Diced! Dessert Challenge Round 2 – Chocolate Almond Shortbread With Strawberry Balsamic Jam

Diced! Dessert Challenge – Round 2

The Diced! Dessert Challenge continues…

Each participant in round 2 won their first round and is ready to battle for more.

I will post a pairing each week on Wednesday and Thursday and open the polls for voting. The polls will be open from Thursday until the following Wednesday (before the next pair posts). The winner of each matchup with the most votes will move on to the next round and the chef will produce another recipe for their new matchup. The overall winner will receive any prizes I can acquire. To date the winner will receive:

This week’s pairing is:

Cookies with chocolate (JC) vs. Cupcakes (Jeanette) . JC beat out fudge to advance and Jenee beat out Others (doughnuts, cannoli, etc…). Today we have JC From The Birdcage Bakeshop with some yummy Chocolate Almond Shortbread With Strawberry Balsamic Jam

Pic Seven - Featured Size

There are a few foods that I love to make at home, and one includes cookies.

Especially chocolate cookies. Chocolate anything, really.

And jam.

There is something cathartic, familiar, and comforting about a pot full of seasonal fruit bubbling away on the stovetop; gently reducing into a pool of caramelized sugars and sweet fruit.

When I’m feeling fancy, I forgo the traditional shot of lemon juice I put into my weekly jam. Sometimes I use Balsamic Vinegar. Think about it. Lemon juice functions in the same way vinegar would. And balsamic vinegar is inherently on the sweeter side (provided you’ve invested in a high quality brand).

I’ve chosen to make a Chocolate Almond Thumbprint cookie for this round of Diced! Competition. The base of this cookie is very similar to shortbread in texture, it is light, buttery, with a delicate chocolate and almond flavor. To add interest, I’ve filled the Thumbprint with a puddle of sweet, slightly tangy Strawberry Balsamic Jam. Feel free to substitute an equal amount of store bought jam with a teaspoon of balsamic vinegar added. However, my go-to recipe for jam is really easy. You may even use frozen berries!

So, for this round you actually get a recipe for homemade jam AND chocolate cookies.


Pic One

PIC EIGHTThe chocolate base is creamed together

Pic TwoRoll dough into balls and set your filling nearby

Pic FourPress a ½ teaspoon into the middle of the dough ball.

Pic FiveFill with jam.

Pic SixTop with almonds, if desired


Chocolate Almond Shortbread With Strawberry Balsamic Jam

Makes 2 dozen cookies



¾ cup unsalted butter, softened

½ cup granulated sugar

2 egg yolks

1 ½ cups all-purpose flour

¼ cup cocoa powder, unsweetened

1 tsp. almond extract

1/3 cup Strawberry Balsamic Jam (see below)

OR an equal amount of jarred jam with ½ tsp. balsamic vinegar added

¼ cup sliced almonds (optional, for garnish)



  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In a medium bowl, using an electric hand mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until fluffy.
  3. Beat in egg yolks and almond extract until combined.
  4. Beat in flour and cocoa powder until combined.
  5. Roll dough into balls and place onto baking sheet. (The dough should be soft, but firm enough to roll into 24 balls measuring about 1”. Use a Tablespoon for easy portioning.)
  6. Using a ½ teaspoon measuring spoon, gently press bottom of spoon into middle of each ball to make an indentation. DO NOT PRESS ALL THE WAY DOWN.
  7. Using the ½ teaspoon measuring spoon, drop a heaping spoonful of jam into the indentation of each cookie. If using sliced almonds, place on top of jam.
  8. Bake at 375 for ten minutes, rotating baking sheets halfway through.
  9. All to cool and serve.



Makes approximately 8 ounces of jam


2 cups of strawberries, sliced

½ cup granulated sugar

1 T. Balsamic Vinegar

¼ cup water

1 T. pectin


1. In a medium saucepot, combine berries, sugar, balsamic vinegar, and water.

2. Using a potato masher or a fork, crush berries completely.

3. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring frequently. Add pectin to mixture and stir until combined.

4. Cook, on a low boil, for 2 – 3 minutes until liquids have reduced slightly.

5. Lower heat and allow to simmer, about 20 minutes, until jam is thickened.

6. Remove from heat and pour into heat-proof container. Cool completely and store in refrigerator, up to one week.


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Categories: Baking3, Chocolate, Dessert 2, Diced!, Fruit 2, Guest, kosher, Vegetarian

Author:The Ranting Chef

Check out the best recipes at rantingchef.com

2 Comments on “Diced! Dessert Challenge Round 2 – Chocolate Almond Shortbread With Strawberry Balsamic Jam”

  1. May 28, 2014 at 10:18 pm #

    Oh yum! I love pairing balsamic vinegar with berries. They make berry flavor pop!


  2. May 30, 2014 at 9:25 am #

    I could drink balsamic vinegar with a straw. Mmm


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