There are simply too many cookie opportunities and not enough time to make and share them all…
However, this little number, Orange Chocolate Chip Shortbread, was made right after I made Spiced Shortbread. You might say I’m on a bit of a shortbread kick. Why? Because it’s such an easy cookie to whip up.
I mentioned in the Spiced Shortbread post that I don’t usually make a lot of shortbread, even though I love it. I broke the seal on that with the spiced version and was so pleased with the ease of making it and the delicious outcome, I am now on that aforementioned “kick.” I want to make aaaallll the shortbread. Every flavor, all the time.
It’s no wonder I adore it so. It’s such a close cousin to the scones I love to make…rich, buttery scones. In fact, I use the same process of cutting in the butter and then working it in with my hands. Don’t let that little step intimidate you. It’s not hard. Really. And, it’s kind of therapeutic. Actually, baking in general is therapeutic for me. It forces me to focus on just the work at hand.
I wanted a completely different flavor for this shortbread version; I had no less than one million ideas, but I decided to go with orange and chocolate. That wouldn’t have been my choice a few years ago. I liked orange and chocolate well enough, but I would never really choose to eat it if I had another choice. It’s like that orange shaped chocolate candy that pops up this time of year. I always look at it, think about trying it, and then move on to something else. I like orange. I like chocolate. I like other fruits with chocolate, I just never decided to go full force on the whole orange chocolate combo.
But a few years ago, my friend gave me a little box of Christmas treats she had made. In that box, among some other delicious confections, were candied orange peels dipped in chocolate. She had talked to me about it while she was making it. We generally share our baking and sweet making endeavors. I’m always interested in what she’s making, and this time was no different.
When I received the box, I thought, let me try that little orange number. I actually was more interested in whether or not I might want to candy some orange peels someday than in the orange chocolate combo I was about to eat.
Well, let’s just say I really enjoyed that bite of sweet candied orange dipped in dark chocolate. So much so that my next move was to count how many more pieces of that particular treat were in the box. Could I have another? Would the kids even like it? Want it? (Ugh, this was one of the times that I lamented my kids’ more sophisticated palates.) How about my husband? He’s often more of a milk chocolate kind of guy, perhaps he’d choose to pass on his share of the treats? :)
Needless to say, I know I had at least one more piece of that delicious treat and from that day on, my love for orange and chocolate was cemented. And that is what inspired me to make this delicious Orange Chocolate Chip Shortbread.
For this new flavor combo, I decided to change the shape of the cookies. Instead of cutting wedges, which by the way, you can totally choose to do, I used a pretty little scalloped cookie cutter. I also cut the shortbread thicker than my Spiced Shortbread, which was still tender, but thinner and a bit crisper. With shortbread, go thicker and bake shorter for a softer, more tender texture. Or, go thinner and bake longer for a crispier shortbread. Both are great choices.
They baked up beautifully and I let them cool. I even photographed them without any other adornment. Then, I decided I wanted to punctuate the orange flavor even more, so I mixed up a small batch of icing with orange zest and orange juice and drizzled it over all of the cookies. Okay…a few more photos.
The icing definitely adds another punch of orange and I really liked them both ways. If you like a softer shortbread, the icing helps to keep the cookie soft while storing. Another thing I noticed, the orange flavor mellows and rounds out after a few days. That happens with some of my chocolate cakes, too. So, this was a cookie that I liked better on day three than on day one. That works perfectly not only for leftover cookies and baking things ahead of time, but for getting them onto cookie trays for others. Good on day one, and simply better on day three. I mean, who can really eat all the cookies on the tray in one day anyway? (That’s okay, no need to raise hands here ;)
I’ve got two shortbread recipes under my belt. A nice Spiced Shortbread that you cut into easy wedges, and now an Orange Chocolate Chip Shortbread that you cut into pretty little cookies and dress up with a tangy orange drizzle of icing. And now that I’ve been bitten by the shortbread bug…
Me thinks there will be more…
Orange Chocolate Chip Shortbread
For the cookies:
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- 1/2 cup confectioner's sugar
- 1/2 cup 1 stick salted butter, cold
- 1/4 cup mini chocolate chips
- zest from 1 orange
For the icing:
- 1/2 cup confectioner's sugar
- freshly squeezed orange juice
- splash of vanilla
- 1/4 tsp orange zest
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour and confectioner's sugar.
Cut the cold butter into small pieces, then add it to the flour mixture.
Using a pastry blender or two knives, cut the butter into the flour mixture until the flour looks crumbly. This will take a couple of minutes.
Once the butter is cut in and looks sandy, add chocolate chips and the orange zest, tossing to break up the pieces of zest and to distribute it throughout the mixture. Now, use your hand/s to squeeze the powdery mixture together. It will seem too dry to ever hold together, but just keep squeezing handfuls together and flipping the dough over to catch more dry pieces until the mixture comes together in a ball. The warmth of your hands will soften the butter and help it to bind to the flour mixture. It may take 50-60 squeezes. Just keep working it until there are no more dry bits in the bowl and it has come together.
Shape it into a ball, flatten it with your hands, place between two sheets of plastic wrap and roll dough until it's about 1/4" or 3/8" thick. Remove top layer of plastic wrap. Use a floured cookie cutter to cut out desired shape. Re-roll scraps and continue to cut out cookies until you've used up your dough.
Place cookies on an ungreased baking sheet and bake for 10-15 minutes or until cookies are just beginning to have a hint of gold around the edges.
Allow to cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes, then remove to a wire rack to finish cooling.
For the icing, mix the powdered sugar and vanilla with enough orange juice to get your desired drizzling consistency. Stir in orange zest. Drizzle over cooled cookies.
*The icing recipe makes just enough for a conservative drizzle on each cookie. If you like more icing, double the recipe. The orange flavor is assertive enough that a little bit of icing should do the trick.
*Baking times can range pretty widely depending upon your oven and how thick or thin you rolled your cookies. I checked my cookies at 8 minutes and then checked them every 2 minutes until they were set and just beginning to get a hint of golden brown on the edges. For softer shortbread, roll to 3/8" thick and bake just until the edges are showing color. For crispier shortbread, roll thinner than 1/4" and bake a few minutes longer.
*I used a 2" cookie cutter and got 16 cookies. You don't have to use cookie cutter. You could shape it and cut it the way I did in the Spiced Shortbread Post. It's faster and easier, if that's your goal :)
*Be careful when zesting that you don't get any of the bitter white pith or that bitterness will carry into your cookies.
*You can vary the amount of orange to your taste. Use more or less in the dough or eliminate the zest from the icing, or eliminate the zest and juice from the icing and make it plain using water or milk for the liquid.
*Store in an airtight container for up to a week, or freeze for up to two months.
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