Need an easy, make-ahead shortbread cookie recipe for the holidays, Christmas, or just because? These buckwheat shortbread cookies with cocoa nibs are an easy slice-and-bake cookie recipe that stores well once baked. You can also make the cookie dough ahead, shape it into a log, and freeze it for later.
If you have never baked with buckwheat flour and cocoa nibs, you have to start with these simple shortbread cookies. This slice-and-bake cookie recipe is easy to make. The ingredients in this cookie are quite simple and you can throw it together in minutes. These cookies are the perfect backdrop to start exploring the flavour of buckwheat flour and cocoa nibs, and the texture they impart.
These slice-and-bake shortbread cookies with cocoa nibs are the cookies you want in your life. This is the best way to make a lot of shortbread cookies fast (once the dough is chilled). It's a different way to prepare shortbread than the traditional shortbread cookies that are pressed into a pan and scored before baking (like these lavender shortbread cookies baked in a tart pan).
Buckwheat Shortbread Cookie Ingredients
Slice-and-bake cookies are so easy to make and the basic ingredients for shortbread cookies are always butter, sugar, and flour. Here's what you'll need to make this variation with buckwheat flour and cocoa nibs:
- butter, preferably unsalted butter because you will add salt to the dough, but if you have salted, it will work. Just adjust the salt in the recipe accordingly, otherwise your cookies may be too salty
- granulated sugar though brown sugar would also work here and add to the molasses flavour. Brown sugar may also lead to a slightly thicker cookie
- vanilla extract adds depth of flavour and sweetness to these cookies. Don't skimp on this ingredient!
- cocoa nibs add texture and a deep chocolate flavour. Crunching on them before you add them to the cookie dough, you'll notice they are very bitter and not sweet at all. But that bitterness works so well in these cookies, balancing the buttery, sweet flavour.
- flour is needed to bind all the ingredients together and give the cookies structure, so they hold their shape. If you don't use enough flour, your cookies may spread too much as they bake, especially given the amount of butter you will use. For this recipe, we are using a combination of all-purpose flour with a small portion of buckwheat flour for flavour
- salt is really important to balance out the sweet buttery flavour. Don't skip it. I like to use Diamond Crystal fine kosher salt, but table salt will work, though the cookies will be saltier and you may want to halve the salt in that case.
See recipe card for ingredients and quantities.
You'll notice there are no leavening agents in this cookie recipe. Baking soda is a base (alkaline) and can cause your cookies to spread, which we don't want for this type of cookie. On the other hand, baking powder would cause the cookies to puff as they bake, and we don't want that either.
Substitutions and Variations
- Alternative flours: cookies made with 100 % alternative flour may spread more than with all-purpose flour. For this reason, we replaced only a portion of the all-purpose flour in a shortbread cookie recipe with buckwheat. Be careful when making this kind of substitution. Alice Medrich suggests in her books about alternative flours to swap out 15 to 20 percent of all-purpose flour for an alternative flour.
- Try corn flour, oat flour, sorghum flour, brown rice flour, teff, buckwheat, and even chestnut flour! Other wheat flour relatives like kamut, spelt, barley, whole wheat, and rye will also work. Baking with these alternative flours will up the flavour in your baking recipes, but may also change the texture and the colour of baked goods.
- Chocolate: you can replace the cocoa nibs with mini dark chocolate chips.
- Salt: a lovely garnish for these cookies would be flaky sea salt. You can sprinkle a little on each cookie before baking.
How to Make Slice-and-Bake Shortbread Cookies
It's best to prepare the cookie dough a day ahead of baking to give the time for it to chill. Plan ahead!
Step 1: Whisk the dry ingredients in a medium bowl (image 1). Combine the butter and sugar in your mixer bowl (image 2) and beat them together until well mixed.
Step 2: Add the cocoa nibs and vanilla extract to the mixer bowl (image 3) and mix it in. Be sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl fairly often (image 4) to ensure all the ingredients are mixed in.
Tip: using a spatula to scrape down the bowl is really important to make sure the ingredients are properly combined. Otherwise, you may end up with streaks of butter and sugar at the bottom of the bowl, or on the side, and these will lead to uneven spreading and as they bake, and textural problems in your baked cookies
Step 3: Add the dry ingredients to the mixer bowl (image 5) and stir them until a dough forms (image 6).
Step 4: Line your work surface with a large piece of plastic wrap and transfer the cookie dough to it (image 7). Shape the dough into a log and wrap tightly (image 8) to chill overnight.
Step 5: Slice the cookie dough into fairly thin rounds (around ¼ inch or 6 mm) using a chef's knife on a cutting board. The cold dough should be firm.
Tip: Rotate the log of dough every few slices to maintain the round shape of the log. If you don't, the bottom edge of the log will likely flatten out under pressure. If you don't, your cookies will have a more oval shape with a flatter edge.
