This recipe for Black Cocoa Shortbread Cookies will give you the most delicious sable cookie with a deep, dark, chocolate flavor using very dark cocoa powder. They have a delicate, crumbly, crunchy texture by using a crumbing method. The cut-out cookies can also be a great base for a cookie sandwich like oreo!
Dark Cocoa Powder
Yes, dark cocoa powder is the one thing that gives these cookies its black color. They really look black, that’s why I called them black cocoa cookies.
The dark cocoa powder gives the cookies not only their color but also that deep, bitter taste that is balanced out with sugar and butter, and that makes them pretty addictive. Imagine how kids go crazy for very sweet chocolate cookies, well, these are like a grown-up version.
What is black cocoa powder?
Black cocoa powder is a cocoa powder that has been heavily dutch-processed which results in a very dark color that you can take advantage of to make black colored desserts. Note that in some recipes it can’t just be swapped for natural cocoa powder.
In this case, you could swap the black cocoa powder with a natural or dutch-processed one, but it would change the taste, color and texture.
What does black cocoa taste like?
It has a deep, dark, roasted, bitter flavor. It also tastes a bit less chocolaty in comparison with regular dutch processed or natural cacao powder.
I did balance the flavor in these cookies even more by mixing the dark cocoa powder with normal dutch processed cocoa powder and that gives them a more chocolaty taste. You could use only the black cocoa powder but the flavor will be a bit different.
If these terms confuse you or you want more information on cocoa powder, the differences and how to use them check out this helpful article from David Lebovitz.
How to make Black Cocoa Shortbread Cookies
These cookies are made without eggs and leaveners.
The only ingredients you will need to make them are:
- dark/black cocoa powder and normal dutch processed cocoa powder
- powdered sugar
- vanilla extract
For making the cookies we use a crumbing method instead of the creaming method which is usually used when making cookies (you know, the one where you cream the butter, which has to be at room temperature, and sugar at the beginning).
What is the crumbing method?
With the crumbing method, you start by mixing together the dry ingredients; flour, cocoa powder, sugar, and salt. Then you add the cold butter piece by piece and mix it in to achieve a mixture resembling crumbs. I find this is the easiest to do by rubbing the butter into the flour with hands or blitzing the mixture in a food processor.
After that, you add the vanilla (optional) and just enough water that the dough comes together.
Shape the cookie dough in a disk, wrap in cling film and place in the fridge to chill.
This method provides a very crunchy, crumbly, delicate texture that I love in this cookie.
Oreos are the most recognizable sandwich cookies that use the dark cocoa powder which gives them their signature black color. This recipe gives you the base cookie that you can fill with buttercream (or ganache) and you have yourself DIY Oreo cookies! Plus you can make them any flavor you want. I made some with matcha and some with freeze-dried strawberries.
Play around with fillings and make some awesome black cacao sandwich cookies.
What’s even more fun is that this cookie dough is rolled out and the shapes are cut out, so you can make them any shape you want! Stars, hearts, circles, squares or even more exotic and seasonal shapes like gingerman, candy cane, snowflake, squirrel, whatever cookie cutters you have.
How to store shortbread cookies
How much in advance can I prepare the cookie dough?
The cookie dough is eggless so it can last quite long in the fridge, at least a week or a few months in the freezer (about 3).
How do I store baked dark cocoa cookies?
It’s best to keep the baked cookies in an airtight container in a dry and dark place. They could keep for a few weeks but of course the fresher the better.
Tips for baking dark cocoa sable cookies
- The cookies will unevenly puff up, so when they come out of the oven you have to press them down with something flat (like a cake server) for a few seconds and they will be straight when they cool off. It’s like ironing cookies. It’s a must for flat cookies! Or you can try to place a heavy pan on them and wait for them to cool like that.
- When rolling the cookie dough, make sure it’s firm but still soft enough to roll.
- Try to roll the dough as least as possible. When the dough gets worked up it changes the texture.
- Roll the dough to 4-5 mm thickness.
- Roll the dough between two parchment papers lightly sprinkled with flour or cocoa powder (to keep the really black color)
If you use flour, make sure to brush it off as much as you can before baking.
- Because the cookies are so dark you can’t tell by the color when they are done. They should be done in 12-14 minutes.
- Sandwich them with some buttercream for awesome dark cocoa sandwich cookies like oreos.
- You can also dip them in chocolate and sprinkle with nuts or freeze-dried fruit.
After trying these Black Cocoa Shortbread Cookies check out some more cookie favorites on this blog:
- Flourless and fudgy chocolate walnut cookies
- Walnut Meringue Cookies
- Cinnamon cookies with a lemon glaze
- White chocolate and macadamia cookies
The measurements are in grams but you can convert them into cups by clicking the button in the recipe card.
I still always recommend using a scale and the metric system as it is more reliable and precise.
The black cocoa shortbread cookies are really addictive and they have an amazing texture and taste really complex. They are eggless, easy to make cookies that you can use as a base for home-made oreos.
Enjoy the recipe 🙂
Black Cocoa Shortbread Cookies
- 210 g flour
- 25 g black cocoa powder dutch processed
- 15 g cocoa powder dutch processed
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 70 g powdered sugar
- 170 g butter cold
- 1 tsp vanilla extract optional
- 1/2 – 1 tbsp water
- Sift together the flour, both cocoa powders and sugar in a bowl.
- Add salt and mix.
- Add the cold butter in little pieces and then work them into the flour mixture with your hands, or blitz the mixture in a food processor. You want to get something resembling breadcrumbs. This is called the crumbing method.
- Now add the vanilla extract and just enough water so that the dough comes together. You may need from 1/2 tbsp to 1 tbsp of water so add it slowly, mix the dough and see if you need more.
- Shape the dough into a disk and wrap it into cling film. Place in the fridge for 10-20 minutes, enough to make the dough firmer but soft enough to roll it.
- Preheat the oven to 180 °C and prepare a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
- Dust a clean surface or a parchment paper with cocoa powder (to keep the color of the cookies), place your cookie dough disk on top and dust it with cocoa powder (you can use another parchment paper on top).
- Roll the dough to about 4 mm thickness. Run a spatula under the dough to make sure it's not stuck.
- Cut out desired shapes and place them on the prepared baking sheet. They do not really spread out and keep their shape so you can place them fairly close.
- Re-roll the remaining dough, cut out cookies and repeat until you have no dough left.
- Bake for 12-13 minutes.
- As soon as they come out of the oven, flatten them out with something flat (I used a cake server, pressed on the cookie and moved it around the cookie almost like ironing them), or you could place another flat and heavy tray on top of them.
- Wait for them to cool completely and then you can enjoy, or fill them with buttercream.
- The black cocoa powder can be all swaped with natural or dutch processed cocoa powder but the color and taste will be different.
- Vanilla extract could be left out.
- The flattening of the cookie is necesseary if you want flatter cookies, if you don’t mind little bumps, this step can be skipped.
- The dark cocoa shortbread cookies are a great base for a cookie sandwich. Fill them with buttercream or ganache.
- Store them in an airtight container.