Chocolate and orange are a classic pairing and holiday treat for anyone who’s ever gotten one of those Terry’s chocolate spheres in their stocking. Here, the flavors are married in a homemade version of McVitie’s jaffa biscuits, a British cookie packed with orange flavor and coated on one side in chocolate. Look for the Hu brand of chocolate, which is vegan, at Erewhon, Lassen’s or online. And although the candied orange peel is optional, it is quick to make and adds a festive touch to the tops of the cookies.
Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda.
In a medium bowl, combine the sugar, vegetable oil, olive oil and orange liqueur. Using a microplane set over the bowl, finely grate the zest from both oranges into the sugar-oil mixture. Juice the oranges and measure out 1/2 cup; discard or save the excess juice for another use. Pour the 1/2 cup juice into the sugar mixture and whisk the ingredients together vigorously until they emulsify into a gel-like liquid. Pour the wet ingredients over the dry ingredients and stir until just combined.
Using a 1/2-ounce ice cream scoop or tablespoon-size measuring spoon, scoop mounds of dough and roll each into a ball. Place the turbinado sugar in a wide, shallow bowl then roll each ball in the sugar to coat. Arrange the dough balls on the prepared baking sheets, spaced evenly apart (12 to each sheet). Using the bottom of a drinking glass or measuring cup, flatten each ball into a 3/16-inch-thick disk that’s 2 inches in diameter; dip the bottom of the glass in the turbinado sugar after flattening each cookie to keep the dough from sticking to the glass.
Working with one sheet at a time, bake the cookies, rotating the sheet halfway through cooking, until just starting to brown at the edges and no longer wet on top, 12 to 14 minutes. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and let the cookies cool completely on the baking sheet. Repeat with the second baking sheet and dough to make more cookies.
To decorate, place the chocolate in a small, heatproof bowl and melt either over a pan of simmering water or in the microwave. Dip the top of each cookie in the melted chocolate, placing it back on the sheet where it came from to allow the chocolate to set before serving. If using candied orange peel to decorate the cookies, place a strip or piece in the center of each cookie immediately after it’s dipped so it sets in the chocolate.
Candied Orange Peel
Using a vegetable peeler, remove the zest from the orange in long strips. Stack a couple of strips at a time on a cutting board and thinly slice on a bias to make matchstick-thin pieces.
Bring a small saucepan of water to a boil. Add the orange zest strips and return to a boil. Drain the strips in a sieve and fill the saucepan with water again. Bring back to a boil and repeat this process of blanching the zest strips two more times.
In the saucepan, combine the sugar and 1 cup water and place over medium heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Once the syrup begins simmering, add the zest strips and continue cooking, maintaining a gentle simmer, until the strips are translucent and the syrup has thickened, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and drain the zest strips in the sieve; if you want to save the syrup, pour it into a jar and refrigerate for use in cocktails.
Let the zest strips cool for 10 minutes, then transfer to a sheet of parchment paper set on a baking sheet. Cover the strips with more granulated sugar and use your fingers to separate the strips and ensure they’re evenly coated in sugar. Spread the strips out in the sugar again, then let stand until completely dry, about 4 hours or overnight. Store the strips in the sugar in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 months.
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