

    Hi Megan! I love your recipes. You are a big inspiration for me. i
    I would to ask you why don't correspond grams with cups un this recipe? I'm from Spain but I read to you from Norway. Sorry for my English. Thanks. Mary

  13. Mary

    Ok it was my mistake. Everything is ok. Congratulations for your job!! Mary

Join the Discussion

Healthy Comfort Food

Thai Carrot, Coconut and Cauliflower Soup

Thai Carrot, Coconut and Cauliflower Soup

People describe raising young kids as a particular season in life. I hadn't heard this until we had a baby, but it brought me a lot of comfort when I'd start to let my mind wander, late at night between feedings, to fears that we'd never travel internationally again or have a sit-down meal in our dining room. Would I ever eat a cardamom bun in Sweden? Soak in Iceland? I loved the heck out of our tiny Oliver, but man what had we done?! Friends would swoop in and reassure us that this was just a season, a blip in the big picture of it all. They promised we'd likely not even remember walking around the house in circles singing made-up songs while eating freezer burritos at odd hours of the day (or night). And it's true.

Oliver is turning two next month, and those all-encompassing baby days feel like a different time, a different Us. In many ways, dare I say it, Toddlerhood actually feels a bit harder. Lately Oliver has become extremely opinionated about what he will and will not wear -- and he enforces these opinions with fervor. Don't get near the kid with a button-down shirt. This week at least. He's obsessed with his rain boots and if it were up to him, he'd keep them on at all times, especially during meals. He insists on ketchup with everything (I created a damn monster), has learned the word "trash" and insists on throwing found items away on his own that really, truly are not trash. I came to pick him up from daycare the other day and he was randomly wearing a bike helmet -- his teacher mentioned he'd had it on most of the day and really, really didn't want to take it off. The kid has FEELINGS. I love that about him, and wouldn't want it any other way. But, man it's also exhausting.

Read More
Cheesy Quinoa Cauliflower Bake

Cheesy Quinoa Cauliflower Bake

I just finished washing out Oliver's lunchbox and laying it out to dry for the weekend. My favorite time of day is (finally) here: the quiet of the evening when I can actually talk to Sam about our day or sit and reflect on my own thoughts after the inevitable dance party or band practice that precedes the bedtime routine lately. Before becoming pregnant for the second time, I'd have had a glass of wine with the back door propped open right about now -- these days though, I have sparkling water or occasionally take a sip from one of Sam's hard ciders. Except now the back door's closed and we even turned on the heat for the first time yesterday. The racing to water the lawn and clean the grill have been replaced by cozier dinners at home and longer baths in the evening. You blink and it's the first day of fall. 

Read More
Stuffed Shells with Fennel and Radicchio

Stuffed Shells with Fennel and Radicchio

I'd heard from many friends that buying a house wasn't for the faint of heart. But I always shrugged it off, figuring I probably kept better files or was more organized and, really, how hard could it be? Well, I've started (and stopped) writing this post a good fifteen times which may indicate something. BUT! First thing's first: we bought a house! I think! I'm pretty sure! We're still waiting for some tax transcripts to come through and barring any hiccough with that, we'll be moving out of our beloved craftsman in a few weeks and down the block to a great, brick Tudor house that we wanted the second we laid eyes on it. The only problem: it seemed everyone else in Seattle had also laid eyes on it, and wanted it equally as much. I'm not really sure why the homeowner chose us in the end. Our offer actually wasn't the highest, but apparently there were some issues with a few of them. We wrote a letter introducing ourselves and describing why we'd be the best candidates and why we were so drawn to the house; we have a really wonderful broker who pulled out all the stops, and after sifting through 10 offers and spending a number of hours deliberating, they ended up going with ours. We were at a friend's book event at the time when Sam showed me the text from our broker and I kind of just collapsed into his arms. We were both in ecstatic denial (wait, is this real?! Did we just buy a house?) and celebrated by getting chicken salad and potato salad from the neighborhood grocery store and eating it, dazed, on our living room floor. Potato salad never tasted so good. 

Read More
Smoky Butternut Squash and Three Bean Chili

Smoky Butternut Squash and Three Bean Chili

If your house is anything like ours, last week wasn't our most inspired in terms of cooking. We're all suffering from the post-election blues -- the sole upside being Oliver's decision to sleep-in until 7 am for the first time in many, many months; I think he's trying to tell us that pulling the covers over our heads and hibernating for awhile is ok. It's half-convincing. For much of the week, instead of cooking, there'd been takeout pizza and canned soup before, at week's end, I decided it was time to pour a glass of wine and get back into the kitchen. I was craving something hearty and comforting that we could eat for a few days. Something that wouldn't remind me too much of Thanksgiving because, frankly, I can't quite gather the steam to start planning for that yet. It was time for a big bowl of chili.

Read More
To Talk Porridge

To Talk Porridge

Porridge is not the sexiest of breakfasts, it's true. It doesn't have a stylish name like strata or shakshuka, and it doesn't have perfectly domed tops like your favorite fruity muffin. It doesn't crumble into delightful bits like a good scone nor does it fall into buttery shards like a well-made croissant. But when you wake up and it's 17 degrees outside (as it has been, give or take a few, for the last week), there's nothing that satisfies like a bowl of porridge or oatmeal. It's warm and hearty and can be made sweet or savory with any number of toppings. The problem? Over the years, it's gotten a bad rap as gluey or gummy or just downright boring or dutiful -- and it's because not everyone knows the secrets to making a great pot of warm morning cereal. So let's talk porridge (also: my cookbook comes out this month! So let's take a peek inside, shall we?)

Read More