This classic flavor combo is great for Christmas—or anytime
Back when having fresh fruit during winter was a luxury, good children often found an orange in their Christmas stockings. And if they were very good, a bar of chocolate.
So if you’re looking for a cookie that evokes holiday traditions, what could be more appropriate than one that highlights these two retro-favorite flavors? Like this Double Orange Dark Chocolate Cookie.
Fortunately, these days oranges and chocolate are both abundant all the time. Which is a good thing, because the flavor of this cookie is so rich and intense, you’ll want to make it year round.
It’s a great treat when you’ve been good. And maybe even better when you’ve been bad.
Recipe: Double Orange Dark Chocolate Cookies
We call these cookies “double” orange because, in addition to mixing grated orange peel into the batter, you also brush the cookies with an orange sugar glaze.
Mrs. Kitchen Riffs (the baker in our household) adapted this recipe from one she found on the Wilton website.
Prep time for these cookies is 15 to 20 minutes. Baking time is 9-10 minutes (though you may need to bake multiple rounds of cookies, so allow for that).
This recipe yields about 3 to 4 dozen cookies (depending on how large you make them). Leftovers keep well for a week or so if stored in an airtight container.
For the cookies:
- 1¼ cups all-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon double-acting baking powder
- 1/8 teaspoon Kosher salt
- 2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
- ¾ cup unsalted butter
- 2/3 cup granulated white sugar
- 2/3 cup dark brown sugar (see Notes)
- 1 egg (consider using pasteurized; see Notes)
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 4 teaspoons freshly grated orange peel
- 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed orange juice
- 3 tablespoons granulated white sugar
- Preheat oven to 375° F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper (see Notes).
- In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, salt, and cocoa). Set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer (or in a large mixing bowl, using a hand mixer), cream the butter and sugars together until fluffy. Beat in the egg and vanilla extract. Add the grated orange peel and beat until well blended. Add the dry ingredients and mix well.
- Use a tablespoon to scoop out dollops of cookie dough. Roll the scoops of dough into round balls and place them on the baking sheets, leaving an inch between cookies. Flatten the cookies slightly with the back of a spoon. Bake 9 to 10 minutes, or until the tops of the cookies are just beginning to set. Do not overbake.
- While the cookies are baking, make the glaze: Squeeze the orange juice into a small bowl and add the sugar. Stir well to mix.
- When the cookies are done, remove them from the oven. Using a wide spatula, slide the cookies from the baking sheets onto a wire rack.
- While the cookies are still warm, brush them with the orange glaze. Allow the cookies to dry completely before serving or storing.
- We prefer unbleached flour, and are partial to the King Arthur brand. But any decent all-purpose white flour should work fine in this recipe.
- Almost every baking powder you’ll find on your grocery shelf is “double-acting.” It’s called double-acting because you get a first reaction (the bubbles that help cause cookie dough to rise) when you mix the powder with wet ingredients, then a second reaction when the cookies hit the heat of the oven.
- Baking powder does become weaker over time (and most baking powder tins have an expiration date). So replace your baking powder when necessary. We usually replace ours once a year, when daylight saving time ends (so we remember to do it).
- It’s a good idea to shake baking powder before using it to make sure all its components are well mixed. Baking powder consists of baking soda, plus an acidic ingredient (which reacts with the baking soda to produce leavening) and a neutral substance (usually corn starch) to provide bulk.
- If you don't have Kosher salt on hand, you can use plain table salt. Usually I reduce the amount of regular salt by about half since table salt is finer and more “condensed” than Kosher. So you could use a couple of pinches; or just go ahead and use 1/8 teaspoon—the difference isn’t critical in this recipe.
- You can substitute light brown sugar in this recipe, but I think dark brown yields the best flavor.
- Eggs carry a slight (but real) risk of salmonella. So I suggest using pasteurized eggs for cookies. Although it’s unlikely that the eggs you buy will be infected, why take the risk? Especially since most of us can’t make cookies without tasting the raw dough.
- You can usually identify pasteurized eggs because they have a red “P” stamped on them.
- You should use high quality (pure) vanilla extract in this recipe. Its flavor is so much better than the imitation kind.
- Pure vanilla extract is made by soaking vanilla beans in a mixture of water and alcohol for several months. BTW, the FDA requires that pure vanilla extract contain at least 35% alcohol. If the label doesn’t say “pure,” that means it’s made from synthetic vanilla. The artificial kind is usually derived from the sapwood of several species of conifers—or from coal extracts! How appetizing (not).
- The flavor of some imitation vanillas can be nasty. You don’t have to spend a fortune on pure vanilla extract, but getting decent quality does mean spending a bit more for something that’s not loaded with sugar or imitation flavoring. Do yourself a favor and get the real stuff.
- The easiest way to grate orange peel is with a Microplane grater.
- The original recipe says you can substitute finely chopped candied orange peel for freshly grated. I haven’t tried that variation, but you might find it tasty.
- The original recipe didn’t include orange glaze. The cookies are good without it, but the glaze does add nice flavor. It also makes for a more attractive and festive-looking cookie.
- We’ve used all sorts of baking sheets for making cookies over the years, including expensive insulated sheets. Nowadays, we just use 11 x 17-inch half-sheet (jelly roll) pans with 1-inch sides. (They’re called half-sheet pans because they’re half the size of the full sheets that large commercial ovens can accommodate). Half-sheet pans provide ample surface space and the sides keep the cookies from slipping off. We can’t say we’ve noticed much difference in quality. Although some of the fancier sheets theoretically make for better results, none of them are likely to perform as advertised in the typical home oven, where baking conditions are sub-optimum at best. (The temperature of our home oven tends to be off by 25 degrees or more, for instance.) So we just go with what’s easiest to use—and quickest to clean up.
- These cookies bake quickly, so watch closely. It’s easy to burn or overbake them.
Naughty and Nice
“These are great,” I said, chomping on a Double Orange Dark Chocolate Cookie.
“They did turn out OK,” said Mrs Kitchen Riffs, taking a cookie from the plate.
“Your cookies always turn out great,” I said, reaching for another one myself.
“Are you trying to butter me up?” asked Mrs K R.
“Well, maybe,” I admitted, casually taking another cookie. “But it’s true nonetheless.”
“Naughty, naughty,” she said with a smile, picking up a cookie.
“Aww, come on!” I said, grabbing the next-to-last cookie. “You know I’m nice.”
“Well, usually,” she admitted. “But me? Today I’m feeling naughty.”
And she reached for the last cookie.
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