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Shortbread with Cacao Nibs

December 16, 2020

Shortbread with Cacao Nibs


I’m a huge fan of shortbread. There’s something about a buttery, soft, not too sweet cookie that just sounds perfect to me. Adding things to shortbread mixes is fun, but I don’t tend to like changing it too much. Because one of my favourite things about shortbread is that it isn’t too sweet, cacao nibs are a really great choice. They add a slight chocolate flavour without overwhelming the buttery taste, or making the cookies too sweet. These cookies are perfect with a cup of tea or coffee too!

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Buttery Shortbread cookies, dotted with chocolate cacao nibs from Hummingbird Chocolate. These are perfect alongside a tea or coffee.

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Cacao Nibs

So for those of you who are new to cacao nibs, they normally are turned into chocolate. During the chocolate making process, cacao beans are roasted and broken into small pieces. Those pieces are called nibs. The nibs would be ground into a paste (similar to nut butter) and then ground down further, and have sugar added. That makes the chocolate. But the nibs themselves are very tasty all on their own.

Nibs aren’t sugary, but they are intensely chocolatey. On their own they can be a little too intense for some folks. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t add them to your baking! The nibs in this shortbread add a delicious chocolatey crunch, and no extra sweetness. I also add them to things like granola, and as a nut replacement into cookies and brownies.

Shortbread with Cacao Nibs

I get my nibs from my work (Hummingbird Chocolate). Any variety is great, they will all add the intense chocolate flavour and yummy crunch. Because we are constantly making chocolate, the nibs are always super fresh. Nibs that I’ve bought in the past at bulk stores or even the grocery store can be a bit stale and bitter tasting.

Shortbread with Cacao Nibs

Thick Shortbread

So when I make this recipe, I use a 9×9 pan, and the cookies are thick. I love big chonky shortbread cookies, so that’s why I use the smaller pan. If you prefer your shortbread a little thinner, simply press the dough into a larger pan. A 9×13 would probably thin them out nicely without making them too crisp.

For cutting the cookies, I suggest using a good serrated knife, and to cut them while they are still slightly warm. Be gentle, but cut with confidence. Then let the cookies fully cool once they’ve been cut.

Shortbread with Cacao Nibs

For some more cookie recipes why not check out this absolutely delish Fig Newtons recipe. And for more chocolatey goodness definitely make yourself some of these Chocolate Biscotti.

Shortbread with Cacao Nibs

Buttery and thick shortbread cookies, dotted with chocolatey cacao nibs.
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Course Brunch, Cookies, Dessert
Cuisine American, canadian, Scottish
Servings 24 cookies


  • 1 lb Butter Softened
  • 1 1/4 cup Icing Sugar
  • 2 tsp Vanilla
  • 4 cups All purpose Flour
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 1 1/3 cup Cacao Nibs


  • Heat the oven to 325F. Line a 9×9 or a 9×13 pan with parchment paper, leaving some paper overhanging the sides, to life it out later.
  • In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until it's pale and fluffy. Add the vanilla. stir to combine.
  • Sift in the the flour and salt. Add the nibs. Stir to combine. The dough will be a bit crumbly, and you don't want to handle it too much. But give it a few presses and kneads, to make sure it's sticking together.
  • Press the dough firmly into your chosen pan. Try to flatten and even out the top.
  • Bake for about an hour. The top should look dry and slightly golden. Rotate the pan halfway through as well.
  • Cool in the pan for about 15 minutes. Then gently remove from the pan using the parchment paper overhang. Once they are just cool enough to touch, cut them using a serrated knife, like a bread knife. I cut them into 4 rows of 8, but cut them to any size you want.
  • Allow the cut cookies to cool fully on a wire rack. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 weeks. These cookies also freeze really well in a sealed container or bag for about 3 months.
Keyword Cacao, Cacao Nibs, Shortbread

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