Cocoa Ribbon Cookies

published Nov 25, 2023
Holiday Cookies 2023
Cocoa Ribbon Cookies Recipe

Keep a log of these chocolate-orange-flavored cookies in your freezer to bake at a moment’s notice.

Makes15 (2-inch) cookies

Prep45 minutes

Cook15 minutes

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Overview of striped icebox cookies with the corner dipped in chocolate, scattered on a white surface.
Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe ; Food Stylist: Jason Schreiber

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If I were to pinpoint a single flavor that characterizes the cozy winter season, it would undoubtedly be the orange. The sensory journey of opening a ripe, fragrant orange serves as the inspiration for these buttery cookies that are perfect for any festive occasion. This recipe for cocoa ribbon cookies is an ode to the season’s abundance.

My goal for this cookie was to capture that memorable feeling and aroma in each bite, from the burst of citrus oil perfuming your kitchen as you zest the oranges, to the silky orange oils that get stuck to your fingertips as you’re rubbing the zest and sugar together, to the citrusy scent that floods every corner of your room as these chocolate-laced cookies bake in the oven.  

The chocolate-orange flavor pairing is a classic for a reason. While the orange is bright and zesty, the rich cocoa and the melted chocolate in the cookie brings so much depth and flavor contrast to the final cookie. With Hanukkah on my mind, I snuck in some extra-virgin olive oil to highlight the cookie’s citrus notes while also providing a tender crumbliness. Coated in melted chocolate and sprinkled with freshly made orange sugar and crunchy flaky salt, this trendsetting cookie will steal the show in any cookie box you put it in. 

Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe ; Food Stylist: Jason Schreiber

If You’re Making Cocoa Ribbon Cookies, a Few Tips

  • Get ahead on prep. You can make the dough weeks in advance and keep it in your freezer, ready to slice and bake at a moment’s notice. 
  • Keep your dough cold. To keep the cookie edges straight and defined, it’s important that the cookies are as cold as possible before baking. 
  • Zest correctly. To get the ultimate flavor out of your oranges, make sure to avoid the white pith when zesting the citrus — it brings an unpleasant bitterness.

Cocoa Ribbon Cookies Recipe

Keep a log of these chocolate-orange-flavored cookies in your freezer to bake at a moment’s notice.

Prep time 45 minutes

Cook time 15 minutes

Makes 15 (2-inch) cookies

Nutritional Info


For the cookies:

  • 8 tablespoons

    (1 stick) unsalted butter

  • 3 ounces

    dark chocolate (about 70%, not chocolate chips)

  • 5

    medium oranges

  • 1 cup

    granulated sugar

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    kosher salt

  • 1/4 cup

    extra-virgin olive oil

  • 1/4 cup

    sour cream

  • 2 cups

    all-purpose flour, divided

  • 2 tablespoons

    Dutch-processed cocoa powder

For the toppings:

  • 1/4

    medium orange

  • 1 tablespoon

    granulated sugar

  • 4 ounces

    dark chocolate (about 70%, not chocolate chips)

  • Flaky salt, for sprinkling


Make the cookies:

  1. Let 1 stick unsalted butter sit at room temperature until softened. Meanwhile, coarsely chop 3 ounces dark chocolate (heaping 1/2 cup) and place in a small microwave-safe bowl.

  2. Finely grate the zest from 5 medium oranges (about 2 tablespoons) into the bowl of a food processor fitted with the blade attachment. Add 1 cup granulated sugar and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt. Pulse in short bursts until the sugar turns a bright yellow color and is very fragrant, about 30 seconds.

  3. Add the butter and 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil. Process until the butter becomes fluffy and loose in consistency, 2 to 3 minutes. Add 1/4 cup sour cream and pulse until combined, about 10 (1-second) pulses.

  4. Transfer 1 cup of the batter to a medium bowl. Add 1 cup of the all-purpose flour to this batter and mix with a flexible spatula until an orange dough forms.

  5. Melt the chocolate in the microwave on high in 15-second intervals, stirring between each. Add the chocolate to the remaining batter in the food processor. Sift 2 tablespoons Dutch-processed cocoa powder over the batter. Pulse, stopping and scraping down the sides of the food processor as needed, until combined and a glossy and smooth batter forms, about 10 (1-second) pulses.

  6. Add the remaining 1 cup all-purpose flour to the food processor and pulse until combined and the dough forms a ball around the blade, about 15 (1-second) pulses.

  7. Place the chocolate dough in between 2 sheets of parchment paper. Using a rolling pin, roll the dough out into a rough 8 1/2 x 11 1/2-inch rectangle about 1/2-inch thick.

  8. Remove the top layer of parchment paper and reserve for baking. Evenly dollop the orange dough over the chocolate batter. Using a spatula or your hands, spread the orange dough into an even layer. Grasping the parchment, slide the cookie dough sheet onto a baking sheet or large plate. Refrigerate until slightly hardened but still malleable enough to push your finger into and make a dent, 8 to 10 minutes.

  9. Slide the dough sheet, still on the parchment, onto a work surface and position with a longer side closer to you. Make 3 parallel cuts, spaced evenly apart, across the dough so that you are left with 4 (2 1/8 x 11 1/2-inch) strips. Slide a long offset spatula or metal bench scrape under the strips to help loosen them, then stack the strips on top of each other. Gently press down on the stack to ensure all the layers are sticking to each other.

  10. Freeze until fully hardened, about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat the oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with the reserved parchment paper.

  11. Using a knife or bench scraper, trim off the rough edges for the stack of dough. (Don’t throw away the scraps: press them together to form a marbled cookie dough, chill it, slice it, and bake at the end.)

  12. Working quickly to keep the dough as cold as possible, cut the dough crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick slices. If some cookie dough layers fall apart as you’re slicing, simply push them back together. Arrange the cookies on the baking sheet, spacing them at least 1 inch apart.

  13. Bake until the cookies are light golden-brown on the bottom, 12 to 15 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes on the baking sheet, then transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely before making the toppings.

Make the toppings:

  1. Finely grate the zest from 1/4 medium orange (about 1/8 packed teaspoon) into a small bowl. Add 1 tablespoon granulated sugar and rub the zest into the sugar with your fingers until the sugar is fragrant and yellow in color.

  2. Coarsely chop 4 ounces dark chocolate (about 3/4 cup). Transfer heaping 1/2 cup to a small microwave-safe bowl. Heat in the microwave on high in 15-second intervals, stirring between each, until melted and smooth. Add the remaining chocolate and stir until all the chocolate is melted and smooth.

  3. Dip each cookie halfway into the melted chocolate and return to the baking sheet. Freeze until the chocolate is almost set, 2 to 3 minutes. Immediately sprinkle the chocolate-covered side with the orange sugar and flaky salt. Let sit until the chocolate is completely set, about 10 minutes more.

Recipe Notes

Substitutions: The orange zest can be substituted with lemon zest for a different citrus flavor. Dutch-processed cocoa powder can be substituted with regular cocoa powder, but the chocolate cookie portion will be lighter in color.

Make ahead: The trimmed cookie log can be made up to a few weeks in advance, tightly wrapped in plastic wrap, and frozen. Carefully slice the log into cookies (thaw for 5 minutes at room temperature first if too firm to cut) and bake immediately for the same amount of time.

Storage: Leftover cookies can be stored in an airtight container for up to 4 days.

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