Buttery, melt-in-your-mouth shortbread with a hint of fresh orange flavor and a drizzle of dark chocolate. These slice and bake orange shortbread cookies are a simple and sophisticated treat!
After the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, it's easy to forget the other important season upon us: citrus season! That glorious time of year when blood oranges and Meyer lemons make an appearance at the grocery store and provide a little ray of sunshine during the cold winter months.
I love the rich and buttery taste of shortbread, but I never make it for the holidays because it's always overshadowed by seasonal cookie favorites like gingerbread and peppermint. But adding fresh orange zest to shortbread gives it a subtle pop of flavor to elevate the cookies. And topped off with a coating - or a drizzle - of rich dark chocolate, these chocolate orange shortbread cookies will be a welcome addition to your holiday cookie plate!
Why This Recipe Works
This simple shortbread cookie recipe is based on traditional Scottish shortbread, made with just butter, sugar, salt, and flour. These basic ingredients, and no leavener, create a cookie that's slightly crisp with a gentle bite. Lots of butter keeps the cookies ever-so-slightly soft and creates that incredible melt-in-your-mouth texture. The addition of orange zest and dark chocolate adds extra flavor and interest.
Ingredient Notes & Substitutions
Unsalted Butter - Butter gives these cookies their flavor, so use a good quality butter for the best flavor.
Confectioners' Sugar - Extra fine, confectioners' sugar creates a cookie that's not at all grainy.
Orange Zest - Zest adds a hit of citrus flavor to the cookie. Be sure to use freshly grated zest, as it dries out quickly. Also be sure to zest just the outermost skin of the orange, since the white pith underneath the orange zest can be bitter.
Bittersweet Chocolate Baking Bar - A chocolate baking bar is preferred since it's smooth and creamy when melted. It's more difficult to melt chocolate chips to a perfectly smooth consistency, since they contain stabilizers, though you can substitute them if you must. You can substitute semisweet chocolate or milk chocolate if you prefer.
Vegetable Oil - A tiny bit of vegetable oil helps to create an ultra smooth and creamy chocolate for dipping. You can substitute refined coconut oil.
See recipe card at the bottom of this post for full ingredient list and measurements.
In addition to essential baking equipment (like a spatula and baking sheet), I recommend some special tools for making this recipe.
- Stand mixer or electric hand mixer, for mixing the cookie dough
- Double boiler (or microwave safe bowl), for melting the chocolate
Step-By-Step Recipe Instructions
Step 1: Beat butter, confectioners' sugar, vanilla, and salt until combined. Add orange zest and mix to combine.
Step 2: Stir in the flour until the dough comes together.
Step 3: Roll dough into a log 4 inches long and 2 inches in diameter. Wrap tightly with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 2 hours.
Step 4: Slice the dough into ¼ inch circles.
Step 5: Bake the cookies at 300°F on parchment-lined baking sheets for 15-18 minutes, or until edges just begin to turn golden. Cool completely on a wire rack.
Step 6: Melt the chopped chocolate in a double boiler. Add the vegetable oil and stir well to combine.
Step 7: Use a spoon to drizzle the chocolate over the cookies. Let the chocolate set before eating.
Or you can dip cookies halfway into the melted chocolate. Again, let the chocolate set before eating.
See recipe card at the bottom of this post for detailed recipe instructions.
Be careful not to overwork the dough after adding the flour, since this will lead to tough cookies.
The cookie scooting method doesn't work to re-shape these cookies after they bake. For perfectly round cookies, you'll want to roll a perfectly round log of dough before chilling and slicing the dough.
If dipping cookies in melted chocolate, scrape excess chocolate off bottom of cookies on edge of bowl.
If drizzling chocolate onto cookies, do it with cookies on a piece of parchment. Move the cookies a few times as the chocolate sets so that the bits of chocolate at the edges of the cookies don't stick to the parchment and rip off the cookie once hardened.
Sugar cookies have a lighter texture, while shortbread cookies are more dense and crisp and have a stronger butter flavor. Sugar cookies include leavener (baking powder or soda), while shortbread is traditionally made of just butter, sugar, flour, and salt.
Shortbread cookie dough contains lots of butter, which is warmed from mixing the dough and rolling it into a log. If you slice and immediately bake the dough with the warm butter, the cookies will be thinner and more crispy. That's why it's important to chill the cookie dough before slicing and baking the cookies.
Room Temperature: Let the chocolate harden before placing cookies in an airtight container between layers of parchment paper. Store cookies at room temperature for up to 5 days.
Freezing: Shortbread freezes very well. These cookies can be stored in the freezer, sealed in an airtight container, for up to 3 months. For best results, freeze the cookies without the chocolate and add chocolate after thawing cookies.
More Chocolatey Cookie Recipes
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Orange Shortbread Cookies with Dark Chocolate Drizzle
- Stand mixer or electric hand mixer
- double boiler (or microwave-safe bowl)
- ½ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
- ½ cup confectioners' sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon orange zest, firmly packed (from one large orange)
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate baking bar, finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter, confectioners' sugar, vanilla, and salt until combined. Add orange zest and mix on low speed to combine.
- With the mixer running on low speed, stir in the flour until the dough comes together.
- Roll dough into a log 4 inches long and 2 inches in diameter. Wrap tightly with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 2 hours.
- Preheat the oven to 300°F. Remove the dough log from the fridge and remove the plastic wrap. Lay the log of dough on a cutting board and, using a sharp knife, cut the dough into ¼ inch circles.
- Place the cookie dough on baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Bake for 15-18 minutes or until edges just begin to turn golden. Let cookies cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
- Melt the chopped chocolate in a double boiler. Add the vegetable oil and stir well to combine.
- Dip cookies halfway into the melted chocolate or use a spoon to drizzle the chocolate over the cookies. Let the chocolate set before eating.