After all the holiday sugar overload I’ve been looking for something with a less sweet taste and a more complex flavor. I think I’ve found it in these Chocolate Cardamom Orange Shortbread Cookies.

Shortbread is a traditional style crumbly textured, buttery flavored cookie that pairs well with the un-traditional additions of cocoa powder, some fresh orange zest and a few teaspoons of ground cardomom spice.

Cardamom is frequently used in Indian and Scandinavian cooking and has an intense flavor that may not appeal to everyone. But I really like the flavor of cardomom and used 2 teaspoons in these cookies, but it would be perfectly acceptable to dial it down and use 1/4 teaspoon to get just a hint of cardamom flavor. A teaspoon of instant espresso powder help to bring out the cocoa powder and rounds out the overall flavor profile.

The cookie bakes up a lovely light brown color from the cocoa and espresso powders and is nicely crumbly with a slight buttery flavor mixed with the orange and spice. These cookies are good on their own but you can always gild the lily and sandwich two cookies around some Nutella Chocolate Hazelnut Spread…

Here is how you can make your own:


Chocolate Orange Cardamom Shortbread- makes approx. 20 cookies

  • 3 sticks butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons cocoa powder
  • Zest of one orange
  • 1/4 to 2 teaspoons ground cardamom
  • 1 teaspoon instant espresso powder
  • raw washed sugar for decoration (optional)

Line a baking sheet with parchment or Silpat and set aside. In a medium sized bowl sift together the flour, salt, cocoa powder, cardamom and espresso powder. Sifting will ensure that there are no lumps of cocoa powder in the finished dough. Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment cream together the butter and sugar until fluffy. Add the orange zest and vanilla extract, mix until combined.

Add the flour mixture and mix until the dough starts to come together. Remove dough from bowl and shape into a disk.

Place disk between two sheet of parchment paper and roll dough out to around to around 1/2″ thick. Place rolled dough in refrigerator or freezer until very firm.

Using a 3″ round or fluted cookie cutter, cut out rounds from dough and place in fridge or freezer. Continue to cut out rounds, re-rolling dough as needed.

When all rounds are cut, let chill in freezer until very firm-around 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 350.

After dough has chilled, place rounds on prepared baking sheet around 1 1/2 inches apart. If the dough is well chilled it won’t spread very much.

Sprinkle the tops of the dough with some raw washed sugar for extra sparkle and crunch. Bake for 17-20 minutes or until slightly brown on edges. Allow to cool to room temperature before storing.

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