Monday, July 13, 2015

Chocolate Sourdough Pretzel Shortbread with Milk Chocolate Buttercream

Let's just start things out by stating,  "I'm here but I might not be here", and if you can figure that one out you are much smarter than I am my friend.  I should probably just stay off social media and quit advertising my wares because it never fails that I'm hit up with the request for a recipe for said tantalizing item I dangle in front of you all.  I always feel kind of crappy when I don't hand it over, like I'm just hogging all the good stuff for myself or something.  I've come to realize over these past few years it makes some people happy that I bother to share and others annoyed and quite possibly pissed that I'm over here showing off my goodies while they are holed up on the couch with a bag of stale chips. But regardless of how anyone feels about it I've also come to realize it makes me happy in some small way so I guess I can deal with it.

I bought the book "Cookie Love" by Mindy Segal on the recommendation of the fabulous Patty from Patty's Food and I'm loving it.  So many things to try, so little time these days.  I've also come to realize I can't even keep the battery charged in my camera from lack of use, so a cell phone and little editing is something I'm more than content with.  I should probably warn you this recipe isn't for the faint of heart, but it is darn delicious and so worth the effort.

Chocolate Pretzel Shortbread with Milk Chocolate Buttercream
(Adapted from "Cookie Love" by Mindy Segal)
2 cups sourdough pretzel nuggets
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2/3 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt 
1/2 teaspoon sea salt flakes
1 ½ cups (12 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/4 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted (I was out and used granulated, worked fine, p.s. sifting is for sissy types.  I did make these a second time with confectioners’ sugar and the only noticeable difference was a little finer texture to the shortbread with the confectioners’ sugar.)
2 large egg yolks, at room temperature (She calls for extra-large eggs, but I don't ever use those so feel free if that is what you have.)
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract (Please forward the name of that one person still using imitation if you come by it.)

Milk Chocolate Caramel Buttercream:
1/2 cup (4 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature 
1 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted (I didn’t sift, my bad, probably used a bit more than a cup also.  I just add sugar until I get the consistency I like, more like 1 ¼ to 1 ½ cups.)
5 1/2 ounces milk chocolate, melted and cooled
1 ½ tablespoons whiskey (Didn’t use, not going to admit whether or not I drank any.)
½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Pinch of sea salt flakes
1/3 cup Caramel Sauce (She has a recipe for it, but I just used a couple of heaping tablespoons of a jarred Dulce De Leche I had on hand, because I can admit it, I’m a slacker.  Pst, don’t let it get around.)

To Finish:
6 ounces melted dark chocolate
A small amount of crushed pretzel nuggets

1. Make the shortbread: Put the pretzels in a food processor and pulse until its crumbs but not powder. Pulse in the flour, cocoa, and salts.

2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the butter on medium speed for 5 to 10 seconds. Add the sugar and mix on low speed to incorporate. Increase the speed to medium and cream the butter mixture 3 to 4 minutes. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula to bring the batter together.

3. Add the egg yolks and vanilla to the mixer and mix for a few seconds longer.

4. Add the pretzel-flour mixture all at once and mix on low speed until the dough just comes together. Divide the dough into two equal portions.

5. Put a sheet of parchment paper 13x18-inches on the counter and lightly dust with flour. Place one piece of dough on top and cover with another sheet of parchment. Using a rolling pin, roll the dough half into a rectangle approximately 11x13-inches and ¼-inch thick. Ease the rolled dough onto a sheet pan and place in the fridge. Repeat for the other piece of dough. Let chill at least 1 hour until really firm.

6. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a couple of half sheet pans with parchment paper or silicone mats.

7. Roll a dough docker (or fork) over the dough to pierce. (I don't own a docker, so fell free to dock at your own risk, sounds a little dangerous to me anyways.) Cut dough into 1 3/4-x 2-inch rectangles or 2-inch squares. Put the shortbread on the prepared sheet pans, evenly spaced, up to 16 cookies per pan. (Cut the cookies tightly so you don’t have as many scraps to re-roll, you also have to let the scraps get cold again, because the dough becomes really sticky once it reaches room temp.) I got about 56 squares out of the dough once the scraps were re-rolled.

8. Bake one pan at a time for 10 minutes. Rotate the pan and bake until the cookies feel firm, 3-5 minutes more. Let the cookies cool completely on the sheet. Repeat.

9. Make frosting: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the butter briefly on medium speed for 5-10 seconds. Add the sugar and beat until fluffy and pale, add the chocolate, (whiskey), salt, vanilla extract, and caramel sauce. Taste and add more sugar or salt as needed. Fill a disposable piping bag with frosting. (Using a piping tip is up to you, I didn’t bother.) Match the cookies to size and pipe one half of each set with frosting. 

10. Melt the chocolate in a shallow bowl on half power for a few seconds in the microwave and dip the cookie sandwiches in a little bit of the way, lay them on a baking sheet lined with parchment and sprinkle the chocolate with a little crushed pretzel. (Store them in the fridge till firm.)

11. Now go pour yourself a nice cocktail because you are going to be at this recipe for a good long while. (You should probably do this again for good measure.)

As for me I have summer to get back to, it has been filled with ups and downs (literally) a real challenge in so many ways.  So many miles logged and so much dust removed from my shoes.

I have to say the miles sure do go a lot faster and seem easier when you have good company in tow. 

So many cookies baked and shared with friends near and far.  Hard to believe my daughter's best friend had a little girl of her own.

A day well spent having a friend over and helping her learn the mysterious ways of the macaron.  

Okay, well maybe not every cookie gets shared.

So many wine country days still need to be had. 

Setbacks aside this year I'm writing this in hopes that things move forward and up from here.  

Happy summer!



  1. I'm so glad you popped in for a post because these shortbread look fantastic. Love that milk chocolate caramel buttercream - sounds divine! Hope the rest of your summer is onward and upward!

    1. Thank you Laura, I'm move on up one way or another. You should try them. they are positively addicting. Hope you summer is going great.

  2. Yes to anything with sourdough pretzel nuggets. Yes to anything with buttercream. Yes to summer and good times for all (and getting through the rough spots). I, too am trying to get back on track! Happy summer, Gina! Keep sharing your goodies on social media. I am very good at living vicariously!

  3. Nice to see you back (hopefully stay a little longer?) and update your blog, Gina. Those pretzel shortbread sandwich cookies look very tempting!
    Continue to enjoy your summer, Gina!

  4. I was so "that person" who requested that you share the recipe for these cookies. They look to die for and I can't wait to make them. I'll have to send my kids away for the day so I can bake them up without interruption. Hope you are doing well, Gina!

  5. Gina
    Sorry that I missed this post, but I can attest to the yummyness of these cookies. Recently, I received a coveted box of these amazing cookies, as well as Almond Shortbread with Cherry Butter Cream, which are out of this world. I felt like I had won the lottery, well maybe not quite, but OMG Good! They even came in the cute little bags. You will always be my forever Cookie Queen!

  6. I miss seeing your posts, but totally get it! These are super cute!