Orange Shortbread with Dark Chocolate and Pistachios

 This recipes is one of my favorites from the holiday and can be eaten throughout the year. What I love about them is by using dark chocolate and salted pistachios it really balanced the sweetness. Often what I find is desserts are getting too sweet for me. Maybe my palette is changing, and if that's the case these cookies are the perfect transitions. If you are not a huge sweet tooth these are a delightful indulgence!
 These were sent off as gifts to family and friends. Using some paper boxes and festive tissue paper they were sent without a hitch! My favorite thing to do is bake and give it all away during the holidays. It's a great gift when you are unsure of what to get anyone and the time and care it takes to bake something really gives it a personal touch that anyone would love to receive.
If rolled to ¼ inch thick, this recipe makes 2 dozen two inch cookies, a bit thinner and you can stretch it to approximately 3 dozen. This dough is hampered by the use of electric mixers – you don’t want to incorporate air or volume. Hand mixing is essential.

1 lb salted butter, softened

¾ C light brown sugar

2 C all purpose flour (due to the dryness of Calgary this was greatly reduced from the original recipes requirement of 4 cups)

zest of 1 navel orange

1 C dark chocolate (chips or melting wafers are easiest)

1 C whole, roasted & salted pistachios, chopped

In a large bowl, with a large wooden spoon, begin to work the butter until it is very soft, but not greasy. Spread and flatten it against the bowl with the back of the wooden spoon until it is creamy and very pliable, scraping down the bowl occasionally. Add the zest and sugar, all at once, and stir until the sugar is dissolved and no longer gritty. Add the flour, 1/2 cup at a time, incorporating it fully before adding more. After you have added the second cup, you may want to finish mixing with your hands. Once all of the flour have been mixed in, the dough will be firm and uniform, not sticky, but only dry enough to crack slightly when pressed. Leave the dough to rest for at least 1 hour at room temperature – this allows for the flavours to meld and for the butter to be completely absorbed by the flour.

Once it is rested, roll the dough out to ¼” thick on a lightly floured surface. Cut out cookies in whatever shape you like. Traditionally, in our family the cookies are cut with a sharp knife into 1 inch squares. Then the tines of a fork are pressed into each side of the squares, giving them a ridged effect. Lastly they are pierced three times with the fork, making 3 rows of 4 small holes in the top. If you choose to make round cookies or other shapes, pricking them will help ensure that they bake up flat and smooth. Not pricking them may result in some bubbling and warping of the surface, however, I have never found this to be a major problem.

These cookies do not spread, so you can really load up your cookie sheet. Line it with parchment or if not using parchment, leave it ungreased, they are plenty buttery and will not stick. Bake at 325F for 12-13 minutes until the bottoms and bottom edge are golden and the tops are dry looking. Cool the cookies on a wire rack. Do not dip in chocolate until they are fully cooled.

Chop the pistachios finely and melt the chocolate (with 10 second intervals in the microwave, or in a heat proof bowl over simmering water). Dunk the cookies, shaking off excess (or dribble pools of chocolate on top) and roll through the finely chopped pistachios. Place the chocolate coated cookies on the same parchment lined cookie sheet and allow the chocolate to firm up.

To store, keep these tightly sealed for up to 2 weeks at room temperature. Fluctuations in temperature may cause the chocolate to ‘bloom’. All that means is that the chocolate may take on a chalky, white-ish appearance. No cause for alarm, it is just a result of the cocoa butter and cocoa solids separating slightly. They will still be good to eat.

Recipe adapted from Feast For All Seasons blog

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