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Italian Chocolate Orange Cookies with Orange Icing

Beautiful Italian chocolate orange cookies with a glorious orange icing and orange zest infused into the dough. These tender, chewy chocolate cookies are simple to make and stay soft for days. If you love the combination of chocolate & orange, then this cookie is for you!

Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
10 mins
Total Time
25 mins

I’ve been in love with all things orange for quite some time. In fact, when I was younger I used to live for those mini orange muffins from the grocery store. So sweet, full of citrus flavor and studded with beautiful zest. Pop one. Pop two. Pop seven and you’re still never satisfied. They’re just that good.

Throughout my pregnancy, I’ve continued on my little orange obsession. Remember those dreamy orange chocolate chip muffins? Wait, what about this beautiful paleo orange-kissed loaf? Or how about the soft orange cookies I made last year?

Safe to say, these days I crave just about anything that’s orange. I’ve even resorted to putting sweet orange essential oil in all of my natural cleaning products and diffuser on a daily basis.

CALL ME THE ORANGE QUEEN. Or don’t. Idk.

chocolate orange cookies in a stack

Today’s officially marks day 3 of our annual #AKCookieWeek and I couldn’t be more excited about these Italian chocolate orange cookies. They just so happen to be inspired by three things:

  1. My love for Italian knot cookies during the holiday season. They’re just so soft and pillowy! Have you had them?!
  2. My husband’s big Italian family who throw an amazing Christmas party every year where everyone must bring cookies.
  3. My ridiculous obsession with all things orange. Okay, and chocolate.

chocolate orange cookie dough on a baking sheet before baking

What are Italian knot cookies?

Italian knot cookies are a type of cookie that is similar to a cross between a cake and a cookie. They’re soft, pillowy, often citrus-flavored and not overly sweet.

Most Italian knot cookies are known by different names including, but not limited to: knot cookies, lemon or orange knots, love knots, anginetti, and more! Some of these Italian cookies will often use cream cheese or ricotta in the dough to keep it soft, but I like to keep mine nice and simple without it.

A key difference in baking ingredients is that most Italian cookies will use baking powder instead of baking soda to create an almost cake-like texture, which is quite frankly…. really, really addicting.

chocolate orange cookies with orange icing on a baking rack

Ingredients in chocolate orange cookies

These chocolate orange cookies are super easy to make and only require a few ingredients:

  • Butter
  • Sugar
  • Orange zest + orange juice
  • Egg
  • Vanilla
  • All purpose flour
  • Good-quality unsweetened cocoa powder
  • Baking powder
  • Salt

As usual, I’ve included a few options in the recipe to jazz up these chocolate orange cookies for the holiday season. You can feel free to add chopped walnuts, cinnamon and/or allspice to the dough. So yummy and festive!

Also, let’s not forget about the ridiculous good orange glaze. You’re going to want to put it on EVERYTHING and anything.

chocolate orange cookies stacked with a bite taken out

How to freeze cookie dough for later

Freezing cookie dough is wonderful because it allows for portion control or simply for prepping ahead when you have guests or are throwing a party. I LOVE freezing extra cookie dough because that way I can pop them in the oven whenever I want and it’s great when you want to bring something to a party or to a loved one’s house, but don’t feel like having a baking extravaganza. Here’s how to do it.

  1. Roll the cookie dough into balls and place them on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Chill the dough in the freezer for 30 minutes. This is known as a flash freeze.
  2. Once the cookie dough balls firm up, you can transfer them to a reusable freezer-safe bag or container. Cookie dough will keep well for up to 3 months.
  3. When ready to bake, simply bake cookies as directed in the recipe. For these cookies, I suggest letting the dough thaw at room temperature while you preheat the oven so that you can slightly flatten the cookies as directed.

