Recipe: The shortbread cookie that broke the internet

Natalie Abber/Staff

If you have a pulse and an Instagram account, or engage with food media in any capacity, you’re probably already well-aware of the internet craze that is Alison Roman’s salted butter chocolate chunk shortbread cookies. A mouthful indeed, these cookies were first featured in Roman’s cookbook “Dining In,” which came out in October 2017. I’m not exaggerating when I say that since then, these cookies have popped up in my life and on my social media in some capacity at least once a day. Every. Single. Day. This elevated chocolate chip cookie is to the food world what the Kim K Paper magazine cover was to, well, the entire world. Point being, everyone (and I mean everyone, including Eater, Bon Appetit, the New York Times and Smitten Kitchen) cannot stop talking about a deceptively simple cookie recipe.

As a purist when it comes to chocolate chip cookies, I had my doubts that anything could really beat the Toll House recipe I’ve had memorized since age 11 (note: I double the amount of vanilla and have been known to add rainbow sprinkles because more is more). Nothing in this world compares to the brown crisp edges that taste like butterscotch and the gooey center of a traditional chocolate chip cookie … except for maybe this one. In honor of Valentine’s Day coinciding with a roommate’s birthday last week, our house had plans for a “dining in” Bananagrams/”Sex and the City” extravaganza. It was as if a higher power (aka my equally food-obsessed roommate) was calling on me to finally jump on the bandwagon and give these cookies a go.

So, here we are. The recipe is incredibly simple — mostly butter, sugar and chocolate — but a little more complicated if you don’t have the right equipment. You, like me, and like all college students, probably don’t have a standing mixer, pastry brush or interest in buying premium French finishing salt. Fear not! We got creative and used two wooden spoons, and then ultimately two forks, to help the dough come together, and we used a basic sea salt grinder in lieu of flaky sea salt to finish. Our finished products ended up spreading out a little more than they were supposed to (I blame our improvised mixing for melting the butter a bit), but they were SO insane that I stood huddled around the hot sheet pan, inhaling, before I removed myself from the scene. That said, these cookies taste even better the next day — as breakfast with a cup of coffee. Being an adult rocks.

While I don’t usually subscribe to food trends, these are an extraordinary exception. The buttery crumb of a shortbread, the melty chocolate of a childhood favorite, and a touch of salt because we’re sophisticated! A dream! Midterms got you down? Make these. Forgot to get your girlfriend something heartfelt for Valentine’s Day? Make these. Over your New Year’s resolution to cut out sugar? Make these. Honestly, whatever you do, just make these!


1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (2¼ sticks) cold salted butter, cut into ½-inch pieces
½ cup granulated sugar
¼ cup (packed) light brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2¼ cups all-purpose flour
6 ounces semisweet or bittersweet dark chocolate, chopped (but not too fine — you want chunks, not thin shards of chocolate)
1 large egg, beaten to blend
Demerara sugar (for rolling)
Flaky sea salt


Using an electric mixer and a medium bowl or a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla on medium-high speed until super light and fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes.

Using a spatula, scrape down sides of bowl. With mixer on low speed, slowly add flour, followed by chocolate chunks, and beat just to blend.


Divide dough in half, then place each half on a large piece of plastic wrap. Fold plastic over to cover dough and protect your hands from getting all sticky. Using your hands (just like you’re playing with clay), form dough into a log shape; rolling it on the counter will help you smooth it out, but don’t worry about getting it totally perfect. Each half should form a log that is 2–2¼ inches in diameter. Chill until firm, about 2 hours.


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet (two, if you’ve got them) with parchment paper. Brush outside of logs with egg wash. Roll logs in Demerara sugar (this is for those really delicious crispy edges).

Slice each log into ½-inch-thick rounds. Arrange on prepared baking sheet about 1 inch apart (they won’t spread much). Sprinkle with sea salt. Bake cookies until edges are just beginning to brown, 12 to 15 minutes. Let cool slightly before eating them all.

Do Ahead: Cookie dough can be made 1 week ahead. Tightly wrap in plastic and chill, or freeze up to 1 month. Cookies can be baked 5 days ahead. Store in plastic wrap or an airtight container.


Recipe by Reprinted From Dining In. Copyright © 2017 By Alison Roman. Photographs Copyright ©2017 By Michael Graydon And Nikole Herriott. Published By Clarkson Potter/Publishers, An Imprint Of Penguin Random House, LLC.

Contact Natalie Abber at [email protected].