A Bicoastal Baking Party with Ginger Chocolate Shortbread

I know most of us are itching to get back real life and get past the COVID Zombie Apocalypse – I definitely am too. I will say, however, that there have been some positive aspects to the whole thing. One of my silver linings has been connecting with friends who are far away more regularly. Like a lot of people, I now have fairly regular standing zoom calls with several groups of friends. One such group is a circle of girlfriends that started as a book club when we all lived in New York. The group is now split between NY and the Bay Area – somehow it took this crisis for us to realize that we can still all get together regularly with video chats!

Also, like so many others, a lot of us have been amusing ourselves baking, so the idea arose to occasionally bake the same recipe as a way to do something together apart. My friend Jenny and I each took a stab at focaccia art for example, which you can read more about here.  My friend Bhavna and I have planned several baking explorations together, the first of which was this Ginger Chocolate Shortbread recipe that Bhavs found. 

Bhavna's dough and finished shortbread in the pan.

We tackled this recipe towards the beginning of the COVID-19, right at the point where there were all kinds of food supply chain problems and baking staples like flour were a hot commodity. I was definitely running into all kinds of shortages at home and had to get fairly creative in putting gathering ingredients for this recipe. While I very rarely stick to the recipe when I’m following a recipe for cooking, often taking them as more of a set of suggestions; I tend to be pretty faithful to recipe when baking, at least the first few times I make something. Baking is chemistry after all.

Since I was running low on so many things, I did a bunch of googling to figure out substitutions. I also didn’t have candied ginger, as the recipe called for, but did have pickled. I could’ve left it out completely, but in a bold move, I rinsed it a bit to lessen the pickled flavor, then cut it up finely and added it. Luckily, none of the pickled flavor came through in the final product.

My finished shortbread while still in the pan.
These little bars turned out fantastic! So easy and so tasty! The recipe proved very adaptable. I encourage you to take a look at the original recipe, but I’m going to share the version I made with all the baking gymnastics, to show that even in baking, there is some wiggle room. Where there’s a will there’s away!

For her part, Bhavna did not have to do quite as many baking gymnastics – she added vanilla and pecans to the original recipe and loved the results.


A cold glass of milk or a cup of coffee both are delicious with these cookie bars; however, if you’re looking for a nightcap to sip alongside these after dinner, tawny port also makes a perfect pairing.

I’ll try not to get too geeky about things today, but tawny ports are made from red grapes, just like ruby ports, but they’re aged for extended periods of time in wood barrels, allowing exposure to oxygen. The effects of this oxidation that turn brownish and start to take on nutty, spiced, caramelized flavors – a perfect match for the flavors in this spiced shortbread!

Note: This bottle of Warre's Otima 10 Year Old Tawny Port was sent as a media sample. No other compensation was received and all opinions are my own.

This Warre's Otima 10 Year Old Tawny Port is a perfect example, with notes of dried apricots and candied orange, spices, and lightly toasted nuts. It made fast friends with the shortbread. 

Click here for more info on this wine.

dessert, chocolate, cookies
Servings: about 25 cookies
Ginger Chocolate Shortbread

Ginger Chocolate Shortbread

Prep Time: 10 MCooking Time: 80 MTotal Time: 90 M


  • 1 cups all-purpose flour
  • ¾ cups whole wheat flour
  • ¼ cup cornstarch * (see note)
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • ¼ cup granulated white sugar
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla
  • Pinch on cinnamon
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • ¾ cup candied ginger, diced (I substituted in 1 Tbsp each powdered ginger and finely minced pickled ginger, rinsed of brine.)
  • *Note: I was actually a little under the ¼ cup of cornstarch. Based on substitution recommendations I found, I rounded it out with 2 Tbsps each of cake flour and powdered sugar and it worked out well.)


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C).
  2. Grease a 9-inch square metal baking pan. Set aside.
  3. In a small bowl, mix together flour, cornstarch, and salt.
  4. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add in the vanilla and cinnamon, followed by the flour mixture, beating just until smooth. Stir in chocolate chips and candied ginger. (If using ginger substitutes, mix in with the vanilla and cinnamon.)
  5. Spread batter in the prepared pan, smoothing top. Bake in preheated oven for 40 to 50 minutes or until golden brown on top and somewhat firm to the touch. A slight indentation should be left when you touch the top of the cookies.
  6. Let cool completely in pan on a rack. Invert pan onto a cutting board and cut into bars.


Variations: Try mixing in nuts with the batter when adding in chocolate and ginger. Also, try drizzling cooled cookies with melted chocolate
Did you make this recipe?
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