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Buttery rich with bittersweet chocolate, candied orange and pistachios! Chocolate Orange Pistachio Shortbread is one great cookie. Not too sweet, and with melt-in-your-mouth goodness, these lovely shortbread cookies are perfect to adorn any holiday table.
I love a good shortbread cookie. [See below for links to other shortbread options.] These surprisingly sturdy cookies are naturally festive. They come decked out with green from the pistachios, orange from the candied peel, with chocolate chunks all embedded in a golden cookie. Chocolate Orange Pistachio Shortbread are wonderful on their own, but also make a perfect counterpoint to other sweeter cookies that may make up your holiday cookie box.
One of the first things I ever baked on my own were cookies. I would send them to brother in college to share with his roommates. And one holiday I baked about 100 gingerbread men/women to share with the doctors and nurses in the recovery room where I volunteered. I still find it difficult to believe, but I actually stayed up late lovingly decorating them to resemble the different hospital staff. And maybe that’s what pushed me over the edge! But I didn’t make cookies for years after that.
Since the pandemic, though, I have gotten back into making cookies. If you are doing them all by yourself, there is no getting around that it can get a bit tedious. If, however, you can break up the task, it’s not too bad. So I prepared the dough for five different cookies over a single day. Then I refrigerated them and am now baking them up over a couple of days.
Even though I may not make certain things, I’m always on the lookout for new recipes. It’s a wonderful antidote to the relentless bombardment of bad news! I came across the recipe for Orange, Pistachio and Chocolate Shortbread and knew immediately that this was one recipe I would actually make. Of course, I made a few tweaks to “improve it” as my maternal grandmother would have said.
My version of Chocolate Orange Pistachio Shortbread follows. Shortbread keeps very well in an airtight tin, so are perfect for gifting. These are soooooooooooo good that you should be sure to save a bunch for yourself!
But as we are starting the Festival of Lights (Hanukkah) Sunday night, I will likely take a break from cookie baking in order to make latkes, sfenji, sufganiyot and beignets. Of course, I will need to give most of these away or my husband and I won’t fit through our front door!
As I have discovered rather late in my cooking game, doing all of your measuring and setting of your ingredients out before actually assembling (known as mise en place) makes for a much less stressful baking experience.
Try these other wonderful shortbread options:
Yield: About 40 cookies, depending on how you form and cut them
3 cups/419 grams all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt (such as Diamond Crystal)
1¼ cups/284 grams unsalted butter, at room temperature
¾ cup/175 grams granulated sugar
1 large egg yolk (save the white for a different cookie or to add to an omelette)
1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract
2 teaspoons orange blossom water (readily available online and in Middle Eastern grocery stores)
½ cup/76 grams roughly chopped candied orange peel
½ cup/76 grams shelled unsalted pistachios, roughly chopped
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
Whisk together flour and salt in a medium bowl. Combine butter and sugar in a large bowl, or in the bowl of a stand mixer. Using an electric mixer (fitted with the paddle attachment if using a stand mixer), beat at medium-high speed until the mixture is pale in color, about 3 minutes, scraping down the sides with a rubber spatula, as needed. Add egg yolk, almond extract and orange blossom water and blend until combined.
Add flour mixture in two batches and mix on low until barely combined. Use a rubber spatula to fold in the orange peel, pistachios, chopped chocolate and remaining bits of flour. The dough may appear crumbly. If necessary, gently need the mixture with your hands until you have a smooth dough with everything well distributed.
To form the cookies, cut the dough into 3 even portions. Roll each portion into a log with a flat bottom, top and ends. This can be pretty easily handled if you roll the dough using plastic wrap and a dough scraper pushed up against the sides to even out your log. Chill the dough 8 hours or for up to 3 days before cutting and baking. When you are ready to bake, remove the logs, one at a time from the fridge for about 15 minutes before cutting. If the dough is too hard, the pieces will break and too soft and they will just squish. Dough can always be remolded into a new log, so don’t worry if the first slices aren’t perfect!
To bake the cookies, heat the oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Place one log at a time on a cutting board and using a sharp, large knife, cut slices about 3/8-inches thick. Any pieces that aren’t perfect can be mushed together and rerolled.
The cookies do not spread much so you can place them about 1.5 inches apart on the cookie sheet. Ovens vary, as will the thickness of dough etc. Mine took about 18 minutes to bake, but just watch them after 15 minutes until you see how they are baking in your oven. You can always add time but once they are overbaked, there isn’t much you can do.
If you don’t have a convection oven (I DON’T) turn the trays once halfway for more even baking. And if some are darker than others, remove those to a cooling rack and put the others back until the desired golden color. These cookies are pretty forgiving.
Remove from the oven, allow cookies to cool completely on cooling racks. The cookies will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for at least 1 week.