Sheryl Aronow's Orange Cardamom Shortbread Sweet-Hearts
2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp. salt
Zest of 2 oranges
1 1/2 tsp. ground cardamom
8 oz. bittersweet chocolate
2 tsp. vegetable shortening
Plastic lollipop sticks from craft store
1. In a medium-sized plastic bowl, add flour, salt and ground cardamom. Use a silicone plastic whisk to incorporate all the ingredients and set this bowl aside.
2. Slice the butter into 1″ pieces and let it sit out until room temperature. Do not microwave. Using the paddle attachment on the electric mixer, beat the butter until creamy, scraping down the sides with a silicone plastic spatula as needed.
3. Add the sugar to the butter, beating for several minutes to incorporate. Then add the vanilla and continue to beat a minute longer. With the mixer on low-medium speed, add the orange zest.
4. With the mixer on the lowest speed, add the flour mixture just until incorporated and a dough begins to form.
5. Take the dough out of the mixer bowl and press dough into a rectangular shape on a non-stick cookie sheet. Flatten out the rectangle with a non-stick rolling-pin and then wrap in plastic wrap for at least 2 hours or overnight.
6. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F.
7. When dough is chilled, roll out dough turning the dough 1/4 turn to achieve consistent thickness of the dough. Using an easy-to-clean plastic cookie cutter, cut heart shapes. Cookies should be on the thicker side so that the sticks can be inserted into cookie.
8. Gently maneuver the sticks into the cookies. If the stick pops through in the back, patch with a piece of scrap dough. Chill cookies on a non-stick silicone baking mat for 20 minutes
9. Place cookies on a cookie sheet and bake cookies 9-11 minutes, or until edges turn lightly brown.
10. Remove cookies from oven with a plastic silicone quilted oven mitt and let cookies cool on sheets for 10 minutes, then place cookies on cooling rack.
11. When cookies are completely cooled, gently melt chocolate over a double boiler, or in the microwave. Add the vegetable shortening and stir until dissolved.
12. Dip cookies half way into melted chocolate and then place cookies on non-stick baking mats until chocolate is set.
13. Use a plastic dessert decorating pen to add designs to your cookies or add chopped nuts, sprinkles of other garnishes while chocolate is still wet.