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For Chocolate Lovers only
 
 

Chocolate-Orange Sandwich Cookies

Tips: Two crisp, buttery cookies, gently flavored with orange, surround a chocolate filling. Yum! These aren’t particularly difficult to make, but they take time, and the cookies are shaped in an unusual way. Once they’re completed, you can store them airtight at cool room temperature for up to 5 days (place a sheet of wax paper between layers of the cookies in the storage container); the cookies also freeze well.

Nice on a cold afternoon with a cup of steaming tea, these would be equally appropriate for a bakesale or springtime picnic.

Yield: About 30 sandwich cookies

Ingredients:

    Cookies
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2-1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • Grated zest 1/2 large orange
  • 1 egg, graded “large”
  • 2-1/4 cups sifted unbleached all-purpose flour
  • Few grains of salt

    Filling
  • 9 ounces excellent-quality semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 2 tsp. solid vegetable shortening (such as Crisco)

Method:

To make the cookies, in large bowl, combine softened butter, sugar, vanilla, and orange zest. With large spoon, cream together well for a couple of minutes; mixture should be light and fluffy. Add egg and beat in thoroughly. Add flour and salt and mix in until well-combined. Chill dough for 30 to 60 minutes, or until it can be handled. While dough chills, line baking sheets with aluminum foil, shiny side up. Tear off a sheet of wax paper that’s about the length of your cookie sheet, and have ready a plain custard cup. Adjust rack to center position in oven; at least 15 minutes before baking, preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Form small scoops of the dough into 1 inch balls (I have a 1 inch diameter cookie scoop that works beautifully here, but it’s not a necessity). Place 12 balls on each lined cookie sheet, allowing space between each. When one sheet is full, place the sheet of wax paper over the top. Press straight down through the wax paper on each individual ball of cookie dough with the flat bottom of the custard cup so that you have a flattish round of dough a generous 2 inches in diameter (you don’t have to be exact here). When you’ve flattened all of the balls of dough on one cookie sheet, slowly and gently try to peel off the wax paper. If it sticks, chill the whole set-up for 5 to 10 minutes, until the wax paper can be peeled from the cookie dough rounds easily. You can re-use the wax paper on the next baking sheet, but if it becomes very crinkled it’s a good idea to replace it with a fresh sheet (I have to replace my wax paper after flattening every second sheet of the cookie dough balls). You’ll want to chill the remaining dough while you’re working to flatten or bake every couple of baking sheets. If the edges of the dough crack a lot when you flatten the balls, the dough is too cold; allow it to stand at room temperature for 5 to 10 minutes, then try to flatten again.

Once you have a sheet with 12 flattened rounds of dough (make sure the wax paper has been peeled off!), bake in preheated oven 10 to 11 minutes, turning back-to-front once about halfway through baking time. Cookies won’t spread much, but the edges will take on some color. You’re looking for a medium golden-brown color around the cookie edges; when you see that, they’re done. Remove from oven; allow cookies to stand for only 30 seconds or so before removing to cooling racks with a broad-bladed metal spatula. Cool cookies completely before sandwiching. If you haven’t enough racks for all of the baked cookies or want to store them briefly before sandwiching them, wait until the baked cookies have cooled completely before storing in an airtight container with wax paper between cookie layers. You’ll have 60 to 65 cookies.

For filling: In medium heatproof bowl, combine finely chopped chocolate and vegetable shortening. Place over simmering water on low heat (water should not touch bottom of bowl). Sir often until almost melted. Remove from heat and hot water. Dry bottom and sides of bowl and stir until chocolate is completely melted and smooth. (Alternatively, combine chocolate and shortening in medium microwaveable bowl. Microwave at 50% (medium) power for one minute; stir well. Continue to microwave at 50% (medium) power for short intervals, stirring thoroughly after each, just until melted and smooth.) While chocolate melts, lay cookies out in pairs, upside down (for each pair, try to select cookies that are very close in size); have ready two baking sheets (at room temperature), each lined with aluminum foil.

Scrape chocolate mixture into a small bowl for easier handling. Use a rounded teaspoon (not a measuring teaspoon) of the melted chocolate mixture for each pair. Drop the melted chocolate onto the flat bottom of one cookie, trying to keep it as round as you can, and keeping it slightly away from the edges of the cookie. Top with a second cookie so that both flat sides face inward. Press down gently on top of the second cookie until the chocolate filling is almost to the cookie edges. Place each completed sandwich on a foil-lined baking sheet (they can be placed quite close together). Repeat process for each pair of cookies, using all of themelted chocolate filling. When one baking sheet fills up, chill briefly, just until chocolate filling of cookies is set. If chocolate filling cools and thickens too much, reheat at 50% (medium) power in microwave for very brief interval to warm slightly.

When filling has set in all cookie sandwiches, store the sandwich cookies in an airtight container at room temperature, placing wax paper between the layers. Store at cool room temperature for up to 5 days or freeze for longer storage.

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