shortbread cookies, two ways
These cookies both start with the same shortbread base -- a blank canvas for vibrant, creative flavors. One version is warm, spicy, and sweet, almost like a buttery graham cracker with a peppery bite, covered in looping drizzles of melted chocolate. The other is flecked with orange zest, both throughout the dough and its icing, adding an acidic brightness in contrast to the rich, buttery cookie. Initially, I was planning on making both, and sharing whichever one I preferred. But, after tasting them, I really can't say which I like more. So, here you have it: shortbread cookies, two ways.
for the shortbread base:
2 cups all purpose flour
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup confectioner's sugar
1 teaspoon coarse salt
for the spiced shortbread with chocolate drizzle:
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper [I find this amount to give a nice kick without being overpowering. If you are really sensitive to heat though, you may want to use a bit less].
1/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup bittersweet chocolate chips
coarse salt, to taste
for the iced orange shortbread:
1 1/4 teaspoons orange zest
3/4 cup confectioner's sugar
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed orange juice
First, make the plain shortbread dough: sift [or whisk] the flour and salt in a medium-sized bowl. In a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium high for about 2-3 minutes. With the mixer on low, gradually add the sugar. Increase the mixer's speed to medium high and beat, scraping down the sides as needed, until mixture is pale in color, about 3-4 additional minutes. Lower the mixer's speed to low, and gradually add flour mixture. Mix until just combined. Remove dough from bowl and divide it into two equal portions.
To make the spiced shortbread dough: add one portion of the dough back to the mixer and sprinkle in cinnamon and cayenne pepper. Mix on low until incorporated. Remove dough from bowl and roll into a fat log. Wrap in plastic wrap and transfer to the refrigerator. Chill for at least 30 minutes before baking. [it will be easier to roll into a skinnier log once the dough is chilled]
To make the orange shortbread dough: add one portion of dough to the mixer and sprinkle in 1 teaspoon of the orange zest. Mix on low until incorporated. Remove dough from bowl and roll into a fat log. Wrap in plastic wrap and transfer to the refrigerator. Chill for at least 30 minutes before baking. [it will be easier to roll into a skinnier log once the dough is chilled]
*Make sure to clean the mixer bowl in between making the two versions!
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Once chilled, remove the logs of dough from the refrigerator, unwrap, and roll them both until they are about 1 1/2 - 2-inches in diameter. Slice into 1/4-inch medallions and place on a large, parchment lined baking sheet. Make sure to leave a little bit of space around each cookie.
Bake, on the center rack, until cookies are lightly golden brown around the edges, about 15-20 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.
While cookies are cooling, make the glazes.
To make the chocolate glaze: combine both kinds of chocolate chips in a small bowl. Microwave in 30 second intervals [stirring in between each interval], being careful not to burn. [If you prefer, you can also use a double boiler]. Mix until completely melted and smooth.
To make orange glaze: Add sugar, heavy cream, orange juice, and orange zest to a small bowl. Whisk until completely combined and smooth.
Next, decorate the cookies. Once they have completely cooled, drizzle the melted chocolate over the spiced shortbread cookies, and sprinkle with salt [I actually used a cinnamon, chipotle salt that I happened to have on hand, which was delicious -- you could even make your own mixture of cinnamon, cayenne, and salt for garnish -- don't be afraid to experiment!] Dip the top of the orange shortbread cookies in the orange glaze and allow excess to drip off. Allow all cookies to sit at room temperature until the chocolate and glaze is hardened, then transfer to an airtight container to store. [You can refrigerate the cookies to speed the drying process, but they do not need to be stored in the refrigerator].
Makes about 24 cookies [12 of each flavor]