Step 6: Place the sliced cookies on parchment-lined half-sheet pans, staggering them out to space them evenly (image 10). Bake until set and the edges are golden brown (image 11).
Slice-and-Bake Cookies Recipe FAQ
It's very important to chill the logs of cookie dough before slicing them. The butter will harden, making it easier for you to slice the cookie dough without distorting the round shape.
Chilling the dough is also very important to reduce cookie spread as they bake. The raw cookies need to be cold when they go into the oven so that the edges set before the butter melts.
You can make the cookie dough ahead and store it in the fridge for a few days. For longer storage, it will freeze well wrapped tightly. I like to place the wrapped cookie dough in a freezer bag (air removed) for extra protection. Defrost the log of cookie dough in the refrigerator overnight before using.
These shortbread cookies are what I call a "dry butter cookie." They store very well once baked. You can bake these ahead of time and store in a sealed, air-tight container in a cool, dry place for a month. The baked cookies also freeze well, but they can break so handle them with care.
Cocoa nibs (also written cacao nibs) are chopped bits of cocoa bean. They add a bitter chocolate flavour without adding any extra sugar to baked goods so they are one of the different types of chocolates for baking. Because cocoa nibs do not melt, cocoa nibs add a crunchy textural element to baking recipes.
Baking with Cocoa Nibs
If you wonder what you can bake with them, cocoa nibs are a great addition to cookie recipes. You can replace all (or a portion) of chocolate chips in any recipe with them for a deeper flavour. Add cocoa nibs to:
- plain shortbread cookies
- cut out sugar cookies
- vanilla sablé cookies
- chocolate sablé cookies
- slice-and-bake fruitcake cookies
Cocoa nibs could add a lot of crunchy texture and chocolate flavour without adding to the sweetness of the cookie. They are perfect in sweet cookies. I think cocoa nibs would work really well in sweet tart crusts too. Try adding them to this coffee sugar cookie crust or even in brownies with raspberries!
These cookies would be a hit on a Christmas cookie platter too. This recipe was adapted from Alice Medrich and was featured in the Food52 Genius Desserts cookbook by Kristen Miglore, which I highly recommend! I reviewed the Food 52 Genius Desserts book on the blog before and you can still buy it on Amazon.
If you tried this buckwheat shortbread cookie recipe (or any other recipe on my website), please leave a ⭐ star rating and let me know how it went in the comments below. I love hearing from you!
Buckwheat Shortbread Cookies with Cocoa Nibs
- Whisk together the flours in a medium bowl. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, sugar, and salt on medium until smooth and creamy but not fluffy, about 1 minute. Stir in cocoa nibs and vanilla. Add the flours and mix until no steaks of flour remain. Scrape the dough together onto a work surface lined with plastic wrap, knead a few times to mix until smooth.
- Roll the dough into a 12 by 2 inch (30 by 5 cm) log. Bundle the log in the plastic wrap, twisting the ends tightly to help even out the shape, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, preferably overnight. To help maintain its round shape, refrigerate the log in an empty paper towel roll or tall drinking glass.
- Heat the oven to 350ºF (175ºC), with racks in the upper and lower thirds. Line two large rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Slice the log into ¼-inch (~6 mm) rounds using a sharp knife. If you slice them on the thicker side, you will make less cookies and they will take longer to bake.
- Arrange the cookies on the baking sheets, spacing and staggering them. Leave at least an inch (2.5 cm) of space between them to allow air circulation because we want the shortbread cookies to dry out in the oven.
- Bake the cookies until the edges begin to brown, about 14 minutes, rotating the pans from top to bottom, back to front, halfway through the baking time. Let the cookies cool completely on the baking sheets on a rack. The cookies improve with time and can be stored in an airtight container for at least 1 month.
- Not sure where to get cocoa nibs? Cocoa nibs are often located in the organic food aisles of grocery stores, with other dried goods like grains, sugar, and baking ingredients.
- Be sure to weigh your ingredients to ensure you have the right ratio of butter-to-sugar-to-flour. Otherwise, your cookies may spread!
- This recipe combines buckwheat flour with all-purpose flour to ensure the cookies don't spread too much.
- You must chill the cookie dough for several hours until it is cold and solid. I prefer to chill it overnight to ensure the cookies will hold their shape through slicing and baking.
- To keep the sliced cookies round, turn the log every few slices to ensure you put equal pressure on all sides as you slice through the dough (as opposed to flattening out the bottom).
- You can store the dough in the fridge for several days or freeze it for longer-term storage (up to 6 months). Wrap the dough tightly with plastic wrap and place it in a freezer bag (air removed). Defrost the dough in the fridge overnight before slicing and baking.
- This recipe from Alice Medrich was published in the Food52 Genius Desserts book, written by Kristen Miglore (available on Amazon). The recipe was republished with permission from Ten Speed Press.