Citrus and chocolate are such a delicious combination that I decided to make these Chocolate Orange Shortbread Cookies for citrus season. Chopped chocolate is combined with an orange shortbread dough and then rolled in demerara sugar for a crunchy edge. They're buttery and chocolatey with a burst of delicious orange flavor. They're easy to make and perfect for when you want something a little sweet.
The base recipe for this cookie is my Classic Shortbread Cookie, but the inspiration for this cookie was my holiday cookie box that I make every year for family and friends. If you love the combination of orange and chocolate you'll love it in the form of this cookie or perhaps this Orange and Chocolate Almond Tart.
Why This Recipe Tastes Good
This recipe is a variation of my Shortbread Cookie recipe. Orange zest is rubbed into the sugar to release the oils in the orange zest and give the cookie a strong orange flavor. After the flour is mixed into the dough the finely chopped chocolate is added. Finely chopping the chopping makes it easier to slice the cookie. Finally, the cookie dough log is rolled in demerara sugar which gives the cookie a nice crunchy edge. This combination of ingredients makes a really delicious cookie.
Chocolate Orange Cookie Ingredients
Here's what you'll need for this recipe:
- Unbleached All-Purpose Flour. The flour provides the structure for the cookie.
- Unsalted Butter. Butter adds flavor and produces a nice tender cookie. You can use salted butter, but don't add the additional salt that the recipe calls for. It's also important to use a good quality butter, such as Tillamook butter.
- Granulated Sugar. Granulated sugar produces nice crisp edges and helps with the light browning on the bottom edge of the cookie
- Orange Zest. The orange zest is a major flavor component. Use fresh oranges and zest the orange directly into the sugar to get the most flavor out of the orange.
- Kosher Salt. The kosher salt bumps up the flavor of all the other ingredients.
- Egg White. The egg white is used to help the demerara sugar adhere to the to the cookie dough.
- Demerara Sugar. The demerara is made up of large sugar crystals and produces a crunchy exterior for the cookie.
The great thing about this shortbread cookie recipe is that it is based on a 3-2-1 ratio, which makes it easy to remember. It's 3 parts flour, 2 parts butter, and 1 part sugar. See the recipe card for the exact ingredient amounts.
How to Make Chocolate Orange Shortbread Cookies
Start by chopping the chocolate really fine. The pieces should be 1/8-1/4-inch in size. The small size of he chocolate chunks will make it easier to slice the cookie.
Place the granulated sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer and zest the orange directly onto the sugar until it looks like you have about 2 teaspoons. You may need two oranges depending on their size.
Rub the orange zest into the sugar with your fingers. This step further releases the citrus oils into the sugar and will help create a really fragrant orange cookie.
Add all the butter and with the paddle attachment mix on medium speed until the batter is creamy, about 2 minutes.
Add the flour and mix on medium-low speed until the mixture starts to come together and forms large clumps. Add the chopped chocolate and mix on low speed until the chocolate is distributed throughout the dough.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and lightly knead the dough until it comes together. Divide the dough into two equal portions and roll them into 1-1/2 inch logs that are about 7-inches long each.
Wrap each one in wax paper that is at least 6-inches long than the log. Roll the dough log back and forth a few times to even it out and make it rough.
Chill the cookie dough logs for at least one (1) hour.
How to Prep and Bake the Cookies
Remove one cookie dough log from the refrigerator and let it sit a room temperature for 5-10 minutes.
Place the cookie dough on top of the sugar. Brush the top of the log with the egg white and rotate it so the sugar adheres to the cookie dough. Continue to brush the dough with egg white and roll it in the sugar until the entire length of the log is covered.
Check for empty spots and sprinkle sugar onto the blank spots. When the dough is completely covered slice the dough into 1/2-inch rounds. Place the cookies on a parchment-lined baking sheet 1-1/2 inches apart.
Bake the cookies for 16-18 minutes. The cookies are done when the bottoms turn slightly brown, so check the bottom of one of the cookies after 16 minutes.
Let the cookies cool for 5 minutes on the baking sheet and then move them to a cooling rack.
Pro Tips for Making These Cookies
- Use oranges that look fresh for the orange zest. Do not use oranges that look dry or shriveled, you will not be able to get much zest or orange oil.
