Saturday, August 16, 2008

Pretend It's Christmas

Go with me here for a moment. It's the middle of August, and it's brutally hot and humid. This is one of the few times of year when I long for cold days when it's too rotten outside to do anything but bake. And bake I do. Of course, then I have to give much of it to neighbors and co-workers and teachers because I don't want to eat it all, but I love to bake and nibble.

This becomes relevant for a few reasons. First, I've been reading a number of blogs that post recipes, and I've enjoyed reading them. I love seeing the pictures of how they come together, hearing the stories of how the recipes were invented or what the meaning behind cooking them is. And I've really enjoyed cooking some of them - thanks again, Angela for the salmon quesadilla idea! I've debated doing something similar myself periodically.

Then I got a nice kick in the rear. The SITS girls I've told you all so much about are having a recipe contest on their Saucy Eats website. I've talked to a friend of mine who also likes to cook about how I want to enter one of those national bakeoff/cookoff competitions to see what would happen, but of course I never get to it. Here's my chance to do this on a much smaller scale. And yes, you'll periodically see more recipes from me -- the white chocolate stuff for Little Miss's birthday party and the dip that was once confused with liverwurst and desperately needs a name among them.

These cookies are some of my favorites to make at Christmastime. I wish I had a better name for them, but I went with the very straight "Orange Chocolate Shortbread Cookies." If you want to help me out, I'd love some naming suggestions. And I'm in marketing - pshaw!

Anyway, the cookie came about as I was trying to create a cookie for the cookie sale that the animal shelter I volunteer for has every winter. I wanted something unique that would draw people to it without being too weird and over the top.

As I thought about it, I realized that orange is always one of my favorite holiday flavors, and chocolate just seems to go naturally with it. (Of course, my husband thinks chocolate goes naturally with everything – and who am I to contradict him?) One of my favorite treats is the chocolate oranges that Kraft makes. I’ve always looked for a recipe that incorporates those flavors, but I never managed to find a recipe for a cookie with orange flavoring, so I decided this challenge would fit the bill.

I based it very loosely off a shortbread recipe, since that was the cookie that seemed to hold its shape the best. Most shortbreads are far too dry for my tastes and crumble too readily to work well for this type of cookie. I didn’t want a moist cookie that wouldn’t stand up to the filling or would overwhelm the citrus flavor with sweetness either. Of all the variations I’ve tried, this seems to have won the most fans. That and they're surprisingly easy to make (and very forgiving, too)!

Oh yeah, and if you want to enter, too, and possibly win a $100 gift certificate to Williams-Sonoma and a digital camera, go here. But make sure you post an entry that won't beat out my cookies! And hurry -- the 10 (5? there's some discrepancy) finalists will be posted on August 23.

Orange Chocolate Shortbread Cookies

10 T butter, unsalted @ room temperature
3/4 c. brown sugar
zest of one orange
juice of one orange
1 egg
3/4 t. baking soda
1/4 t. salt
3 c. flour

1/2 c. cream
8 oz. bittersweet chocolate
2 T Grand Marnier
1/2 c. powdered sugar

Make the filling first and let come to room temperature before starting the cookies.

1. Scald cream in a heavy saucepan.
2. Remove from heat and add chocolate, stirring until fully melted.
3. Add Grand Marnier and stir.
4. Slowly add powdered sugar and stir until combined.

Set aside until cookies are cooled.

0. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
1. Cream the room temperature butter and brown sugar.
2. Add the orange zest and orange juice, then the egg. Mix until well combined.
3. Add the baking soda and salt, then mix again.
4. Slowly add the flour and stir until fully combined. The dough should be fairly stiff.
5. Roll small amounts of the dough into balls and place onto greased cookie sheet.

Using a clean finger or back of an ice tea spoon, make a large, deep divot into each ball (the bigger the divot, the more filling fits!).

Bake each set of cookies 11-13 minutes until firm. These cookies do not crack when done. As soon as each batch comes out of the oven, carefully use the spoon to reaffirm the divot.

Let cookies cool ~10 minutes. Once cookies are cool to the touch, use the ice tea spoon to carefully fill each divot with thickened chocolate filling. Let cookies sit 2+ hours for filling to set.

Makes approximately 4 dozen cookies.


Angela August 16, 2008 at 4:43 PM  

Okay, I have to dash to get ready for dinner with friends, so I will comment more later. But can I just say I have GOT to make these? You've put two of my favorite things - chocolate and shortbread - together with another of my favorite things - citrus. Hmmmmm... Angie and I may have to make these when she comes down to visit soon!

trashalou August 16, 2008 at 6:32 PM  

Yummo! Will have to try that recipe out b/c we do like cookies (biscuits here) at my house.

Thanks for stopping by at Trash Towers the other day.

Mabunny August 17, 2008 at 12:20 PM  

Oh wow Michelle, those look YUMMY!

Swishy August 17, 2008 at 5:18 PM  

Ooooh, those look YUM!

Jules August 19, 2008 at 4:12 AM  

Oh Yum! And I had to come upon these when I'm hungry. 'Scuse me while I do a refrigerator run......

Michelle August 20, 2008 at 10:22 PM  

Angela - Can't wait to hear your verdict once you make them. Still waiting on the rest of your insight... promises, promises! ;)

Trashalout - Welcome! And you're welcome! If you do try them out, definitely let me know what you think.

Mabunny - They are... and super easy to make!

Swishy - They are... do you like all the chocolate dripping off the sides. Not that I let THAT go to waste, of course!

Jules - Mission accomplished! Hope the snack satisfied.

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