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Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Orange Ambrosia Shortbread Cookies


A powdery sprinkle of snow this morning reminds me Christmas is just around the corner. It's time to start baking those wonderful goodies associated with the season.  I'm going to start off with shortbread but not just any ordinary shortbread--Orange Ambrosia Shortbread.  Ambrosia was once thought to be food for the gods. Now, doesn't that sound grand. But it's not the name that make these so good it's the taste and smell.   


Oranges just seem to say Christmas to me.  We always had an orange in the toe of our Christmas stocking and what could be more Christmasy than those delicious chocolate oranges you bang on a table to separate into sections. And then there are the Christmas Clementines, so sweet and tiny.  I hope you enjoy these cookies with the flavours of orange, coconut and maybe even chocolate.

These cookies freeze well so you may start baking them now for Christmas.  If you don't like coconut leave it out or replace with an equal amount of chopped nuts. If you don't like oranges you'd better find another cookie. ☺ 

I'm using candied orange peel in this recipe.  I found it at my local Dominion Store (Loblaws) but you may be able to find it at other grocery stores or a bulk food store as well.
 


I also used sweetened coconut.  I like a medium grind for these cookies.  If you use unsweetened coconut, increase the sugar by about ¼ cup.



Orange Ambrosia Shortbread Cookies  
½ cup sugar (use more for sweeter cookie)
½ cup candied orange peel* 
2 cups flour
½ cup coconut, fine to medium shred, sweetened or unsweetened
1 cup butter, room temperature 
1 teaspoon orange extract
(¼ teaspoon salt, if using unsalted butter)
Melted semi-sweet chocolate, optional

Whiz sugar and orange peel together in food processor or blender 
until peel is very fine but not gone to a paste.  


Mix together the flour, coconut and salt in a bowl and set aside. Cream together the butter, orange extract and sugar mixture until light and fluffy. Add the flour mixture a small amount at a time.  Finish by gently kneading together with your hands until you have a ball of dough. Do not overwork the dough. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and place in refrigerator for about half an hour. 



There are several ways you can treat this dough for baking:

1.  Turn dough onto floured surface and pat or roll out to ¼-inch thickness. Cut into shapes and place on an ungreased or parchment lined cookie sheet.  OR. . .


2.  Roll in balls and place on an ungreased or parchment lined cookie sheet.  Flatten with a fork or bottom of a drinking glass.  OR. . .



3.  Roll in balls and place on an ungreased or parchment lined cookie sheet.  Make an indentation with the end of a wooden spoon or your thumb.  When baked fill with chocolate ganache/melted chocolate.  OR. . .






4.  Roll dough in logs about 1 ½ inches in diameter.  Wrap in plastic wrap and keep chilled in refrigerator until needed.  Cut into ¼-inch slices and place on an ungreased or parchment lined cookie sheet.  



Bake cookies at 325° for approximately 15 minutes or until golden brown. Cool and store in airtight containers.

Makes about 3-4 dozen cookies. 


*If candied orange peel is not available, use the grated rind of 1 large orange and increase the sugar by ¼ cup.
 
These are wonderful just as they are or you may want to gild the lily and drizzle them with melted chocolate.  What a wonderful impressive display that will make. 


Who said chocolate was optional?  
. . . .but these are good either way.


Stay tuned for more Christmas Goodies.   

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