The distinct taste and scent of oranges has long claimed a place on my favorites list. As a boy, I couldn’t get enough of Pepperidge Farm’s Orange Milanos. I’d arrive home from school ravenous for a comfort-food fix before sitting down to a round of homework like a good Chinese child. Those orange and chocolate cookies got me through until dinner (well, supplemented by a trip or two into the kitchen to grab something else).
Now that I’m older and bake my cookies much more often than buying commercial ones, I always wanted to recreate a similar cookie that give me the same kind of satisfaction. As I’m heading home to visit my family for the holidays, the fond taste memories of Orange Milanos come back – I’m determined to update the cookie with an adult point of taste.
As I was considering various ingredients and consistencies, I came upon my beloved jar of Nutella, a chocolate hazelnut spread. It had to be a sign.
Starting with its original name Pasta Gianduja, Nutella is an Italian hazelnut and cocoa spread that’s been enjoyed by European families for decades. The name Nutella derives from the words “nut” and “ella,” which means soft ending.
The flavor profile of this cookie is related to Orange Milanos but it has an increased depth with Nutella replacing the chocolate. The crunchy cookie gives way to the creamy hazelnut-cocoa filling, a soft ending that lends a nice contrast and a luxurious feel to the overall experience.
Orange-Nutella Sandwich Cookies
yields: 15-18 cookies
3 tablespoons orange zest, freshly grated
1 cup granulated sugar
1-1/2 cups (7-1/2 ounces) all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface
3/4 cup cake flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
4 ounces (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
2 large egg yolks, room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup orange juice, freshly squeezed
Nutella Buttercream, recipe to follow
1. In a small bowl, using finger tips, combine zest with 1 tablespoon sugar; set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together both flours, baking powder, and salt; set aside.
2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter and remaining sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Beat in reserved zest-sugar mixture. Add egg yolks and vanilla, beat until combined, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Add flour mixture in two batches, alternating with orange juice, and beat to combine.
3. Turn out dough onto a piece of plastic wrap, and shape into a disk. Wrap in plastic, and refrigerate until firm, about 30 minutes.
4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside.
5. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out disk to 1/8-inch thick using a lightly floured rolling pin. Using a lightly floured 2-inch cookie cutter, cut out dough and place about 1 inch apart on prepared sheet. Bake, rotating sheet halfway through, until edges are golden, 18 to 20 minutes. Transfer sheet to a wire rack to cool 5 minutes. Transfer parchment paper and cookies to rack to cool completely.
6. Using an offset spatula, spread 1 tablespoon of buttercream onto flat sides of half the cookies. Sandwich with remaining cookies, keeping flat sides down. Once filled, cookies can be kept in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup Nutella
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 tablespoon heavy cream
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 cup (2 ounces) confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and Nutella on medium-high until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Reduce speed to medium-low, add vanilla, cream, salt and confectioners’ sugar to the mixer bowl and beat until the powdered sugar is incorporated. Increase the speed to medium and beat until the buttercream is smooth, about 1 minute.