Every December my mom turns into a Christmas baking machine. Everyday for a month she’s getting butter out to soften, firing up the oven, and cranking out cookies. There are peanut butter balls, fudge, jam turn-overs, bittersweet chocolate and coconut shortbread, cherry bars, buttery cut-outs, snowballs, thumbprint cookies, and on and on.
It’s pretty amazing. It’s also a ton of work, lots of trips to the baking aisle of the supermarket, plenty of yelling at cookie dough-snitching kids/dogs/husbands, a few miscellaneous melt-downs along the way.
There is another way though. An easy way. You can arrive at your holiday gatherings with a kaleidoscope of cookies without baking for a solid month.
It’s called a cookie exchange. Most people are probably familiar with the concept, but it came as a revelation to me. You gather up a few friends (preferably amazing bakers) and everyone makes a big batch of one type of cookie to share with the group. You end up with a beautiful assortment of goodies after only one day of cookie baking. Plus, if you’re not a blabber-mouthed food blogger, you can bring your beautiful tray to Christmas, pass them all off as your own, and really impress your family and friends.
Alright, even though I’d love to take credit for that whole cookie tray, the only thing I can claim ownership of are the chocolate-dipped orange shortbread cookies on the right.
Let’s move on it. We’re making a sharing sized batch. 2 sticks of butter, flour, sugar, cornstarch, candied orange peel, splash of Grand Marnier, and an egg yolk.
Cream the butter and sugar. Add the yolk and a spoonful of orange liquor.
Whisk your dry ingredients, stir in diced orange peel. Add to creamed butter mixture and mix ’til combined.
Slice, bake, and cool.
Melt bittersweet chocolate. Is there a kitchen task more gratifying than melting a bowl of chocolate over simmering water? Didn’t think so.
Set up a little stovetop work station. Wax paper-lined baking sheet, stack of cooled cookies, perfectly smooth melted chocolate. Dip, drip, repeat.
- ½# (2 sticks) Unsalted Butter, softened
- ½ c. Sugar
- 1 Egg Yolk
- 1 tsp. Grand Marnier (or Triple Sec, or any orange liqueur)
- 1½ c. All Purpose Flour
- ½ c. Corn Starch
- ¼ tsp. Salt
- ½ c. Candied Orange Peel, diced
- 4 oz. Bittersweet Chocolate, chopped
- Cream together butter and sugar, about 1 minute. Add egg yolk and Grand Marnier, beat to combine.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cornstarch, salt, and diced orange peel.
- Add dry ingredients to creamed butter. Mix until just combined. Divide dough in half or thirds and form logs. Wrap dough logs in waxed paper and refrigerate until firm, at least an hour.
- Preheat oven to 300°. Cut chilled logs crosswise in quarter inch intervals. Place cookies on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake until lightly golden, about 25 minutes. Cool completely on baking rack.
- When cookies have cooled completely, melt chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water, stirring occasionally, until it is smooth. Dip top half of each cookie in melted chocolate and place on a wax paper or parchment-lined tray. Refrigerate until chocolate has hardened.