Intense orange-chocolate-almond cookies

I had the idea to make these cookies a few weeks ago.  I call them intense orange-chocolate-almond cookies.  That's quite a mouthful for a title but it sums them up.  They look like ordinary chocolate chunk cookies but they're filled with a strong burst of orange flavor and embedded with bits of almonds, surrounding by that dark chocolate.  Some special chocolate bars provide a shortcut to achieving those flavors but to boost it further, I added fresh orange zest and almond extract to the cookie dough.
I snuck in a little bit of whole wheat pastry flour and you really can't tell one bit.  For half of my batch, I also added additional chunks of toasted almonds.

I got the idea to make these cookies after seeing a cookie recipe using chopped Toblerone chocolate bars.  Now, Toblerones and I go way back and they have a very special place in my heart.  I think they're pretty perfect on their own  and while I'd be thrilled to taste them in a cookie, I got to thinking about what other chocolate bars would work and hold up well baked in cookie form.  Right away, I thought of these...
I'll restrain myself from calling the Lindt Intense Orange chocolate bars one of my favorites because, while I do love them, anyone who knows me well knows I am a chocoholic and, thus, my list of favorites is rather long.  That said, they are really delicious both in flavor and texture.  The thin dark chocolate bar has bits of orange peel in it that really makes it deserving of that "intense-orange" description.  Plus, there are slivered almonds embedded within them.  I mean, what better combination is there than chocolate and orange, and with nuts as a bonus (well, okay...I could think of others like, say, chocolate and mint)!
I was confident these chocolate bars would be great in a cookie, and they really were!  The flavors stay intact and you get texture with the pieces of chewy orange and almond slivers already provided by the chocolate bar.  To heighten the flavors, I added orange zest and some almond extract.  I divided my cookie dough in half and added toasted, chopped almonds to one portion of the dough.  We actually preferred the ones without the additional almonds more since it really allowed the orange and dark chocolate flavor to shine.  
If you like the combination of dark chocolate and orange, I think you would enjoy these very flavorful cookies.  My family and I really did!

My 7-year old called this my "fractured recipe".  You see, his second grade class just finished a fairy tale unit at school.  They've been reading fairy tales and writing their own versions, basically creating "fractured fairy tales" with their own spins on the classics.  When we sat down to eat these cookies and I told him how I started off with a chocolate chip cookie recipe that I really liked but changed ingredients and added different components to alter the flavor, he said "Cool!  It's like a fractured recipe!"  It gave me a good laugh, and I think he's absolutely right in his description.  I don't often "fracture" recipes, if you will, but I'm so glad I tried this idea.  It took me just a little outside my box and led to a rewarding result!


To start this recipe, I began with David Lebovitz's chocolate chip cookies.  I used that as the backbone and went from there to build the orange, chocolate, and almond flavors.  

Instead of using just all-purpose flour, I added a little whole wheat pastry flour into the mix.  I keep a container in my cupboard and substitute a little bit of it for all-purpose flour when it makes sense.  It's delicate enough to work in many situations and you hardly notice it in most cases.  I used 1 cup of all-purpose and 1/4 cup of whole wheat pastry flour in this first attempt.

Since orange has a leading role in these cookies, I zested one orange directly on top of some granulated sugar.  Rub the zest into the sugar with your clean fingertips to release the oils and really maximize the flavor.  I picked this trick up from Dorie Greenspan and do it whenever there's zest and sugar involved in something I'm baking.
Then I added brown sugar and a stick of butter.  Beat the mixture for about a minute before adding an egg to combine.  Rather than just vanilla extract, I also added about 1/2 teaspoon of almond extract (which I just love) to pick up on the slivered almonds in the chocolate bars already and the additional almonds I add to half the batch later.  Gradually add the dry ingredients until the dough is just mixed together.

Finally, the chopped Lindt Intense Orange chocolate bars are stirred in.  I decided to use 5 ounces of the chocolate, which is 1 1/2 bars (leaving some to snack on) but you could definitely go ahead and use 7 ounces, or 2 full chocolate bars.
At the last minute, I decided to divide my dough in half (roughly) and add some chopped toasted almonds to one portion.  As I mentioned earlier, I actually don't think the cookies need it but you just don't know until you try!
Half the cookie dough with additional chopped toasted almonds(left), half without
Refrigerate the dough for at least half an hour or overnight before baking.  You can keep it in the fridge for about 3 days actually.  I find that a little chilling time does do cookies some good but I can't really tell the difference between cookies refrigerated overnight or 3 days in terms of taste.  In appearance, however, the cookie dough that's been refrigerated longer tends to bake up darker, which I like, but I can't say I taste a major difference.
However long you decide to chill your cookie dough, these should bake in a 350 degree oven for roughly 10 minutes, until the sides are set and golden but the center is still a little moist.  We are going for a soft, chewy cookie, which I generally recommend eating warm.  But in this case, these cookies are actually really great at room temperature.  The orange and dark chocolate flavors really pop.


Recipe:

Intense Orange-Chocolate-Almond Cookies
Inspired by Lindt's Intense Orange chocolate bar and based, very loosely, on David Lebovitz's chocolate chip cookies

- Makes approximately 1 1/2 dozen cookies (depending on size) -

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour (or you could go with more all-purpose flour)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
6 tablespoons granulated sugar
Zest of 1 orange
1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 large egg, at room temperature
5 oz. to 7oz. (1 1/2 to 2 bars) Lindt Intense Orange chocolate bar, coarsely chopped
Optional: 1/3 cup toasted almonds, chopped into small pieces

Whisk the flours, baking soda, and salt together in a bowl.