How to freeze baked cookies for later

If you want to freeze the already baked cookies for later, simply wait for them to cool completely, then transfer them to a reusable freezer-safe bag or container lined with wax or parchment paper. I like to place them in a single layer to avoid any cookies breaking. Cookies will keep well for up to 2 months. Once ready to eat, simply thaw out at room temperature and enjoy. You can freeze with or without the icing.

chocolate orange cookies on a wire rack with one bite taken out of a cookie

#AKCookieWeek Giveaway Details:

We’ll be selecting one lucky person to win a 5-Quart KitchenAid Stand Mixer (in color of choice) at the end of #AKCookieWeek. To enter:

  1. Share any of your Ambitious Kitchen cookie recipe creations by posting a photo to Instagram or in our private AK Facebook group with the hashtag #AKCookieWeek. On Instagram your profile must be public and you must post a photo in your feed (not on stories) in order for the entry to count.
  2. The more you share, the great your chance of winning!
  3. 18+ USA only.

Winner will be randomly selected on 12/12 and contacted via Instagram or Facebook.

I hope you love these chocolate orange cookies! If you make them, I’d love to hear from you — feel free to leave a comment below and rate the recipe. I appreciate it! xo.

Italian Chocolate Orange Cookies with Orange Icing

4.5 from 2 votes
Course Cookie, Cookies, Dessert, Nut Free
Keyword chocolate orange cookies, italian chocolate orange cookies, italian cookies
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Serves 14

Beautiful Italian chocolate orange cookies with a glorious orange icing and orange zest infused into the dough. These tender, chewy chocolate cookies are simple to make and stay soft for days. If you love the combination of chocolate & orange, then this cookie is for you!

Ingredients

  • Wet ingredients:
  • 6 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • Zest from 1 medium orange
  • 1 egg, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Dry ingredients:
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • ¼ cup good-quality unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • Optional to add into the dough:
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice
  • For the icing:
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon fresh orange juice
  • 1 teaspoon orange zest
  • 1 tablespoon melted butter
  • 1 tablespoon softened cream cheese

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream together the butter, sugar and orange zest for 1 minute until well combined. Turn mixer to medium-low speed and add in egg (make sure it’s at room temp -- you can do this by running the egg under warm water for 1 min); beating until well combined. Next beat in the vanilla extract.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and mix together on medium-low speed until just combined.

  4. Use hands to grab one heaping tablespoon full of dough and roll into a ball. Place on baking sheet about 2 inches apart. Slightly flatten cookies with the palm of your hand so they are about ¼ inch thick. (If you like very fat, puffy cookies, no need to flatten them at all.) Bake for 10-13 minutes until just barely golden brown on the edges.

  5. Remove and allow to cool on baking sheet for a few minutes before transferring to a wire rack to finish cooling completely. Repeat with remaining dough.
  6. To make the icing: Once cookies have cooled, make the icing: add the powdered sugar, orange juice, zest, melted butter and softened cream cheese to a bowl. A drop of almond extract is also delicious in the icing, but please only do one drop if you'd like. Spoon the icing onto the cookies or you can dip of the top of the cookies in the icing then place back on the wire rack to allow icing to harden. Garnish with a little extra orange zest to make them pretty. Makes about 14 cookies.

Recipe Notes

How to freeze cookie dough for later:

  1. Roll the cookie dough into balls and place them on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Chill the dough in the freezer for 30 minutes. This is known as a flash freeze.
  2. Once the cookie dough balls firm up, you can transfer them to a reusable freezer-safe bag or container. Cookie dough will keep well for up to 3 months.
  3. When ready to bake, simply bake cookies as directed in the recipe. For these cookies, I suggest letting the dough thaw at room temperature while you preheat the oven so that you can slightly flatten the cookies as directed.
Nutrition
Servings: 14 cookies
Serving size: 1 cookie
Calories: 152kcal
Fat: 6.6g
Saturated fat: 4g
Carbohydrates: 22.5g
Fiber: 1g
Sugar: 12g
Protein: 2.2g

Recipe by: Monique Volz // Ambitious Kitchen | Photography by: Eat Love Eats

What to do with your extra orange peel after making these cookies

If you’re looking for something to do with your orange peels, I highly suggest the following:

  1. add 3 cups water, orange peels, and 1 tablespoon whole cloves to a medium pot and place over medium low heat.
  2. Bring to a simmer but not a boil.
  3. Add more water as necessary (it will evaporate) and allow the orange and clove aroma to fill your home. Trust me, you’re going to love how cozy it smells, especially during the holiday season.
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stack of chocolate orange cookies

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