December 03, 2019
While we were testing this recipe and simultaneously testing for our Dark Chocolate Orange Crepe Cake kit for Christmas, I couldn’t help but wonder why oranges are associated with Christmas and the holiday season.
Did you know? During the Great Depression, people didn’t have the means to get Christmas gifts, so families would usually save up to get an orange, which was seen as a luxurious treat then. Oranges are sectioned nicely and therefore meant to be shared, meaning that everyone would get a piece to celebrate the occasion together as a family!
Another tale explaining why oranges are used to celebrate Christmas is one of St Nicholas. He encountered a man who had difficulties finding husbands for his three daughters because he didn’t have enough for their dowries. St Nicholas then dropped 3 bags of gold down the man's chimney one night and some of it fell into the stockings hanging over the fireplace to dry. Since then, people have placed oranges in their stockings as a way to symbolise the gold left by St Nicholas, to represent kindness and the act of giving!
This year, fill your Christmas stockings with these orange dark chocolate cookies for a tasty and indulgent treat. A guaranteed crowd pleaser with added bonus points for being well, pretty dang easy to make.
Our recipe calls for the use of orange emulco, which can look a little intimidating, but all it really does is add flavouring and colour in one simple step. You can choose to replace orange emulco with orange essence if you’re not a fan of colouring, however, do keep in mind that orange essence may not provide as strong of an aroma and taste. Adding the zest of an orange like how we did for these Orange Dark Chocolate Loaf Cakes and Nutella Orange Brownies would also take your cookies to a whole other level by incorporating a sweet fragrance and tangy kick!
The addition of dark chocolate lends a bittersweet element, striking just the right balance for a cookie if you don’t like yours overly sweet. We used dark chocolate chunks because we had some on hand, but you can use any kind of chocolate you want, including chopping up your favourite chocolate bar, or regular chocolate chips!
The texture of these cookies lean more towards the cakier side, with a thin and crisp crust on the outside. This happens due to the creaming of butter and sugar, which adds air into your cookie dough.
If you prefer chewier cookies, melt the butter fully in a microwave and then add your sugar in and mix well. The reason this method helps to make chewier cookies is because butter is essentially an emulsion of water and fat. When butter is fully melted, the temperature rises and the water and fat molecules separate, making it easier for the water to bind with the flour to form gluten, thus resulting in a chewy, crispy cookie!
We used a combination of brown sugar and white sugar in our recipe, and there’s good reason for this! Our recipe calls for baking soda, which requires an acid to be activated in order to help our cookies rise. The acid in this recipe is found in the brown sugar, which contains molasses that also double up as a flavouring agent with its sticky toffee flavour. Using granulated sugar alone won’t be enough, as the role of granulated sugar in cookies is to make them crisp and spread more. A combination of both sugars balances out the rise and spread in our cookies.
The same reason why all of our cookie recipes call for refrigeration of the cookie dough, this recipe requires your dough to be chilled after mixing so as to allow the cookie dough to rest and the butter to firm up again. This helps to (1) Prevent over-spreading of the cookies in the oven, (2) Promote even browning in the oven, and (3) Allow the ingredients in the cookie dough to mingle and develop, resulting in more pronounced flavours. I cannot emphasise how much good chilling your dough (esp in a warm climate like Singapore) can do for your cookies. Definitely not a step you’d want to skip over!
Finally, when your cookies are out of the oven (and when they’re still slightly warm!), take a few chocolate chunks/pieces of chocolate and push them into the tops of the cookies gently. Sometimes our chocolate gets lost in the batter and covered, so this is really just for the aesthetics… and maybe to sneak more chocolate into the cookies. After all, it’s the holidays, who’s keeping track anyway?
No orange emulco? Substitute with orange essence, flavouring, or fresh orange zest!
200g all purpose flour
4g baking soda
160g unsalted butter
85g granulated sugar
85g brown sugar
2x medium eggs
4g orange emulco
250g dark chocolate chunks/ chocolate chips (set aside 50g for topping cookies)
Bring eggs and butter to room temperature.
In a medium bowl, sift all purpose flour, baking soda and salt together.
In another large mixing bowl, cream butter together with granulated and brown sugar until light and fluffy.
To the creamed butter, add in the eggs one by one, stirring to incorporate after each addition. Add in vanilla and orange emulco and mix until incorporated.
Gradually add in the sifted dry ingredients and mix until just incorporated. Do not over-beat.
Add in dark chocolate chunks and fold in until well distributed.
Chill dough for 30 minutes to 1 hour or overnight. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 180°C and line your baking sheet with parchment paper.
Scoop out about 38-40g portions of cookie dough (for medium cookies) onto your baking sheet, leaving space in between them for the cookies to spread. Bake immediately.
Bake the cookies one sheet at a time, for about 12 - 15 min until cookies look set, golden brown and darker at the edges. Extra tip to test for doneness: Pull out your oven rack and lightly push the sides of the cookie very lightly with a spatula or your finger. If the edges stay firm and do not leave a huge indentation, then you're done.
While each batch of cookies are baking, leave any remaining cookie dough in the fridge. Once the cookies are out of the oven, quickly push some of the dark chocolate chunks that you have set aside into the tops of the soft cookies to decorate them.
Let cookies cool. They will set and firm up as they cool.
These cookies whip up in a jiffy and are perfect for your year-end gifting. To make ahead, you may simply freeze the cookie dough or the baked cookies, and bake or reheat for fresh cookies any time of the day!
Trying this recipe out? Make sure you hashtag #bakestarters on Instagram so we can see your wonderful creations!
Read Next: How To Adapt Cookie Recipes To Suit Your Flavour and Taste Palette
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The Bakestarters blog features tips and lessons to baking in Singapore, along with useful tips when using our signature baking kits.
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