One of life’s little luxuries I enjoy the most is afternoon tea. There’s almost nothing better and it’s possibly the best part of being able to work at home. I might eat lunch on the run or at my desk, but I always make a concerted effort to sit down in the afternoon, when the house is quiet, before the kids come home, and have a cup of tea. And of course, what is a cup of tea without a cookie. And really, what is a cookie if it’s not chocolate.
This Chocolate Orange Shortbread, from The Mixer Bible, Second Edition is one I often turn to when I’m looking for a culinary Calgon moment. It’s rich, buttery goodness is ever so slightly cut by a bright note of orange, and the dough comes together so easily. For this recipe, we are making it in a mixer, but it could just as easily be done in a food processor or even by hand.
Kitchen Counter Point- Although these cookies are great rolled out and cut into rounds, for a different twist, I also like to roll out the dough slightly and then press it into a small (I use a 7-1/2 inch), fluted tart pan with a removable bottom. It takes about 20 minutes to cook and I cut the cookies into wedges with a serrated knife when they are still slightly warm. You will need two tart pans for this recipe, or just keep one half of the dough chilled while the other is baking and then repeat the process. Make sure to thoroughly cool down your pan though before pressing the second batch of dough in. You don’t want to melt it before it gets in the oven.
Chocolate Orange Shortbreads
Makes 2 dozen cookies
1-1/4 cups all-purpose unbleached flour
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (preferably Dutch-process)
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 tbsp orange zest, finely grated
1 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
3 oz bittersweet (not unsweetened) or semisweet chocolate, chopped
Position racks in top third and bottom third of oven and. Sift first 4 ingredients into medium bowl. Set aside.
In the mixer bowl, using the paddle, beat butter in large bowl until fluffy. Stop to scrape bowl down. Add in the orange zest and reduce the speed to low. Beat in powdered sugar and vanilla. Add dry ingredients and beat until well blended. Gather the dough into a ball, cover in plastic wrap and chill for 30 minutes.
On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out to 1/4-inch. Cut into 2-inch circles and place 1-1/2-inches apart on prepared baking sheets. Bake shortbread for 5 minutes. Reverse sheets. Bake until shortbread looks dry and feels firm to touch, about 5 minutes longer. Cool on sheets for 1 minute. Remove to racks and cool completely.
Place the bittersweet chocolate in metal bowl set over saucepan of barely simmering water. Stir until chocolate is melted and smooth.
Fit a pastry bag with 1/8-inch plain tips; spoon chocolate into the bag. Or, spoon chocolate into a small plastic bag (cut off 1 tip from each bag). Pipe chocolate
decoratively over cookies. Let stand until chocolate sets, about 1 hour. (Can be made 2 days ahead. Store airtight in single layers between sheets of waxed paper.)