Chocolate Shortbread Bars

These chocolate shortbread bars are so tender and chocolatey. The creamy ricotta filling pairs really well with the sandy chocolate cookie crust and topping.

Chocolate Shortbread Bars with a creamy ricotta filling

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.

Ingredients:

Chocolate shortbread:

  • 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 Filling:

  • 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
  • egg
  • additional melted chocolate to drizzle on top of the chocolate shortbread bars, optional

How To Make Chocolate Shortbread Bars

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Cream the butter and sugar until pale yellow and fluffy, then add the vanilla and cooled, melted chocolate. Mix to combine.
  3. Add the flour and cocoa powder and mix to combine.
  4. Set aside about 2 cups of the batter to be used for the topping. Place in the freezer to chill.
  5. Spread out the remaining chocolate shortbread batter in a 9 X 13 inch baking dish.
  6. Meanwhile, mix all the filling ingredients – the ricotta cheese, sugar, egg and vanilla extract until smooth.
  7. Pour the ricotta mixture over the crust, spreading it out in an even layer.
  8. When the shortbread for the topping is cold, grate it on a box grater in an even layer over the ricotta filling.
  9. Bake in the preheated oven for 40-50 minutes.
  10. Cool for about 15 minutes before cutting into bars. Drizzle the chocolate shortbread bars with additional melted chocolate, if you’d like.
Chocolate Shortbread Bars tutorial

Helpful Tips:

  • 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:

Homemade Ricotta Cheese

Ricotta Crumb Bars

Ricotta Cheesecake

Ricotta Pancakes

Chocolate Ricotta Cheesecake

Print

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.

  • Author: Olga’s Flavor Factory
  • Prep Time: 25 mins
  • Cook Time: 45 mins
  • Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
  • Yield: 36 bars 1x
  • Category: Sweets

Ingredients

Scale

Chocolate shortbread:

  • 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

Ricotta Filling:

  • 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

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a 13×9 inch baking pan with parchment paper or aluminum foil.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Add the flour and salt, mix just until it’s incorporated, being careful not to over mix.
  5. Set aside 2 cups of chocolate shortbread batter and chill in the freezer for about 15 minutes.
  6. Spread the rest of the dough into prepared baking dish in an even layer.
  7. Meanwhile, make the filling by mixing all the ingredients together, the ricotta cheese, sugar, egg and vanilla extract.
  8. Pour the filling over the shortbread crust.
  9. 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.
  10. 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

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This recipe was originally published on April 6, 2012. I have clarified the instructions and added a video to make it even better. Enjoy!

54 Comments

    • Olga K.

      Thanks, Natasha. I get the ideas from cookbooks and the internet, where there is no end to creativity. It’s not something I’m naturally good at, so I really appreciate hearing that it turns out looking good:)

      • Natasha of Natashaskitchen.com

        I feel like I’m just starting to learn how to take good pictures. I wish it was just point and click!! 🙂 I think this photo is foodgawker quality!

  • Terra Baltosiewich (@CafeTerraBlog)

    What a beautiful idea to add ricotta with the chocolate shortcake, I bet the flavor combination is amazing! Beautiful, Take care, Terra

  • Tatyana V

    Olga, Hi! This looks delicious but I have a question before I make it. Did the batter need any eggs (I would think that it holds the batter together) or this is the recipe without the eggs?
    Thank you…

  • Gloria

    I came across your blog while looking for desserts to impress. I am very excited to try a few of them out. Thanks so much for posting these great recipes, with photos and step by step instructions. Keep it up.

  • Natasha

    Olga I have a question, do u have to store them in the fridge or not? im planning on making them as soon as im out of work, looks so delish, thank you for sharing. I will be using farmers cheese.

  • Natalia P.

    Olga, these are delicious!!! Not too sweet or heavy, so we don’t feel guilty enjoying more than few 🙂 Chocolate liquor adds a great flavor, and we love the ricotta cheese filling. What a great idea …thank you:)

  • Natasha

    These are sooo good… I made it like 5 times already. My family loves it and always ask to me to make it again. One of my favorite desserts now. Thank you again for sharing.

    • olgak7

      Wow! That’s awesome. It’s actually on my list to make in the next few weeks. I absolutely love the combination of farmer’s cheese with just about anythign, and chocolate is absolutely divine with it:).

    • olgak7

      Hi Orysya,
      I don’t typically make these types of desserts ahead of time, since they are so easy to make and we love eating them straight from the oven, while it’s still warm:). I’ve never had the leftovers last for more than a few days.

  • Vita

    Hello Olga! I recently found your blog and these bars were the first thing I made. They turned out delicious and they taste so light! I’m planning on making your honey- garlic glazed meatballs and pumpkin cheesecake this weekend. Thank you for shearing your recipes!!! Everything looks amazing!

  • Ilona

    Hi Olga,
    these looks so good. I am planning to try making this recipe. i just have a question. When they are all done, do you just pretty much cut it in squares and scoop it from the dish. And if so, do you do it right before taking it from the oven, and it doesn’t stick to the aluminum foil?

    • olgak7

      Ilona, I cut the bars and take them out of the pan with the help of a thin spatula. You can do it as soon as the bars cool for 5-10 minutes, or later on when they are completely cool. It doesn’t matter. They shouldn’t stick to the aluminum foil. At least, they never do for me.

  • Ilona

    Thank You Olga,
    they didn’t stick to the aluminum foil and i had no trouble taking them out.. I brought this to a work potluck and everyone loved them

  • Luba

    Hi Olga, do you like it better with ricotta or farmers cheese? If I use farmers cheese do I have to mix it extra, cause farmers cheese is more chunkier than ricotta. I have two packs of farmers cheese in the fridge that is asking to be used in this yummy looking dessert :))

  • Mary

    In the chocolate shortbread ingredients, it says 4-8 oz chocolate. Is this 4 to 8 oz or 32 oz total? These look fantastic and I can’t wait to try them!

  • Nata

    Hi Olga! I’d like to make these cookies for my husband’s office party….will omitting the liquor change the taste of the cookies much? Will they still taste yummy? 🙂

  • Oksana

    They are so delicious. My friends and co-workers tried them and they were amazed at how wonderful these bars were. I believe that the key ingredient is melted chocolate (I used dark chocolate). Also I substituted farmer’s cheese for cream cheese. They turned out yummy anyway. Thank you for this recipe

  • Tonya

    I’ve had my eye on these for a while and I finally got around to making them!!! They are so so good! Not too sweet and I love the ricotta filling. The recipe also comes together fairly quickly! Will definitely make these more often!

  • Natasha

    Olga, do the leftovers need to be refrigerated if not eaten on the same day (the day they’re baked)? I usually don’t, but now I’m questioning myself 😊. This is my kids’ favorite dessert and I’ve made it a lot. Thank you for the recipe!

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