Thursday 15 December 2011

Chocolate Orange Sandwich Cookies

The inventor of the Oreo cookie would probably tell you that chocolate cookies can taste dry even when baked with the same amounts of fat, liquid, and sugar as not-chocolate cookies.  If you don’t believe me, try making a batch of shortbread, dividing the dough in half, adding chocolate to one half and leaving the other half plain.  Take a bite of each cookie, one after the other, and compare the white shortbread to the chocolate one.  The chocolate shortbread will seem much more dry than the white shortbread.  It’s why Oreos are perfect:  The filling in the middle provides moisture to offset the dryness of the cookies.

My chocolate orange sandwich cookies are much the same.  They began as a plain chocolate refrigerator cookie recipe, but I found the flavour one dimensional.  I bolstered  the cookies’ flavour by adding some orange zest to the dough and the flavour did improve, but the cookies seemed too dry.  I made the cookies into a sandwich, with orange butter cream icing in the middle and “Voilà!”  I created something really wonderful.

I don’t make these cookies often.  They take an investment of time and effort.  I don’t always have the patience to wait for the dough to set up in the fridge, or to take the time required to ice the center of each cookie sandwich.  When I do find the time and patience to make them, the contrasting flavours of chocolate and orange paired with the contrasting textures of the cookie and the smooth icing make a wonderful treat.  I enjoy every bite.

To make the cookies for Chocolate Orange Sandwich cookies, you’ll need:

  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, melted
  • The grated zest of one large navel orange
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3-1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 Tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Beat the butter, sugar, and egg together until the mixture is light and fluffy. 

Stir in the chocolate and the orange zest.

Combine the milk and vanilla.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. 

Add one quarter of the flour mixture to the butter mixture and stir it in.  Then add one third of the milk mixture and stir it in.  Continue alternating the flour mixture and the milk mixture, ending with the flour, until it’s all mixed into the batter.  It should form a fairly stiff dough.

Shape the dough into two rolls, each about two inches in diameter. 

Wrap the rolls in waxed paper and chill them in the fridge for at least two hours or, if you don’t plan to use the cookie dough right away, wrap the rolls in foil and put them in the freezer.  

At baking time, heat the oven to 350˚F.  Line some cookie sheets with parchment.  Cut the rolls into thin slices—between 1/8 inch and 1/4 inch thick—and place the slices onto the prepared cookie sheets, about an inch apart. 

Bake the cookies until they feel set when lightly touched, about 12 minutes.  Remove them from the pan immediately and cool them on a sheet of brown paper.

While the cookies are cooling, make the orange icing to fill them.  To make the icing you’ll need:

  • 1/2 cup of butter, softened
  • Some icing sugar (powdered sugar)
  • The grated zest of one orange
  • The juice of two oranges (the one you zested for the cookie dough and the one you zested for the icing)

Begin by sifting about a cup of icing sugar over the butter.  Add the orange zest and about half of the orange juice.  Beat it all together until it’s very smooth.  Continue adding sugar until the icing is the sweetness and consistency you prefer.  If you need to thin the icing, add some more of the orange juice.  I ended up using about 3/4 of the juice I’d squeezed. 

To make the cookie sandwiches, turn one cookie upside down and spread a layer of icing across the bottom.  Top the icing with a second cookie, with the bottom of the second cookie facing the icing .  Continue working your way through the batch.

The icing will probably be a little soft at first but if you leave the cookies out for a couple of hours, the icing will dry a bit and set up.  At that point, store the cookies in an airtight container. 

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