Have I introduced you to one of my new favourite cookies ever in the whole wide world? No? Well, here’s your chance to meet. These amazing chocolate chip cookies have three kinds of chocolate inside, PLUS essence of orange, PLUS sea salt. If you’ve been eating a lot of chocolate desserts (or just really good chocolate in general), you probably know by now that something that elevates good chocolate things to great is this little thing called sea salt. Just like with caramel, sea salt seems to bring out in chocolate as well a boldness of flavour. And of course, the orange-chocolate combination has been around for a long time. Long enough to fall a step towards being called a classic, in my opinion.
These cookies are so good, my friends. SO CRAZY GOOD. I’m not even exaggerating here!
But before I get ahead of myself with these Orange Chocolate Chip Cookies, I thought I’d give a shout-out to the lovely people who sent me the chocolates that figured so well in these cookies. Some weeks ago, Villa Del Conte sent me their premium artisanal baking chocolate bars to try. (Thank you so much!) One is their milk chocolate, and the other is a semisweet 50% dark chocolate. Both bars come in 500-gram packages with their signature orange sticker on top.
These handcrafted chocolates hail from its namesake, idyllic rural Villa Del Conte in Padova, Italy (or Padua I suppose it’s better known as); where the recipe has been passed on from father to son for 75 long years.
Here’s a shot of the milk chocolate bar. Just look at how beautiful it is! I apologise if ogling chocolates sounds a little weird, but it’s exactly what I did when I opened these babies up. For someone like me who isn’t a milk chocolate lover, I thought the quality of this milk chocolate was excellent. Smooth and creamy, and not cloyingly sweet.
Believe me when I say I’m not one to compliment a milk chocolate bar.
Now my cardinal rule when it comes to using any kind of chocolate in baking is to always use the brand that I personally like to eat. These did pass my taste exam, but I still wanted to take these chocolates out for a test drive just to see how they would fare once I actually baked them into something. After all, Villa Del Conte promises that these chocolates will produce only the most luscious cakes, cookies, and pastries. I wanted to see how accurate this claim was.
The cookies I chose to make are a triple chocolate affair. There’s milk, semisweet, AND bittersweet incorporated into them, so clearly the chocolates play a huge role in the outcome of these cookies. For the bittersweet, I used another brand which has been my favourite for a while. But for the milk and semisweet, I chopped up some of the Villa Del Conte chocolates I was sent. My expectations were pretty darn high, I must admit.
And in case it wasn’t clear enough in my opening statement how much I love these. Hot damn. I REALLY FREAKING LOVE THESE COOKIES.
There are a million things that go well with chocolate, and in my opinion orange is one of them. I’ve been meaning to make some version of orange chocolate chip cookies, but it wasn’t until recently that I came across a recipe that made me go, THIS IS IT! THIS IS THE ONE! Quite frankly I always look for that feeling when I’m picking recipes to try out these days. There are just too many recipes and too little time! Do you ever get that feeling? Every time I complete a recipe I tuck the print-outs away in two separate folders: one labelled ‘completed recipes’, the other ‘to-repeat recipes’. Guess where this one goes– Into the latter, and much thinner folder.
Like I said, too many recipes, too little time! But I’d make these cookies every week if I could. It’s easier than my other favourite cookies from Bouchon, and equally as delicious.
Also, I’ve been wanting to shoot something with peeled oranges. I think they’re super pretty. It’s such a random thing, I know! But at least I got my wish! 😀
So these cookies! They smell so amazing thanks to the orange zest which you add into the butter as you cream it with the sugar. That’s a very important step in my opinion, because you really get to infuse the orange into the very building blocks of your cookies. I don’t know if you can see the threads of orange zest in the photo below, but it’s there, and I can almost smell it through the screen.
The butter will start smelling amazing after the initial blitz, and then again once you add the orange extract. A note on the extract: If you can get your hands on real legitimate orange extract, and not just some artificial flavouring, I recommend that you go for it for authenticity’s sake.
