December 21, 2011

Orange Chocolate Chip Cookies

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Do you ever get something that you're so excited about, and then it turns out completely disappointing? Around Thanksgiving time, I found these refrigerated break-apart cookie dough things that I thought were going to be fantastic. I thought they were chocolate chip cookies with little orange flavored chips in them. We're chocolate orange fans in my family. My dad loves them, and we always got them in our stockings, so these cookies sounded perfect. I was also starving when I was at the grocery store, so that might have had something to do with it.

I baked the cookies and found that not only were they not orange-flavored, they were just orange-colored bits of sugar candies that had replaced half of the chocolate chips. The dough also spread really thin while baking, and the result was a thin, crunchy cookie that tasted like a too-sweet sugar cookie with the occasional chocolate (flavored, not actual chocolate I found later) chip. Now don't get me wrong; I love sugar cookies. But these were not even good sugar cookies. And when you're expecting a warm, gooey, brown sugar-y chocolate chip cookie, a crappy sugar cookie just isn't going to cut it. I decided then and there that I was going to make my own version of the orange chocolate chip cookie that I had been expecting.

Fast forward to today. I was going to post the applesauce cupcakes that I had created over the weekend, but then I realized: everything that I've posted so far has cinnamon in it. Even the gift set post uses chai tea latte mix and gingerbread marshmallows both of which have cinnamon. Now I realize, three posts isn't all that much, and cinnamon's a pretty prevalent spice in the baking world and at this time of year. But I figured that I should mix it up a bit before this became the cinnamon blog. That's when I remembered the orange chocolate chip cookie debacle. And call me crazy, but chocolate and orange just says Christmas to me.

I realized something odd about myself a few weeks ago- I don't have a go-to chocolate chip cookie recipe (other than Wookiee Cookies from The Star Wars Cookbook, which have cinnamon). Every baker, beginner or advanced, seems to have a favorite recipe for chocolate chip cookies that they can whip up whenever the occasion seems to call for it, but not me. I rarely bake cookies, and when I do it tends to be something unusual like banana cookies. So when I decided to do the orange chocolate chip cookies, I knew that I had to use a reliable recipe as a base, since I didn't really have enough experience to throw one together on my own. For this, I consulted Old Reliable- my copy of The Good Housekeeping Illustrated Cookbook. This book is older than I am, but it's never let me down before- although I have to admit, it called for way too many chocolate chips. I've reduced them in the recipe, but you have to trust me on this; I had more chocolate chips than cookie dough. Really though, that's a problem that I don't mind having.

The cast of characters here today are all-purpose flour, sugar, light brown sugar, 1 egg, baking soda and salt, an orange for both zest and juice, and chocolate chips. I used both milk and semisweet chocolate chips, because the chocolate oranges tend to be milk chocolate, and the semisweet just to add a little extra chocolate punch. Oh, and I also used a stick of ninja butter, which is why you can't see it in the photo. *cough*I forgot*cough*.

I don't have my usual photos of all the steps because my brother was distracting me by playing I Am Santa Claus, and we were talking about how I was going to make chocolate beer cookies and I had my dough all ready before I knew it. So blame him. It's a regular chocolate chip cookie recipe, so it's easy-peasy. The hardest part is zesting the orange. I use a grater.

Beat the (ninja) butter and the sugars together until fluffy. Add the egg, zest, and juice. Add the dry ingredients.
Ta da! Cookie dough. There should be a strong orange flavor to the dough (like you don't taste your cookie dough. Right, and I'm one of the Doctor's companions). Remember, some of that will bake off.
Drop them by rounded tablespoonful (or cookie scoop) onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. These actually don't spread very much, so you only need to leave about an inch between the cookies. Bake at 375 degrees for about 8 minutes or until golden brown.
The finished product will have a slightly orange-y hue. The taste definitely reminds me of the chocolate oranges, especially with the milk chocolate chips.
Merry Christmas and a Happy Chanukah!

Orange Chocolate Chip Cookies {Printable Version}

Yield: 22-24 cookies
1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. baking soda
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
½ cup packed light brown sugar
¼ cup granulated sugar
1 egg
2 tsp. fresh orange juice
1 ½ tsp. orange zest
¾ cup semisweet chocolate chips
¾ cup milk chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375°. In a medium mixing bowl, mix together flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer, or in a large mixing bowl with electric beaters, beat butter and sugars together at medium speed until fluffy. Add the egg, orange zest and juice and mix well. Add the flour mixture and beat until fully incorporated. Fold in chocolate chips. Drop batter by rounded tablespoonful on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until lightly browned. Let cool completely on wire racks before serving.

Recipe adapted from The Good Housekeeping Illustrated Cookbook

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