- Use a scale to weigh your flour. Too much flour will produce a dry crumbly dough that will be hard to shape into a log. Too little flour will produce a cookie dough that is soft and won't hold its shape when baked.
- Use room-temperature unsalted butter so that it easily mixes with the other ingredients
- Since butter is the prominent flavor use good quality butter. I recommend Tillamook or Kerrygold butter.
- Use a sharp knife to slice the cookie dough. Do not use a serrated knife.
- When baking multiple batches, don't place unbaked cookies on a warm baking sheet.
Shortbread Cookie Variations
The combination of citrus and chocolate is really delicious. Here are a couple of variations:
- Grapefruit zest and dark chocolate
- Lemon and white chocolate
- Orange zest, cinnamon, and milk chocolate
Recipe - Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, freeze the cookie dough after it's rolled into a log. Freeze the cookie dough for up to 2 months.
The baked cookies can be stored in an air-tight container at room temperature for up to two (2) weeks.
I haven't tested this recipe with gluten-free flour so I don't know how they will turn out.
These cookies are amazing. If you haven't tried the combination of orange and chocolate before you'll love it in this cookie. If you make these cookies please leave a comment and rating to let me know what you think.
Orange Chocolate Shortbread Cookies
- 4 ounces (114 grams) granulated sugar
- 8 ounces (227 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 2 teaspoons orange zest requires 1 large orange
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 12 ounces (340 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour plus 1 tablespoon for dusting the work surface
- 4 ounces (114 grams) bittersweet or semisweet chocolate
- 1 (30 grams) egg white
- 3/4 cup demerara sugar
- Chop the chocolate into small pieces, about 1/8-1/4 inch in size. The small size is required so that you can more easily slice the cookie dough. When you have chopped the chocolate, sift the chocolate with a medium-coarse strainer to remove the tiny pieces. You should be left with small chunks and about 3-1/2 ounces of chocolate.
- The finer pieces are sifted out, because if they are added to the cookie dough, they will turn the dough dark.
- Place the sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer. Zest the orange on top of the sugar until you have about 2 teaspoons. Use your fingers to rub the zest into the sugar. Add the kosher salt and the butter. With the paddle attachment beat the sugar, salt and butter on medium speed until it is well combined and looks creamy, 2 minutes.
- Add the flour and mix on medium-low speed just until the dough starts to come together and forms large clumps. Add the chopped chocolate and mix on low until the chocolate is dispersed throughout the dough. The dough will still be large clumps.
- Turn out the dough onto a clean, lightly floured surface. Gently gather the dough together into a disk by gently pressing the dough together and shaping it into a round disk. The dough should weigh about 940 grams. Once you have a round disk shape, use a knife or a bench knife to cut directly in half and set aside.
- Clean your work surface with a bench scraper. Shape each dough half into a 7-inch long, 1-1/2 diameter log, by forming it into a short cylinder and then rolling it back and form with open hands. Move your hands from the center to the outside edges and back again to maintain even thickness.
- Wrap the parchment paper around your dough log, lengthwise. Then twist each end of the paper into pigtails in opposite directions (one towards you and one away from you) to form a locking mechanism. With each twist, the dough will compress and becomes smoothed out (think of it like a sausage in a casing). Roll from the center outward until you feel that you have a smooth, cylindrical log.
- Chill the dough for at least 1 hours and up to 2 days.
Baking the Cookies
- Preheat the oven to 325F degrees. Remove one of the logs of cookie dough from the refrigerator and let it sit at room temperature for 10 minutes. Pour 1/2 cup of demerara sugar on a piece of parchment paper at least 10-inches long. Brush the dough with egg white and then roll it in the sugar on the parchment paper. You may need to sprinkle the sugar directly onto the log or press some of the sugar into spots to get it to stick to the dough
- Slice the log with a sharp knife into 1/2-inch rounds and place them on a cookie sheet about 2-inches apart. Bake the cookies for about 15-17 minutes. The bottom of the cookie will be light golden brown. If the cookies are brown on top reduce the baking time by 1-2 minutes.
- Remove the cookies from the oven and let them cool on the cookie sheet for 5 minutes then use a spatula to move them to a cooling rack.
- Repeat these steps with the second log, adding more sugar to the parchment paper if required.
- Store the cookies in airtight container for up to 2 weeks. The cookies taste even better on the second day.