These chocolate shortbread bars are so tender and chocolatey. The creamy ricotta filling pairs really well with the sandy chocolate cookie crust and topping.
For those of you who like brownies, you are going to love these chocolate shortbread bars. They really remind me of brownies because they have that rich chocolate flavor and are cut into bars just like brownies. The creamy ricotta filling makes them even more delicious.
The sweet cheesy center is sandwiched in between the buttery and sandy chocolate crust and topping. It’s a very unique twist on brownies and cheesecake combined. The bars are tender and delicate, but sturdy enough to hold up a generous amount of filling. I purposely created this recipe to not be overwhelmingly sweet and heavy, instead going for a lighter feel, so you can enjoy more, without feeling heavy and getting a sugar rush.
How to Make Chocolate Shortbread Bars Video:
What is Chocolate Shortbread?
Shortbread is most commonly a cookie that has a really tender and sandy consistency. Chocolate shortbread has chocolate and/or cocoa added to make a delicious chocolate variation. Shortbread batter is based on creamed butter but doesn’t have any additional eggs or leaveners, like baking powder or baking soda. The amount of butter is what makes the cookies really tender and they don’t need baking powder to make them tender.
- butter, room temperature
- granulated sugar
- salt – salt in baked goods is the secret ingredient that accentuates the flavors
- vanilla extract
- melted chocolate – I use semisweet chocolate for this recipe. You can melt the chocolate in the microwave or using a double boiler (a heat proof bowl on top of a saucepan with some simmering water underneath) on the stovetop.
- all purpose flour
- unsweetened cocoa powder
- ricotta – I prefer using whole milk ricotta. You can also use farmer’s cheese, cottage cheese or farmer’s cheese for this recipe. Just use the same amount to substitute. If using cottage cheese, drain it first, if using cream cheese, make sure to bring it to room temperature before mixing. I also have a recipe for how to make homemade ricotta cheese; it would be fabulous in this recipe.
- granulated sugar
- vanilla extract
- additional melted chocolate to drizzle on top of the chocolate shortbread bars, optional
How To Make Chocolate Shortbread Bars
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Cream the butter and sugar until pale yellow and fluffy, then add the vanilla and cooled, melted chocolate. Mix to combine.
- Add the flour and cocoa powder and mix to combine.
- Set aside about 2 cups of the batter to be used for the topping. Place in the freezer to chill.
- Spread out the remaining chocolate shortbread batter in a 9 X 13 inch baking dish.
- Meanwhile, mix all the filling ingredients – the ricotta cheese, sugar, egg and vanilla extract until smooth.
- Pour the ricotta mixture over the crust, spreading it out in an even layer.
- When the shortbread for the topping is cold, grate it on a box grater in an even layer over the ricotta filling.
- Bake in the preheated oven for 40-50 minutes.
- Cool for about 15 minutes before cutting into bars. Drizzle the chocolate shortbread bars with additional melted chocolate, if you’d like.
- Use room temperature butter. This is really important. If the butter is too cold, you won’t be able to whip enough air into the butter when mixing with the sugar, which will give you dense shortbread that it’s as tender. If the butter is too warm, the shortbread will spread to much when baking, once again resulting in a texture that isn’t as delicate and soft.
- Line the baking dish with parchment paper or foil first so you can easily take the bars out of the baking dish if you want to cut them up and serve them on another serving dish. If you are planning on serving them right in the baking dish, you can skip this step.
- Use the back of a metal measuring cup when spreading out the chocolate shortbread batter in the baking dish or use clean hands.
- Use more ricotta filling. I’ve used up 1 1/2 pounds of ricotta cheese in the filling when I wanted to have a much cheesier, more pronounced cheesecake layer. You will need to bake the bars longer though.
- Do NOT use cocoa powder mix/hot chocolate mix instead of the unsweetened cocoa powder. It is not the same and has additional ingredients added to it, not straight unsweetened cocoa powder that is needed for baking. There is also additional sugar there, so it will make the chocolate shortbread too sweet.
- Flatten the reserved chocolate shortbread batter that you will use for the topping into a disc shape before chilling in the freezer, so that it chills faster and more evenly.
- Cool the baked shortbread bars for at least 15 minutes before cutting them into bars, otherwise it will be really messy. This will help to get nice, even pieces. Since there is a cheese filling in the center, it also helps to wipe your knife every so often on a paper towel in between slices.
Storing Chocolate Shortbread Bars
Store them at room temperature, covered, up to 3 days or in the refrigerator up to a week. Although they are so delicious, they usually get devoured really quickly.
Other Amazing Chocolate and Ricotta Recipes:
(One of my absolute favorites!) Ricotta Crumb Bars
(Such a tender cheesecake) Ricotta CheesecakePrint
Chocolate Shortbread Bars
These chocolate shortbread bars are so tender and chocolatey. The creamy ricotta filling pairs really well with the sandy and buttery chocolate crust and topping. They remind me of brownies but are much more tender.
- Prep Time: 25 mins
- Cook Time: 45 mins
- Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
- Yield: 36 bars 1x
- Category: Sweets
- 12 oz or 1 1/2 cups butter, softened to room temperature
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 8 oz semisweet chocolate, melted and slightly cooled
- 3 cups all purpose flour
- 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 pound farmer’s cheese or ricotta (творог)
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 4 oz melted semi sweet chocolate, to drizzle on top of the bars, optional
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a 13×9 inch baking pan with parchment paper or aluminum foil.
- Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy by mixing it on medium speed with the paddle attachment in a standing mixer or using a hand mixer until pale and fluffy, about 5 minutes.
- Add the vanilla extract and cooled, melted chocolate (you can melt it in the microwave or on low heat on the stove). Mix to combine.
- Add the flour, cocoa powder and salt, mix just until it’s incorporated, being careful not to over mix.
- Set aside 2 cups of chocolate shortbread batter and chill in the freezer for about 15 minutes.
- Spread the rest of the dough into prepared baking dish in an even layer.
- Meanwhile, make the filling by mixing all the ingredients together, the ricotta cheese, sugar, egg and vanilla extract.
- Pour the filling over the shortbread crust.
- Take out the reserved batter from the refrigerator and use the large holes on a box grater to grate it over the filling. If it’s too soft, you may want to put it in the freezer for 5-10 minutes.
- Bake for 40-50 minutes. Cool for about 15 minutes before cutting into bars. Drizzle with melted chocolate, if you’d like.
Keywords: chocolate shortbread recipe, chocolate shortbread bars, chocolate shortbread bars with ricotta filling, cheesecake brownies
This recipe was originally published on April 6, 2012. I have clarified the instructions and added a video to make it even better. Enjoy!