Holiday recipe to pair with that great red wine!

Christmas, New Year’s, Hannukah, Kwanza... whatever and wherever you celebrate this time of year: we’re all looking for ideas for food to serve when friends and family arrive.

About a year and a half ago, I was working in a winery close to home in Niagara, and one of the wines we had available was a wine made out of Cabernet Franc. When wine from Cabernet Franc grapes is made well, it’s absolutely delicious and this wine was made well! It was smokey with hints of cherry and chocolate and even coffee.

So one day I came home and thought, “Hmmm... I know that the winery sells chocolate shortbread so how hard could it be to create my OWN version of chocolate shortbread that would work well with this Cabernet Franc?” So I started to experiment. After a few attempts I came up (yes, I am claiming this recipe as my own) with what I think is a super-duper, not-too-sweet chocolate shortbread that I am happy to serve with wines made from Cabernet Franc grapes. I’ve also served the shortbread with a wine from South Africa made from Pinotage grapes that also had a very smokey, mocha flavour.

Because this shortbread recipe is not too sweet, it would pair well with any wine that has smokey, chocolate characteristics. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

1st attempt at Shortbread

1st attempt at Shortbread

Chocolate Bacon Shortbread


(Have parchment paper available.)

  • 1 lb of unsalted butter
  • 2 strips of 50% salt-reduced bacon fried until crisp enough to cut into tiny pieces
  • As much fat as you can drain out of the frying pan from the bacon (I cheated and fried more bacon - probably about 8 pieces which gave me about 6 Tbsp of fat). If you don’t want to use bacon, add another ¼ c of butter
  • 1 cup of brown sugar
  • 6 Tbsp of ground espresso coffee beans
  • 1 tsp of salt
  • 6 Tbsp of cocoa powder
  • 2 Tbsp of liquid smoke (optional)
  • 1 square (1 oz) of semi-sweet baker's chocolate, finely grated
  • 4 cups of all-purpose flour


  • Cream the butter until soft and fluffy.
  • Slowly add the bacon fat and continue creaming.
  • Add the brown sugar and continue creaming.
  • Add the coffee, salt, and cocoa powder, liquid smoke, and continue creaming.
  • Stir in the grated baker's chocolate.
  • Cut the fried bacon into the smallest pieces you can. Chop them and then chop them again. Stir them into the mix.
  • Mix in the flour. Do NOT over-mix. The batter should be stiff enough so that you can create a ball or log but not so stiff that it doesn't hold it shape.
  • Divide the batter into thirds. Shape each third into a log about 1.5 inches in diameter and wrap each in parchment paper. Chill until firm (about 3 hours or overnight).
  • When you are ready to bake the shortbread, preheat oven to 275 degrees (that is NOT a typo - I mean 275! You want the shortbread to bake slowly. It is very delicate.)
  • Cut each log into rounds about 1/4 inch thick. Don't make them too thin because you don't want them to burn. Place the rounds on an ungreased baking pan. Bake for about 20 to 25 minutes. The cookies will be slightly soft to the touch. They will not be browned on the bottom.
  • Cool until ready to eat. If there are any left over, freeze them!
  • And finally, pull out that great bottle of red wine you have and indulge. Invite friends over (or not). Sip and savour.