Of all the many moments in a year, cookie season might just be the best. While I’m baking up my favorite sweets every month, cookies become so much more once the holidays hit. Suddenly, they’re an extra-special weekend baking project, a gift to drop off on neighbors’ stoops, and a delight to share with friends alongside a cup of hot chocolate. Cookies are the moment—and these Chocolate Orange Shortbread Linzer Cookies might be the tastiest treats you enjoy all season.
If you didn’t grow up with the nostalgic, foil-wrapped chocolate orange slices, then I’ll take a moment to wax poetic. The combination of bright and bitter orange against the chocolate’s sweetness is the ultimate flavor pairing. And as we were planning our holiday cookie swap and the recipes everyone would share, I knew I had to pay homage to my chocolate orange memories. These cookies are delicious, easier than they look, and wildly impressive to everyone you’ll share them with.
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What is a linzer cookie?
Linzer cookies are the ultimate sandwich cookie. They’re a traditional Austrian recipe adapted into a sandwich cookie that is lightly spiced and filled with jam. And while mine are a far cry from tradition, the formula is the same. A crumbly shortbread, a filling, and a generous dusting of powdered sugar.
My cookies lean on the buttery side of shortbread and are speckled with orange zest to add an extra burst of flavor. The filling is a simple but indulgent chocolate ganache and everything gets finished with a little sugar on top. If you prefer, you can nix the ganache and use jam instead, or even an orange curd if you wanted to lean all the way into the orange flavor.
Tips for Making Shortbread Linzer Cookies
Making a butter-heavy sandwich cookie can be intimidating. You want each cookie to be the same size—heaven forbid they spread in the oven! But don’t worry, I’ve learned some tricks to make this step extra easy. Hint: The fridge will be your best friend.
This dough starts off pretty soft. To cut into sandwich cookies, place the batter on a sheet of parchment paper and top with another sheet of parchment paper. With your dough between the two sheets, roll it out with a rolling pin to the desired thickness. Not only does this help keep the batter from sticking to the pin or the counter, but it also minimizes clean up. Then, you’ll place the flattened dough into the fridge for about thirty minutes or so until it’s completely solid. To bake, remove the solid dough and cut out shapes while the dough is still firm. Bake immediately.
The firm dough is easier to cut, and this method keeps the cookies from spreading in the oven. They maintain their pretty shapes and create the perfect cookie sandwich.
How do I make chocolate ganache?
I’m a fan of shortcuts in the kitchen. For the ganache, I heat up milk or cream in the microwave in 15-second increments. Then, I pour over a bowl of chopped chocolate, letting it sit until the chocolate is melted. Stir together until smooth and thick.
If your ganache is too thin, add more chopped chocolate to thicken or let set in the fridge. If it’s too thick, add heated milk or cream a little at a time. Worst-case scenario, I’ll just spread over melted chocolate and call it a day. Trust that these shortbread linzer cookies will be delicious either way.
For even more flavor, I add a little orange zest or a splash of Grand Marnier to tie the bright, citrusy bite together.
Other Holiday Recipes to Bring to Your Cookie Swap
While I’ll be bringing these shortbread linzer cookies to my holiday cookie swaps, I keep a handful of other cookies in my arsenal for all the gatherings this season.
These chocolate peppermint snowball cookies are a chocolate lover’s dream.
My slice-and-bake cookies with cranberries, pistachios, and white chocolate are a crowd-favorite.
I’ve made these gingery molasses cookies for the last two years and they’re always a hit.
And if none of those satisfy your craving for sweetness, get our free Holiday Cookie Guide that includes a collection of 10 recipes from our favorite food bloggers and recipe developers.
Scroll on for the recipe, and if you make these Chocolate Orange Shortbread Linzer Cookies, be sure to leave a rating and review, and tag us on Instagram so we can see yours.