These shortbread brownies combine two classic desserts for the ultimate bar recipe. The shortbread base is buttery and tender and the brownie on top is rich, fudgy and perfectly decadent.
It’s no secret that I love brownies – and these shortbread brownies may just be my new favourite recipe. The combination of tender, melt-in-your mouth shortbread and fudgy, verging on gooey brownie is to die for. The shortbread is buttery and not too sweet – just like shortbread should be. Then the brownie layer has a rich, dark chocolate flavor that pairs perfectly with the almost gooey texture.
The combination of shortbread and brownies is rich enough already, so I didn’t want these bars to be too sweet.
Making Shortbread Brownies
Below – I’m taking you through some recipe tips and tricks along with step-by-step photos.
First, you’ll make the shortbread layer. You’ll beat together slightly softened butter with the sugar. Then mix in the flour, cornstarch and salt. You want the butter to still be slightly cold for this shortbread recipe – it will be more difficult to mix everything together, but it will give the shortbread a better texture.
Note that the dough will be crumbly and it will be difficult to incorporate all of the flour into the butter mixture.
You’ll press the dough into your prepared pan. I use a sheet of wax paper to press the dough down into an even layer. Then prick the dough with a fork – you should not go deep enough to hit the bottom of the pan.
Then the shortbread crust will bake on it’s own for about 18-20 minutes, or until the top looks set and the edges are just starting to become golden.
As the shortbread layer is baking, it’s time to make the brownie batter. I wanted these brownies to have a rich, chocolate flavor without being overly sweet – which is why I used 70% dark chocolate. If you prefer a sweeter brownie, feel free to use semi-sweet chocolate or 50% dark chocolate.
- You’ll first melt together the butter and dark chocolate. It’s important the chocolate is very finely chopped for easier melting. If using a microwave, always go in short bursts for about 45 seconds on medium power and stir between each interval. Alternatively, you can use a double boiler.
- Let the mixture cool slightly – then whisk in the eggs, granulated sugar, and vanilla extract. Just make sure the chocolate isn’t hot to the touch (warm is ok) – otherwise, the eggs can curdle.
- Sift in the flour, cocoa, and salt. I especially like to sift in the cocoa powder since cocoa can be pretty lumpy. Then whisk the batter together, stopping as soon as you no longer see streaks of flour/cocoa.
- Then pour the brownie batter over the baked shortbread crust and smooth into an even layer.
Then you’ll pop the brownies back into the oven for another 22 minutes or so or until the top looks set and an inserted toothpick comes out clean or with a few damp crumbs. Bake time will vary based on your oven and also based on how gooey you like your brownies.
Pro Tip: I always recommend waiting for brownies to cool fully before slicing. This allows the brownies to set properly and ensures cleaner cuts. When the brownies are fully cooled, you’ll lift them out of the pan using the overhang of the parchment paper/aluminum foil. Then slice with a thin, sharp knife and wipe off the knife after each cut. I never slice these shortbread brownies with a table knife because I don’t find they properly slice the shortbread.
The flavor combination of buttery shortbread and rich chocolate brownie is truly to die for – and the texture of the shortbread and fudgy brownie make for one delicious treat.
For more decadent brownies, be sure to try:
- Mocha Brownies with Coffee Frosting
- Cheesecake Brownies
- Pumpkin Pie Brownies
- Peanut Butter Cheesecake Brownies
- 8x8 inch (20x20 cm) pan
- ⅔ cup unsalted butter (150 grams) slightly softened but still a bit cold to the touch (it should not be starting to melt
- ⅓ cup granulated sugar (67 grams)
- 1 ¼ cup all-purpose flour (156 grams) measured correctly
- 1 teaspoon cornstarch AKA cornflour
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup unsalted butter (112 grams) cut into cubes
- 5 ounces dark chocolate (142 grams) finely chopped, I recommend 50-70%
- 1 cup granulated sugar (200 grams)
- 2 large eggs room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ cup all-purpose flour (63 grams)
- 3 tablespoons cocoa powder (16 grams)
- ½ teaspoon salt
- Preheat the oven to 325F (170C).
- Lightly spray an 8x8 inch (20x20 cm) pan with baking spray. Then line with parchment paper so that there is an overhang around the edges. Spraying the pan first helps the paper stay in place. Alternatively, line with aluminum foil, leaving an overhang around the edges.
- Beat together the butter and sugar until combined.
- Then beat in the flour, salt and cornstarch. Beat together until the flour is incorporated. The mixture should be dry and crumbly.
- Pour/dump the mixture into the prepared pan. Press into an even layer. It will be slightly difficult to do this. I recommend using a piece of wax paper between the dough and your hands to press it down.
- Prick the top of the shortbread with the tines of a fork (maybe 8-10 rows of 6-8 pricks). Do not go so deep that you touch the bottom of the pan.
- Bake in the preheated oven for about 16-18 minutes, or until the top looks set and the edges may just be starting to turn golden.
- Remove from the oven.
- Once the shortbread is out of the oven, turn the oven to 350F (180C).
- Add the butter and finely chopped chocolate to a heatproof bowl. Microwave on medium power (not high power, which is often the default) for 45-second intervals. Remove from the microwave and stir between each interval until fully melted. Alternatively, melt in a double boiler over gently simmering water.
- Let the mixture sit for a few minutes so that it isn't hot. Then whisk in the sugar, eggs and vanilla extract.
- Sift in the flour, cocoa and salt. Gently mix the batter together until you no longer see streaks or clumps of flour or cocoa.
- Pour the batter over the baked shortbread crust - be careful, the pan will be hot. Then spread into an even layer.
- Bake in the preheated oven for around 22-24 minutes, or until the top is set and an inserted toothpick comes out clean or with a few damp crumbs. Note that bake time will vary depending on your oven and how gooey you like your brownies.
- Cool fully before slicing. When ready to slice, lift the cooled brownies out of the pan using the overhang of the parchment paper. Place on a cutting board, peel back the sides of the parchment paper and slice using a sharp knife.
- Butter: Be sure to use real butter and not margarine for this recipe. Salted butter is fine to use - just omit the salt from the recipe. You want the butter to be slightly softened, but still a little cool to the touch.
- Flour: Be sure to measure correctly - otherwise the shortbread layer will be too dry. Whisk first, then spoon into a dry measuring cup and level off the top. For the most accurate results, measure in grams using a scale.
- Chocolate: I prefer to use something between 65-75% for this recipe, but anything between 50-75% will work. Use semi-sweet for sweeter brownies. I don't recommend using anything stronger than 75% because the brownies can become bitter.
- Storage: Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days. Baked and cooled brownies can be wrapped tightly, placed in a freezer bag or container and frozen. Always thaw in the fridge.
- Nutrition: Details provided are an estimate only and based on 1 brownie, assuming the pan is sliced into 12 uniform pieces.