Since I really urge everyone to make these cookies, I just wanted to say that you guys shouldn’t let a lack of a mixer keep you from doing so! You can totally make this by hand, but it will take a bit of muscle especially at the beginning, when you cream the butter and sugar together. After that it’s fairly easy.
After that you dump in the flour and give it a mix before adding the beautiful Villa Del Conte chopped chocolates. I like my chocolate super chunky in cookies so I didn’t chop them up too small. I didn’t do it so evenly either because I want some pieces to be bigger, kind of like a surprise when you bite into the cookies. I don’t know if you’ll notice the different shades of chocolate in that bowl. The lighter ones are the milk chocolate chunks while the dark ones are a mix of semisweet and bittersweet.
Now the next step, which has become another important one for me after having made a ton of chocolate chip cookies, is refrigerating the cookie batter. For this recipe, you roll the cookies into balls before putting them in the fridge for an hour. You can also leave them in the fridge overnight. Just make sure you cover them up well with cling wrap so they don’t absorb any smells from inside the fridge. You’re going to want to top them with sea salt right before baking the cookie balls. If you do it beforehand, the salt might melt into the dough as they sit in the fridge. You want cookies with a burst of explosive crunchy saltiness here and there, not a generally salty cookie!
I’m a firm believer of refrigerating chocolate chip cookie dough before baking. The refrigeration time helps the flour to absorb more of the liquid in the dough, resulting in cookies that are shiny and sturdy outside but gloriously chewy inside. The flavour I find is more intense too. If you’re impatient, you don’t have to go all the way to 24 hour refrigeration. An hour will produce really great cookies nonetheless. (I CAN ASSURE YOU! Because I am also quite impatient with these things.) Just make sure to refrigerate AT LEAST an hour. Refrigerated cookie dough always bakes into better-looking and better-tasting cookies, if I do say so myself.
This recipe makes quite a few cookies, but at the rate they disappeared from the cookie box– and I promise you they will!– I almost forgot these had a yield of 24 cookies. My brothers sure work fast! And I’m not entirely innocent either! 😉
Makes about 2 dozen cookies
- 2 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ¾ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
- 1 cup packed light-brown sugar
- ¾ cup granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon orange zest
- 2 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¾ teaspoon orange extract
- 115 grams (4 ounces) bittersweet 72% chocolate, chopped into chunks
- 115 grams (4 ounces) semi-sweet 50% chocolate, chopped into chunks
- 115 grams (4 ounces) milk chocolate, chopped into chunks
- Flaky or coarse sea salt
- 1. In a mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt for 30 seconds. Set aside.
- 2. In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter, brown sugar, granulated sugar, and orange zest on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
- 3. Add the first egg and mix until well-combined. Add the second egg, vanilla extract, and orange extract. Mix until well-combined.
- 4. Using a spatula, mix in the flour just until combined. (You can also do this using a mixer at low speed, slowly adding the flour until just combined.) Stir in chocolate chunks.
- 5. Shape dough into large balls using an ice cream scoop, about 2-1/2 to 3 Tablespoons each or around 58 grams per ball. Transfer balls to plates, cover with plastic wrap and chill at least 1 hour, or overnight.
- 6. During last 10 minutes of chilling, preheat oven to 350°F (180°C).
- 7. Transfer 6 to 8 chilled cookie dough balls to parchment-lined baking sheets and sprinkle tops lightly with sea salt. (Make sure to keep dough balls that aren't currently baking in refrigerator.)
- 8. Bake cookies one sheet at a time about 11 to 12 minutes, or until golden around the edges and cookies are set. Allow to cool on baking sheet several minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool. Repeat with remaining balls of dough.
- Storage: Keep cookies in an airtight container once completely cooled.
To get your own Villa Del Conte chocolate bars, visit any of their stores at Greenbelt 5, Century City Mall, Shangri-la Mall, Resorts World, Alabang Town Center, and Robinson’s Magnolia. You can also visit their website or Facebook page to know more! 🙂
Full disclosure: I was sent samples of Villa Del Conte chocolates, but all opinions stated above are my very own.