Chocolate Orange Chewy Sugar Cookies / by Chelsea Zwieg

I know I talk about the weather a lot, but how do you live in a place that is currently -20 and not talk about the weather! I also just really like talking about weather, so get used to it. But I can sum up all my weather talk in one word today: COLD. My windows are so cold they have solid sheets of ice on them. My wiper fluid in my car is so cold that it froze and I have a perpetually dirty windshield. And my hands are so cold that after I was done baking these cookies, I left the oven on and open and just stood there warming my hands for what felt like not nearly enough time. And tomorrow.....10 inches of snow. I love winter more than anyone, but woah. Simmer down, Wisconsin. I'm not complaining though, because this very freezing day also happened to be my day off so it was spent inside baking, eating cookies and sitting under a blanket and watching Christmas episodes of The Office. With one brave venture out into the cold to get Starbucks. Always worth it. But the most important part to come out of today: these cookies. ohmygoodness.

I have found that the best kind of sugar cookie always has cream cheese or sour cream. So when I saw a recipe for chewy cream cheese sugar cookies I was all over it. The original recipe from this cookbook (my new obsession) was a raspberry dough swirled with a chocolate dough. Believe me, I will be trying that as soon as it's not the middle of winter and one precious flavorless raspberry doesn't cost me a day's wages. But for now, it's chocolate and orange all the way. The orange dough is flavored with orange zest and vanilla but if you want a more powerful orange flavor you can always add orange extract as well. I like it a little milder. The chocolate dough is super dark, rich and chocolatey like any good cookie should be. Before they get baked they get a roll in orange sugar which transforms into the most addicting, crackly exterior to a perfectly soft, chewy interior.

If you are on the fence with the whole chocolate orange craze that happens this time of year, make these. They are the chocolate-orange gateway drug. I am not always crazy about all things chocolate orange either (like those foil wrapped chocolate oranges? just, why??) but I absolutely could not stop eating these. 

Chocolate Orange Chewy Cookies

Adapted from Marbled, Swirled and Layered

For the Orange dough: 

  • 6 tbsp. butter, room temp
  • 2 oz. cream cheese, room temp
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tbsp. orange zest
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 3/4 cup flour

For the Chocolate dough: 

  • 6 tbsp. butter, room temp
  • 2 oz. cream cheese, room temp
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 2 1/4 cup flour

Assembly: 

  • 1/2 cup sugar + 1 tbsp. orange zest, for sprinkling 

| Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
  • In the bowl of stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, cream cheese and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Scrape the bowl and add the egg and egg yolk. Mix well and scrape the bowl. Add the orange zest and vanilla and mix to combine. Add the baking powder, baking soda, salt and flour and mix until the dough is just combined. Scrape the dough out into a separate bowl and return the bowl to the stand mixer. Since both doughs are going into the same cookies there's no need to wash the bowl. A little orange dough in the chocolate dough never hurt anyone. 
  • To make the chocolate dough, cream the butter, cream cheese and both sugars until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Scrape the bowl and add the egg, egg yolk and vanilla. Mix well. Add the baking powder, baking soda, salt, cocoa powder and flour. Mix until combined. 
  • To assemble the cookies, roll two 1/2 tsp. bits of orange dough into balls and do the same with the chocolate dough. Arrange the 4 balls into a square so that the two balls of same-colored dough are across from each other, not next to each other. Squish the 4 balls together and roll into a smooth ball. The final ball should be a marbled combo of the two. Repeat with the remaining dough. If you lose patience in rolling 4 balls per cookie, you can also just squish 4 blobs of unrolled dough in the same alternating pattern. It will still be marbled, just not as distinct. 
  • In a small bowl, combine 1/2 cup sugar and 1 tbsp. orange zest. Rub the zest into the sugar with your fingertips. Roll the dough balls in the sugar before placing on the prepared baking sheets. Bake 12-15 minutes, until the tops just crack. Don't wait for them to turn golden or they will be overbaked. As soon as your have some nice cracks they are ready to come out. After a couple minutes, transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling.