Greetings from the Finger Lakes! The three of us are staying in Geneva on Seneca Lake this weekend with some friends. Today’s agenda = wine tour & babies. We’ve never been to the Finger Lakes before, so we’re really excited to not only catch up with great friends, but to explore. Do you have any recommendations in this area?
Before heading up north, I baked a batch of orange scented cookies and stuffed them with smooth chocolate ganache. This cookie recipe is straight from my girl Rebecca Firth’s new cookbook, The Cookie Book. Rebecca runs the blog Displaced Housewife. Her stunning photography and food styling is GOALS; I’m inspired every time I click over. Her new cookie cookbook, packed with 75 decadent and unique cookie recipes, is equally awesome. This fully photography cookbook is made for all of us: cookie lovers and beautiful food enthusiasts!
Rebecca is gracious enough to let me share a cookie recipe with you and when deciding which recipe to publish, I found myself in a delicious dilemma. What the heck do I make first?!? My eyes (and stomach) were immediately drawn to the Old Fashioned Iced Oatmeal Cookies. Then the Carrot Cake Bars and Red Velvet Madeleines and Pecan Brittle Bark Cookies and oh yeah, the Cold Brew Cookies. I finally decided on a shortbread-style cookie flecked with orange zest and filled with thickened ganache. They’re sophisticated, simple, soft, and buttery and… best of all… they taste EXACTLY like Pepperidge Farm milano cookies.
They were supposed to be for this weekend but they never made it past Wednesday night.
BEHIND THE RECIPE
The recipe begins a very familiar way: buttery cookie dough. You’ll need butter, confectioners’ sugar, egg, an additional egg yolk for flavor, orange zest, vanilla extract, salt, and flour. If cut thick enough (I’ll show ya how!), they’re incredibly soft. Unlike sugar cookies which are typically crisp on the edges, these cookies are crumbly on the edges– very similar to shortbread. Thick & soft with velvety chocolate ganache, they’ll crumble in your mouth. The orange gives the cookies a zesty flavor twist and is the perfect pair for that dark + decadent ganache. Confectioners’ sugar, as opposed to granulated sugar, keeps the cookie thick and smooth. It also takes the place of some of the flour in the recipe, so these aren’t particularly dry like most butter cookies you’re used to. Rebecca, you’ve truly worked your magic.
We’re going to roll the cookie dough out exactly like I’ve taught you with my sugar cookie dough. A little refresher for you:
- make cookie dough
- divide in two pieces
- roll out cookie dough on silicone baking mats or parchment paper
- chill rolled out cookie dough for 1 hour
- cut into shapes
- bake & cool
Notice that you’ll roll out the dough BEFORE chilling it in the refrigerator.
- Why before? The dough is so much easier to roll out before it’s chilled.
- Why are we chilling it? So the cookies keep their shape when baked.
- Why divide in 2? Because it’s difficult to roll out a huge mass of dough. Dividing into smaller sections makes rolling out more manageable.
- Why on a silicone baking mat? Because you have to chill the rolled out dough in the fridge. And you can’t really pick up a mass of dough you rolled out on the counter, right? Nor can you cut into shapes when the dough is this warm. So roll out on a nonstick surface that you can literally pick up, put on a baking sheet, and place in the fridge.
Get it? Got it? Good!
Roll out the dough to 1/4-inch thickness. This produces soft and thick cookies. 🙂
Rebecca uses an adorable fluted edge square cookie cutter in her cookbook, but I reached for my fluted edge circle cookie cutter. Use any shape cookie cutter you’d like. Since you’re eating two cookies at a time sandwich-style, I suggest using a small cookie cutter to make petite sandwiches. I used the 1.5 inch size from this cookie cutter set.
Cut the cookie dough after it’s chilled.
I pressed some coarse sugar into the tops of each orange scented cookie before baking. This is for a little crunch and sparkle. Totally optional, of course.
Since we chilled the cookie dough, we’re promised the cookies will hold their beautiful shape as they bake. Bake until very lightly browned on the edges. So delightful even without the chocolate ganache! I literally want to throw a tea party just to serve these butter cookies.
2 ingredient ganache for those centers: warm cream + finely chopped chocolate. Make sure you let it cool and thicken before sandwiching in the cookies. Time saving tip: prepare the ganache as the cookies bake so it can cool down as the cookies cool.
After a couple hours, the ganache will set so you can stack and store the cookies. By day 2, the ganache will have softened the two cookies surrounding it AND that delicious orange flavor will be stronger. Each bite tastes like those orange flavored chocolate milano cookies we all know and love!!
Let’s give Rebecca a huge THANK YOU for these incredible cookies!
Butter Cookies with Orange & Chocolate Ganache
- 1 cup (2 sticks; 230g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- 3/4 cup (90g) confectioners' sugar
- 1 and 1/2 Tablespoons orange zest (about 1 orange)
- 1 large egg, at room temperature
- 1 large egg yolk, at room temperature
- 1 and 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 cups (250g) all-purpose flour, plus more as needed for rolling
- optional: coarse sugar for topping
- 1/2 cup (120ml) heavy cream
- 4-ounce semi-sweet chocolate bar (113g), finely chopped
- Preliminary note: The chocolate ganache requires at least 30 minutes to thicken before it can be used in the cookie sandwiches. I recommend starting the ganache as the cookies bake!
- In a large bowl using a hand-held or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium high speed until completely smooth and creamy, about 2 minutes. Add the confectioners' sugar and orange zest, then beat until combined, about 1 minute. Next, add the egg, egg yolk, vanilla extract, and salt. Beat on high speed until combined, scraping down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl as needed. Finally, beat in the flour on low speed until combined. The cookie dough will be soft.
- Lightly flour your hands, work surface, and rolling pin. Divide the dough into 2 equal parts. Roll each portion out onto a piece of parchment paper or a lightly floured silicone baking mat (I prefer the nonstick silicone mat) to about 1/4-inch thickness. The rolled-out dough can be any shape, as long as it is evenly 1/4-inch thick.
- Stack the pieces, with parchment paper between the two, onto a baking sheet and refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to 2 days. If chilling for more than a couple hours, cover the top dough piece with a single piece of parchment paper.
- Once chilled, preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. Remove one of the dough pieces from the refrigerator and, using a 1.5-inch cookie cutter, cut into shapes. I used the 1.5 inch fluted round cookie cutter from this adorable set. Re-roll the remaining dough and continue cutting until all is used. Repeat with 2nd dough piece. Arrange cookies on baking sheets 2 inches apart. If desired, sprinkle + press some coarse sugar into the tops.
- Bake cookies for 9-10 minutes until very lightly browned around the edges. Make sure you rotate the baking sheet halfway through bake time. Allow cookies to cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before decorating.
- Make the ganache: Place chopped chocolate in a bowl. Heat the cream in a small saucepan until it begins to gently simmer. (Do not let it come to a rapid boil-- that's too hot!) Pour over chocolate and let it sit for 2-3 minutes to gently soften the chocolate. Slowly stir until completely combined and chocolate has melted. Allow to cool and thicken for at least 30 minutes or until spreadable consistency.
- Spread the ganache onto the flat side of one cookie and sandwich with the other. Repeat with remaining.
- Cookies will stay fresh covered at room temperature for 3 days or in the refrigerator for 1 week.
Make ahead tip: Chocolate ganache can be prepared, covered, and refrigerated for up to 3 days before using. Let it sit at room temperature to soften or microwave for 5-10 seconds before using. Plain (un-sandwiched) cookies freeze well up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator. You can chill the rolled-out cookie dough in the refrigerator for up to 2 days (step 4). You can also freeze the cookie dough, before rolling out in step 3, for up to 3 months. Then allow to thaw overnight in the refrigerator and bring to room temperature before rolling out. Chill for only 30 minutes in step 4 as opposed to 1 hour.
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Oh and instead of chocolate ganache, do the salted caramel thing. Seriously. Do it. (Let the caramel cool for 15 minutes before sandwiching!)
SHOP THE RECIPE
Here are some items I used to make today’s recipe.
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