Chocolate Bark with Candied Orange, Crystallized Ginger and Pistachios.

I should know better. When I write of things I’ve baked — especially of things amply endowed with dark chocolate — and not provide a recipe right there and then, I hear from you.

As it was, last weekend, I wrote a story about Christmas cookies with recipes from pastry chefs around Vancouver. I mentioned my own lineup for an annual cookie giveaway, which prompted requests for some of the recipes. As well, friends sent emails, like survival flares streaking through cyberspace. “Help! Need cookies!” And I know there are others waiting in the shadows for cookie alms, knowing exactly what cookies ought to come their way.

Don’t get your knickers in a knot, people. You’ll get your cookies, and for those who wanted some of the recipes, I include them here.

Every year, I try to add a new recipe or two, or three. So this year, I inaugurated chocolate bark with the addition of, yum, candied orange. I made a shortbread with orange rind, dipped in chocolate (hmmm, is there a theme here?) and the third newbie was a kind of Linzer cookie, with ground hazelnut in the dough and Nutella as a filling.

The other two cookies, I’ve made before, Florentines and dulce de leche macaroons (just because a certain someone in my household requested them).

Anyway, with this, I believe I have done my part in sending many people into sugar highs over the holidays.

Chocolate Bark with Candied Orange, Crystallized Ginger and Pistachios

I usually make chocolate bark with a layer of white and dark chocolate and studded with crushed peppermint candy. This year, I changed it up with this dark chocolate bark adapted from a Canadian Living recipe that called for cranberries; I left them out and increased the pistachios and candied oranges. Then I felt disobedient about the cranberries and threw in a few currants. I actually made a lot of extra candied orange to use for other baking. Nice to nibble on while doing yoga in front of the TV, which I do. (Bad!)

Candied Orange

1 orange

2 1/2 cups (625 mL) granulated sugar

Cut the orange in half from stem to blossom end. Place, cut side down, on work surface; cut crosswise into 1/4-inch (5 mm) thick half-moons.

In a saucepan, cover orange slices with cold water and bring to a gentle boil; immediately drain, discarding water. With fresh water, repeat boiling and draining, twice.

In a saucepan, stir 2 cups of the sugar with 2 cups water over medium heat until sugar is dissolved. Add orange slices; reduce heat to low and simmer for 45 minutes.

Using slotted spoon, transfer slices to rack over baking sheet; let dry for 12 hours or for up to 24 hours. Dredge slices in remaining sugar, pressing to coat. Cut each slice into 3 triangles or into smaller pieces if you wish.

Chocolate Bark

1 1/2 lb (680 g) bittersweet chocolate, chopped

1 cup (150 mL) pistachio nuts, coarsely chopped

1/3 cup (75 mL) crystallized ginger

In a heatproof bowl over saucepan of hot (not boiling) water, melt the chocolate. Mix together pistachios, and ginger; stir half into the chocolate. Scrape into 13- x 9-inch (3.5 L) parchment paper — lined cake pan, smoothing top. Sprinkle evenly with remaining mixture.

Arrange 18 candied orange pieces on top. Refrigerate until firm, about 45 minutes. Cut into chunks. (Make-ahead: Refrigerate in airtight container for up to 2 days.)

Makes about 18 medium pieces or more if cut smaller.

Nutella Shortbread Sandwiches

I’m not a huge fan of Nutella (too processed) but I wanted to change up the Linzer cookies I sometimes make with homemade jam. Mixed with the nutty shortbread, I actually like the Nutella presence. This is an Ina Gartner (Barefoot Contessa) recipe.

1/2 cup (125 mL) whole hazelnuts

¾ lb (340 g) unsalted butter, room temperature

1 cup (250 mL) granulated sugar

2 tsp (10 mL) vanilla extract

3 ½ cups (875 mL) all-purpose flour

Pinch kosher salt

¾ cup (185 mL) Nutella

Preheat oven to 350 F. Place the hazelnuts on sheet pan and roast for 10 minutes, then allow to cool. Place nuts in food processor with steel blade until finely ground.

In stand mixer, beat butter and sugar until just combined. Mix the vanilla extract and two teaspoons of water. Sift together the flour and salt and add it to the butter mixture on low speed. Stir in the ground hazelnuts. Wrap the dough in plastic and chill for at least an hour.

Roll chilled dough to ¼ inch (6 mm) thick. Cut 36 (2 ¾ in/7 cm) rounds with cutter. Use a ¾-inch (2 cm) cutter to cut a small circle from the middle of half the cookies. Place all the cookies on parchment-lined paper and chill for 15 minutes.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, rotating once, until the edges of the cookies begin to brown. Cool to room temperature.

Once cooled, spread Nutella on the whole circles. Sprinkle icing sugar on the cut-out circles and sandwich the top and bottom together.

Makes about 18 cookies.

Chocolate Dipped Orange Shortbread

Get fancy and creative with all your cookie-making at Christmas but don’t leave out the shortbread. I like mine just a little zooted up and this one is perked up with orange rind and what’s a better match with orange than chocolate? The recipe is from Canadian Living.

1 cup (250 mL) unsalted butter, room temperature

½ cup (125 ml) superfine sugar

2 tsp (10 mL) finely grated orange rind

¼ (1 mL) tsp salt

2 cups (500 mL) all-purpose flour

3 tbsp (45 mL) cornstarch

3 ½ oz (100 g) bittersweet chocolate, chopped

In large bowl, beat together butter, sugar, orange rind and salt until fluffy. Stir in flour and cornstarch to make a smooth dough.

Divide dough in half. Form each into a 10-inch (25 cm) log. Wrap each and refrigerate for 1 hour.

Slice logs into ¼-inch (6 mm) thick rounds. Place, 1 inch (2.5 cm) apart, on parchment-lined baking sheets. Bake in 325 F oven until firm, about 15 minutes. Let cool on pans for 5 minutes; transfer to racks and let cool completely.

Coating: In heatproof bowl over sauce of hot (not boiling) water, melt chocolate; let cool to room temperature.

Dip half of each cookie into chocolate, shaking off excess. Refrigerate on waxed paper-lined baking sheets until firm, about 30 minutes.

Makes about 60 cookies.

By Mia Stainsby, Postmedia News

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