Friday, April 18, 2014

Orange Pecan Chocolate Chip Cookies



I've been working on these cookies for about a month. For real. To say this was a challenge is an understatement. My director Ann gets a similar cookie from Otter Creek Bakery in Middlebury, VT. She and a friend adore these cookies and have been searching for a make at home version to no avail. So she shared a sample and wondered if I might be able to come up with a recipe. Challenge accepted and conquered. Well, conquered after 5 rounds of recipe adjustments. What can I say, I was determined. While my interpretation has a slightly lighter coloring and a bit of a flatter look, from the sample I had and Ann's feedback, these are pretty spot on in flavor and texture. And the list of goodies is endless: browned butter, chocolate chips, pecans, oatmeal, orange flavoring and all topped off with a candied orange slice. The resulting cookie is hearty with perfect sweetness and nuttiness, a hint of chocolate, vague caramel-like nut flavor from the brown butter and subtle orange flavor that your not sure is in the cookie or wafting from the garnish. No wonder Ann wanted to make these at home--you just can live without them!

I had a little help from the internet in putting these together. When I first tasted it, my instinct was something like my hotel cookies I like so much, but with an orange flavor. And the coloring led me to dark brown sugar. But there was also something else in that flavor that made me think of brown butter. After a little googling for orange and chocolate combo cookies, I came across this recipe from Elise at Simply Recipes. I knew it would be a good start, but would require some adjustments. I was sold on the brown butter (which I had to learn how to do from Elise via this tutorial), loved the idea of zesting the orange into the white sugar to infuse it with extra flavor, and the method seemed to make sense. I swapped some vanilla for fiori di sicilia, added a bit of orange juice because the first time I though the texture was a bit dry. After omitting a bit of the oats and all of the raisins and adding the candied orange garnish, I made big portions and baked them to the perfect consistency of firm but not crunchy edges and chewy insides. Challenging? Yes. But now that I've nailed it, I'm thrilled to have this fancy chocolate chip cookie in my repertoire.

Orange Pecan Chocolate Chip Cookies


Ingredients

1 3/4 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup butter, divided
1/2 cup sugar
1 orange
1 cup dark brown sugar, packed
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon fiori di sicilia
1 egg
1 egg yolk
2 cups oats
2/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup pecans, chopped
16-20 candied orange slices

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda and cinnamon. Then set aside.




Place sugar in a small bowl, then add the zest of the orange and whisk to combine. Juice the orange and set aside.



To brown butter, preheat a medium saucepan (preferably with a light-colored bottom) over medium heat. Add 10 Tablespoons of butter to melt. Stir or whisk occasionally until melted, then continue to cook until it foams and the color begins to turn to a light brown. Cook until it has a nutty fragrance but not dark. If the butter turns black, start over or save for another use. Remove from heat to stop cooking.






Place remaining butter, cut up, into the bowl of a stand mixer or a large bowl. Pour browned butter over solid butter and stir until everything is melted.




Add orange infused sugar, brown sugar, 2 Tablespoons reserved orange juice, salt, vanilla and fiori di sicilia. Whisk to incorporate.


Whisk in egg then egg yolk. Continue whisking for 30 seconds, then let sit for 3 minutes. Whisk again for 30 seconds and rest for 3 minutes, and then whisk a third time for 30 seconds and rest for 3 additional minutes. The batter will thicken and become shiny at this point--do not skip these steps.



Using a paddle attachment on the stand mixer or a large spatula, gradually stir in flour mixture until incorporated.


Stir in oats, chocolate chips and pecans to distribute throughout.


Drop by 1/4 cup balls (I used a small ice cream scoop) onto parchment or Silpat lined baking sheets, about 6 to a pan since these cookies will spread.


Flatten slightly with the palm of your hand, then top with a candied orange slice.



Bake in an oven preheated to 375 degrees F for 12-15 minutes, rotating 180 degrees halfway though. If using more than one pan, rotate positions in the oven at halfway mark.


Remove from oven and let cool on pan for 2-5 minutes before transferring to wire racks to cool completely.


Store in an airtight container or freeze until serving.

Makes 16-20 cookies.

Happy Baking,
The Cookie Princess

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