Chocolate dipped orange shortbread cookies are an easy slice and bake cookie that pairs bright citrus with rich dark chocolate.
What’s better than an orange in the toe of your stocking? A chocolate orange, of course! These cookies take that classic holiday combo and run with it!
Easy slice and bake shortbread cookies are a specialty of the house here in the Great Island kitchen. I come back to them again and again not only because it’s the easiest cookie dough I’ve ever made, but because the flavor and texture of shortbread can’t be beat. The simple combination of sugar, butter, and flour cooks up into a soft, crumbly cookie that literally melts in your mouth. The basic dough can take on many different flavor profiles, and in this case, it’s a sweet juicy orange accented with some rich chocolate. How can that not be delicious??
what you’ll need for chocolate dipped orange shortbread
- orange zest ~ I use the zest of one orange
- granulated sugar
- butter, unsalted
- all purpose flour
- orange extract (optional) I used Nielsen-Massey brand.
- dark chocolate for dipping
my special orange sugar infuses real citrus flavor
Of course I used my favorite citrus sugar technique for these cookies, why wouldn’t I? And, of course, the orange flavor just pops!
what is orange sugar?
It’s plain granulated sugar that has been processed with the zest of an orange. But combining the two in my food processor I’m able to extract the most flavor from that zest and infuse it into my sugar.
how to make orange sugar
- Put granulated sugar in a food processor. For this recipe it’s 1 cup.
- Use a sharp serrated peeler to peel the orange zest from one orange in thin strips. You don’t want any of the bitter white part, just the orange part, see the illustration above. You’ll smell an intense orange aroma the minute you start zesting as the orange oil bursts into the air. Note: you’re not peeling the orange, you’re just removing the thin outer layer, or the zest.
- Process until the orange and the sugar are completely combined, this will take under a minute. Pulse the machine, if necessary, to make sure you get all the zest evenly ground.
- The sugar will be pale orange, moist, and incredibly fragrant. It’s ready to use.
- Orange sugar doesn’t keep well, so plan to make it as needed for recipes.
a dip in chocolate elevates a plain cookie
It’s one of my favorite techniques for turning a delicious cookie into a holiday cookie!
You can dip any plain cookie, whether homemade, or not. Use your favorite store bought cookie for a super simple semi-homemade treat.
chocolate dipping tips
- Bar chocolate melts easier and has a better consistency for dipping than do chocolate chips.
- Be sure to chop your chocolate finely before melting to help the process along and prevent over heating of the chocolate, which can cause it to seize up.
- Transfer your melted chocolate into a small deep bowl for dipping. The extra depth will help when you dunk your cookies into the chocolate.
- Set your dipped cookies down on a piece of parchment paper to set up. When they’re completely hardened you can remove easily to eat or store.
- As an alternative to dipping, you can drizzle the chocolate over your cookies.
why is there no orange juice in this cookie?
Cookies, especially shortbread cookies, are low moisture foods, that’s what gives them their crisp chewy texture. If we add too much liquid to cookies they take on a puffy, ‘cakey’ texture. The real flavor of the orange resides in the zest, anyway. That’s where the potent essential oils are stored, and this cookie takes full advantage of that.
more shortbread to try
- Cranberry Orange Shortbread Cookies
- Butter Pecan Shortbread
- Chocolate Chunk Shortbread Cookies
- Savory Herb Shortbread (and Party Printables!)
- Fruitcake Shortbread Cookies
- Sparkly Strawberry Shortbread Cookies
- Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Shortbread Cookies
- Double Dark Chocolate Chip Shortbread Cookies
Chocolate Dipped Orange Shortbread Cookies
for the orange sugar
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- zest of 1 orange, peeled with a vegetable peeler into strips ~ just the orange part, not the bitter white pith.
for the cookies
- 8 ounces dark or semi sweet bar chocolate, cut in small pieces
to make the orange sugar
- Add the sugar and the zest to the bowl of a food processor and pulse/process until combined.
- The zest should be finely ground and the sugar will be moist and pale orange.
to make the cookies
- To the orange sugar in the processor, add the flour, butter, salt, and extract. Pulse to combine, then run the machine until the dough comes together into a ragged clump. This should take under a minute.
- Turn the dough out and bring together with your hands so there are no crumbly parts left. Divide in half and form 2 logs of dough, about 12 inches long each. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate until firm, about 2 hours.
- Preheat oven to 350F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Slice the logs of dough into 1/2 inch slices and place, 2 inches apart, on the cookie sheets.
- Bake the cookies for 10-12 minutes, until just turning golden on the very edges, but still pale on top. Longer cooking will result in a crisper cookie, while shorter cooking time will yield a softer cookie.
- Let the cookies cool completely on a rack before dipping.
- Melt the chocolate in a double boiler or in the microwave, starting with one minute, then in 15 second bursts, stirring well in between.
- Dip each cookie half-way into the chocolate, and then set on parchment paper to harden up. Sprinkle with more orange zest, if desired.
- Halve the recipe for a smaller yield.
- For a delicious variation, substitute lemon zest for orange zest.
- Add chopped dark chocolate to the orange shortbread dough.