Place granulated sugar into the bowl of a standmixer fitted with the paddle attachment.  Zest the orange directly on top of the sugar.  Rub zest into the sugar until mixture feel moist.  Add butter and brown sugar into the bowl, and beat on medium-high speed until combined, about a minute.  Beat in the almond and vanilla extracts.  Add egg and mix, scraping down the bowl as needed.  On low-speed, add the flour mixture and beat until just incorporated.  Add chocolate chunks (and almonds, if using) and stir in to combine.

Cover and refrigerate the cookie dough for at least 30 minutes or overnight (and up to 3 days).

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, with racks positioned in the upper and lower thirds.  Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

Using a small ice cream scoop or spoon, drop heaping tablespoon mounds of cookie dough on the baking sheet, spacing cookies about 2 inches apart.  Bake for approximately 10-11 minutes, until cookies are set and golden at the edges but still a bit moist in the center.

Remove the cookie sheets from the oven.  Let cookies cool and firm up slightly before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely.  Store cooled cookies in an airtight container for up to 3 days.  




34 comments:

  1. Lindt...that's my FAVOURITE! I too love the classic combo of chocolate and orange. These cookies look fantastic!

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    1. They *are* good, aren't they! It's got me thinking about a bunch of Lindt bars that I haven't had in a long time...like the one with wafers in the middle, kind of like a Kit Kat but better. : )

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  2. I love the fact that you were so generous on the chocolate. Home made biscuits are like that aren't they? They're made for sharing and eating :D

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    1. And here I was thinking I should have threw in the whole 2 bars of chocolate, Lorraine! : ) Yes, there's nothing like a platter of cookies/biscuits for sharing.

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  3. I agree that chocolate and orange are a fabulous pair! Thanks for the tip about adding the zest into the sugar too - so smart!!

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    1. I read that tip from Dorie Greenspan once and thought it was just genius. She learned it from French pastry chef, Pierre Herme! Very good sources, I'd say! ; )

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  4. I love the fractured reference - what a smart kid! And very smart of you too - lovely combination - orange and chocolate can't be beat.

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    1. Haha - thank you, Tricia! You know how it is as a mom - we find every excuse to mention them and everything they say is amusing. : )

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  5. Orange Chocolate is my all-time favorite flavor combo. What a great idea to put them in a cookie :) And your son's comment is so cute...and smart! Look at him applying concepts he's learned to life!

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    1. Hi Amy! It usually seems like a waste to put actual chocolate bars in a cookie or baked good but these Lindt bars really give you a shortcut to the orange-chocolate flavor...even the almonds are in there! Thanks for saying that about my son. He's usually only interested in eating so I was thrilled when he seemed to be listening to me (for a change) and made a connection. : )

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  6. These look AMAZING. Chocolate and orange is such an awesome combo. :)

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    1. Oh yes, I remember those orange-chocolate muffins of yours I tried. Like you, I love the combination so much...it's hard to beat.

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  7. Nice combo idea! I like using some of the flavored chocolate bars from our local chocolate factory. They go well in a basic cookie recipe. :)

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    1. "Local chocolate factory" sounds so nice and convenient! These chocolate bars really give the cookies a ton of flavor immediately.

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  8. Anything with chocolate in it gets a tick from me! These look great.

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    1. I'm with you - Total chocoholic here!

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  9. I love chocolate and orange combo! Aren't they fantastic? Such a great idea to incorporate them in a cookie recipe. A big glass of milk with these and I'm happy!!! :) Great post Monica!

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    1. Absolutely amazing combination, I agree, Anne. I love orangettes...wish they were easy to make.

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  10. I absolutely love the combination of chocolate and citrus and I can't wait to try this recipe! These cookies look so moist, chewy and flavorful!

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    1. Thanks for stopping by, Kelly! I hope you try it - it's such a easy way to get a bold orange-chocolate combo. (I like chocolate with lemon zest and both orange and lemon together too.)

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  11. Monica, these cookies sound and look delicious, I love the idea of the intense orange chocolate in this cookies...somehow, orange and chocolate is a great match. I love it!
    Have a great week my dear :)

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  12. I love orange and chocolate together - these cookies sound right up my alley! I somtimes used the Lindt dark chocolate with sea salt bars on cookies and it is equally delicious :)

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    1. Bianca - the dark chocolate with sea salt sounds great!!

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  13. Even though I am gluten free and Lindt chocolate does not say on its wrapper that its gluten free but its my favorite and use it in my baking. What an intense combination of favors in the cookies.

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    1. I agree, Lindt makes good chocolate.

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  14. how have I never thought to use different flavored chocolate bars as a means of shaking up CCC's?! this post has opened up a whole new cookie world for me.

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    1. I was kind of thinking the same thing... I guess sometimes it seems wasteful and in some cases, it might not really work (like a twix bar is just better on its own!). Depends on the chocolate but using bars could make sense and be a major shortcut for a ton of flavor.

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  15. Love the combo of chocolate and orange. I want this cookies in my life!

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    1. Whoever discovered the combination deserves a prize!

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  16. Cool! I like cookies added with whole foods, almonds, whole wheat and ... zest of orange.

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    1. Same here! Thanks for stopping by!

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  17. I would LOVE THESE. i love chocolate orange together, and i love chocolate almond, and i love almond orange, so i don't even see how these could be anything but wonderful. Every time i'm in the "fancy chocolate" section of the grocery store, i like, whisk past it because i know i would be happy to try all of them, even just to see what they taste like. putting them in a recipe? that's a whole other level. :)

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    1. The orange-chocolate flavor is loud and proud here; I think you would like them. It does seem a little wasteful to put "fancy" chocolate bars in cookies but I could work well in some cases. Whenever I shop, I see tons of chocolate bars I'd love to taste-test. How is it possible I've eaten so much but yet eaten so little!?!

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