You ask? I bake.

I have been meaning to make these cookies for quite a while.  My friend Jordan posted this on my facebook wall: “Try to make some shortbread orange flavored cookie with chocolate icing on top. MMM”  So that had been in the back of my mind for a while.  Then I wanted to do something fun for my cast mates for the closing of Rent at the Hangar Theatre here in Ithaca, so I thought I’d bake some contrasting cookies using Jordan’s idea for inspiration.

Little did I know how much of a pain these cookies would be.  I decided to make two sets: orange shortbread with dark chocolate and chocolate coconut shortbread with white chocolate.  I was going to adapt this recipe I found for coconut butter thins and then the disasters started.  First I didn’t leave myself enough time for the various steps.  Then, I didn’t have a plastic zip loc bag to roll out the dough, which was incredible sticky and gooey before refrigeration.  The chocolate dough was fine, since it was much stiffer due to the cocoa power I added. I had a whole big fiasco trying to get the dough in some sort of square shape and got extremely frustrated.

In the end it all worked out and I got the cookies baked.  The orange shortbread cookies spread out a lot and lost their square shape, which was too bad. The chocolate ones looked a lot nicer.  They both tasted pretty darn yummy. Then I got home from a performance at about 11pm and tried to dip them in the chocolate.  Besides some minor hand burns from grabbing hot bowls out of the microwave and plastering most of my kitchen in dark chocolate, those cookies went just fine.  For some reason though, none of the white chocolate in my house would melt. I think it was because no one could even remember how old the chips were… It just burned and got all clumpy.  Multiple times.  So I gave up and didn’t dip the chocolate cookies and went to bed and gave them to the cast the next day and all was well!

Orange Shortbread Cookies with Dark Chocolate
Adapted from Baking:  From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan via The Barefoot Kitchen Witch

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup sugar
Grated zest of 1 orange
2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2ish teaspoons orange extract (I didn’t measure exactly, just kept tasting the dough…)

Note: for chocolate shortbread cookies, I added 1/4 cocoa powder and 2/3 cup sweetened shredded coconut, substituted vanilla extract for the orange extract, and used no zest

Whisk together the flour, cornstarch, and salt.
If you want to get a little more flavor out of the orange zest, put the sugar and zest in the mixer bowl and, using your fingertips, work the zest into the sugar until the sugar is moist and the mixture fragrant.
Beat the butter, sugar and zest on medium speed for about 3 minutes, or until smooth.  Beat in the vanilla extract.  Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the flour mixture, mixing only until the dry ingredients disappear.  Note: add coconut and cocoa powder here for chocolate cookies
Transfer the soft, sticky dough to a gallon-size zipper-lock bag.  Put the bag on a flat surface, leaving the top open, and roll the dough into a 9-x-10 1/2-inch rectangle that’s 1/4 inch thick.  As you roll, turn the bag occasionally and lift the plastic from the dough so it doesn’t cause creases.  When you get the right size and thickness, seal the bag, pressing out as much air as possible, and refrigerate the dough for at least 2 hours or for up to 2 days.
GETTING READY TO BAKE:  Position the racks to divide the oven into thirds and preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.  Line two baking sheets with parchment or silicone mats.
Put the plastic bag on a cutting board and slit it open.  Turn the dough out onto the board (discard the bag), and, using a ruler as a guide and a sharp knife, cut it into 32 squares, each roughly 1 1/2 inches on a side.  Transfer the squares to the baking sheets, leaving about 2 inches between them, and carefully prick each one twice with a fork, gently pushing the tines through the cookies to the sheet.
Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, rotating the sheets from top to bottom and fromt to back at the midway point.  The shortbreads will be very pale–they shouldn’t take on much color.  Transfer the cookies to a rack and cool to room temperature.
Once cooled, feel free to dip in melted chocolate of your choice – I used dark chocolate for the orange flavored cookies.
Makes 32 Cookies

Thanks to the big brother for the great pictures!

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One Comment to “You ask? I bake.”

  1. These cookies look like a great xmas present for Tom — He LOVES chocolate and orange together.

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