Adventures in Recipe Testing, Part 2: In Which I Make Some “Scrummy” Chocolate Swirl Shortbread That Turns Out Pretty Crummy

Some time ago, I wrote about testing a spanakopita recipe for Leite’s Culinaria, and the disaster that ensued. Well, today I experienced round two.

S and I are going to a barbecue tonight (look for a post about it tomorrow—these people take their ‘cue seriously so I’m expecting good things), so I thought I’d bake some cookies to bring along. I haven’t baked in a long time, partly because I’m on Weight Watchers and I don’t want it around the house, and partly because I just haven’t had the time. Here was the perfect excuse—plus, there was a recipe on Leite’s testers’ list that sounded quite good, and quite simple: Scrummy Chocolate Swirl Shortbread, from Green & Black’s Chocolate Recipes: From the Cacao Pod to Muffins, Mousses and Moles by Caroline Jeremy. It only had six ingredients: flour, salt, sugar, butter, cocoa, and dark chocolate. The basic idea was to make two extremely simple shortbread doughs—one plain, one with cocoa, roll them out separately and layer them, then sprinkle chopped chocolate on top, roll the whole thing up tight, slice, and bake. It looked like pinwheely fun—I’ve always liked the appearance of double-dough cookies, but I don’t have much experience with them. This one, alas, did not turn out well.

Oh, I know, that picture up there’s a beauty, and the end result definitely tasted good (4 points a cookie, if you’re doing WW and you’re curious). But (you knew there was a but, didn’t you?) the recipe itself didn’t exactly work. Out of eighteen cookies, exactly eight came out looking even remotely like the one above. The dough was far too crumbly and ornery, and all that chocolate sprinkled in the middle kept the layers from holding together. The rest looked more like this:

Blobby and prone to falling apart when picked up. Not exactly the kind of thing you want to bring to a party, is it? We’ll be picking up a bottle of wine instead. Meanwhile, though, I’ve still got 16 more yummy-ugly cookies to dispose of…