I had a craving for something chocolatey and sweet the other day, and these Chocolate Strawberry Shortbread Bars, I discovered, were exactly what my sweet tooth was asking for.
There is a layer of chocolate shortbread in this recipe, and a layer of regular shortbread, and then all of this shortbready goodness is topped off by a layer of gooey strawberry jelly. Cookies just don’t get any better than this.
I add the strawberry preserves to the shortbread in the last few minutes of baking, to keep them a little gooey and also to preserve the gorgeous red color and retain the freshness. Baking the preserves too long would turn them rather black and they wouldn’t look so pretty. The layers of shortbread themselves are very mildly sweet, and that’s good because the strawberry preserves add another layer of sweetness to the cookie.
I used to use vegan butter like Earth Balance for my shortbread, and sometimes transfat-free vegetable shortening, but now I almost always go with coconut oil, after trying it for the first time in my Coconut Cardamom Shortbread which I shared a while back. Coconut oil is not just good for you, but it also gives the bars a mild, coconutty flavor which I love. If you’d rather not have the coconut flavor, use any vegetable oil and it should be fine.
It’s turned beautiful here in the Northeast right now. There are huge red poppies in the yard, along with paper-pink rhododendrons, lush peonies, and purple irises. The sky’s a perfect blue with fluffy white clouds, and the temperatures mild and temperate. I can’t think of a better way to go into the long weekend. Especially now that I have these bars to keep me company.
Have a great long weekend, friends, and may the sun shine on you.
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- ½ cup coconut oil
- ½ cup chocolate chips
- 1 tsp instant coffee
- 1½ tsp pure vanilla extract
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- ½ cup strawberry preserves
- ½ tsp sea salt
- In a bowl, over a double boiler, melt the chocolate chips along with the coffee and ¼ cup of the coconut oil
- When the chocolate is nice and smooth, remove the bowl and add ½ cup of sugar and ½ tsp of vanilla extract. Mix.
- Add 1 cup of flour to the mixture and mix thoroughly. The dough should come together. If it's too crumbly, add a few sprinkles of water until it holds together.
- Lightly grease a 9-inch or 8-inch square baking pan.
- Place the dough in the center and, using your fingers, press out the dough into an even layer, going all the way to the corners.
- Set aside.
- In another bowl, mix the remaining coconut oil with the remaining powdered sugar and 1 tsp of vanilla extract.
- Add the remaining 1 cup of flour and mix thoroughly. Again, add a few sprinkles of water if the dough is too crumbly. You want it to just hold together.
- Put pieces of the dough on top of the layer of chocolate dough and again press into an even layer using your fingertips.
- Bake the shortbread in a 300-degree oven for 30 minutes.
- Remove the shortbread, spoon over the strawberry preserves and spread in an even layer, then return the pan to the oven and cook for another 15 minutes.
- Remove to a rack and using a sharp knife, score the shortbread to make bars. I make three scores horizontally and three vertically to make 16 bars. You can make them bigger or smaller.
- Cool the shortbread thoroughly on the rack, and when it's cool, use the knife to separate into squares.