Italian orange-chocolate sandwich cookies.

I don’t know if theres anyone who isn’t a fan of Oreo’s. Unless of course, you live in a country where they aren’t available, in which case you don’t know what you’re missing. I’m not a big cookie person myself, but I do love Oreo’s- particularly the DoubleStuf Oreo’s- once in a blue moon. I dip them into milk until they get like mush, then eat them. Thats also the only time I drink milk, unless its in my coffee. I used to like Keebler® Grasshopper’s too, but that was a different principle than a creme-filled cookie sandwich, those are more like mint Girl Scout Cookies which are also heavenly. Anyway… a sandwich cookie is always good. A chocolate sandwich cookie is better, and one thats more grown-up (in taste and texture) than an Oreo is even better. Because despite what the commercials tell you, you really can’t get away with dunking cookies in milk after a certain age without looking a bit… well, feeble. Or simple-minded. Unless you have children, in which case, dunk away and use them as an excuse. I mean, isn’t that what you had them for?

These are Giada de Laurentiis‘ cookies, made with polenta and orange zest. Polenta is basically cornmeal, so you could use that as well. I decided to not be rebellious this time and use what the recipe called for, so I infact used polenta. The polenta gives a nice crunch, or crispness to the cookie- it makes it hard as opposed to a soft Little Debbie type cookie… and the orange zest makes it more adult  and yummier than the processed-sugar gluey substance that comes in most sandwich cookies. Not that I have anything against that. Oranges figure largely into the mediterranean/Italian diet. The zest  and essence are used in many pastries, and the peels are often candied for use in desserts and cakes. Here I present to you… a classy, gourmet, Italian orange chocolate sandwich cookie, or, biscotti di arancia di cioccolata.

ITALIAN ORANGE-CHOCOLATE SANDWICH COOKIES

Ingredients:

Chocolate Cookies:

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature (2 sticks)
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup polenta (or cornmeal)
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ orange, zested

Orange Filling:

  • ½ cup unsalted butter, room temperature (1 stick)
  • ¾ cup powdered sugar (**I added ½ cup MORE because that didn’t seem like enough, it wasn’t stiff enough nor thick enough nor did it seem like enough of it… my cookies were a bit larger though, maybe 2 inches by 1 ½ inches)
  • ½ orange, zested
  • Pinch salt

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350° degrees F.
  2. To make the Chocolate Cookies, in a large bowl use an electric mixer to cream together the butter and sugar until light in color and fluffy. In another medium bowl stir together the flour, cornmeal or polenta, cocoa powder, baking powder, salt, and orange zest. Add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture and stir to combine using a wooden spoon. Place the dough on a sheet of plastic wrap. Press the dough into a 1-inch high round. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes and up to 1 day.

  3. Roll out the dough to ¼-inch thick. Use a 1 ¾-inch round cookie cutter to cut out the dough. Bake on a heavy baking sheet for 15 minutes. Place the baking sheets on a wire rack to cool cookies.

  4. Meanwhile, to make the Orange Filling, combine the butter, powdered sugar, orange zest, and salt in a medium bowl. Use an electric mixer to cream the ingredients together.

  5. To assemble the cookie sandwiches, place about 1 teaspoon of the Orange Filling on a cookie. Top with another cookie and press the cookies together. Store in an airtight container for up to 1 day.

These cookies were a pain the ASS. Such a pain in the ass, in fact that I almost gave up before even cutting the dough. I love you Giada but seriously… what the hell?! The friggin’ dough got really hard in the fridge, and I only left it in for 45 minutes- so my advice is to not leave it in overnight. So it was hard to roll out because it was, well, hard. Then, as it softened, it started to come apart. It stuck to the rolling pin even after I coated it in so much flour the dough was  turning white! But, alas… it worked out. I made my cookies thicker than I was “supposed” to, which made it easier for me to lift the softened dough onto the pan, and I didn’t have to roll it out anymore either. I used a heart-shaped cookie cutter, which I think added to the difficulty, because it was almost impossible to get them onto the pan in one piece, but was worth it in the end as I think they look really cute.

Don’t panic when you take them out of the oven and they’re mushy- they’ll harden. And they cool very fast. I did them in two batches, so by the time the second batch was done cooking the first was cooled, and I frosted them as the second batch cooled. Once the cutting out was done, they were simple. The filling was brainless and a monkey could put them together.

Were they worth the trouble? Yeah. They weren’t the best recipe ever, but it was a learning experience and they are very tasty. You could easily sit and eat like 5 of them in a row before even realizing it. I’d recommend them, but only if you have patience.

You couldn’t taste the zest in the actual cookie, much more so in the filling. I think I’d really like to try this with a mint-creme filling- and just omit the orange in both elements replacing it in the filling with a mint extract. Since I ended up adding a ½ cup more sugar to the filling anyway I doubt that would throw it off balance, liquid-wise. These in mint; jeez that would probably be amazing. And if you dipped half in melted chocolate… yum. I think I just remade Giada’s recipe in my head even better than it was originally.

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