These adorable orange shortbread cookies are inspired by Disney’s “The Little Mermaid” and Sprinkle Pop’s “Mermaid Princess” sprinkle mix. The cookies are dipped in dark chocolate, sprinkled with sea salt and sandwiched like clam shells, which would fit right in under the sea! (Credit goes to my husband for the flavor idea.)
This recipe is fairly straightforward. Honestly, the hardest part is waiting for the dough to chill! Shortbread cookies are notorious for spreading, but with a little bit of patience that can easily be prevented. Chill the dough in the refrigerator overnight (or for at least 8 hours) before rolling and cutting out the shapes. Then chill the entire pan of cutouts in the freezer or refrigerator before baking.
I also prevent spreading by using a combination of butter and butter-flavored Crisco. You can substitute the Crisco for butter, but the cookies may spread more.
Roll half of the dough to no more than 1/4-inch thick on a lightly floured surface, leaving the rest in the refrigerator. Cut out the shapes (this is the cookie cutter that I used) and transfer them to a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone mat using a lightly floured spatula. Work quickly. The dough becomes more difficult to handle as it warms up. Re-roll the scraps and the remaining dough. Don’t put more than 12 cookies on a pan.
Note: This post includes affiliate links. There is no extra cost when you make a purchase through an affiliate link, although I do receive a small commission which helps make recipes like this possible. Thank you for supporting Roses & Whiskers! I also received compensation from Sprinkle Pop for this recipe.
Don’t preheat the oven until the cookie cutouts have been in the freezer for 15 minutes or in the refrigerator for an hour. Then bake for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the edges are lightly browned and the cookies are set (slightly soft, but no longer wet and doughy).
Melt the chocolate wafers according to the instructions on the bag once the cookies are cool. I recommend melting the wafers in a tall, thin glass container.
Dip the end of each cookie in the chocolate and set on a sheet of wax paper to harden. Dip a few at a time, and then sprinkle with sea salt before the chocolate sets. Use as much or as little sea salt as you want!
Make the frosting while the chocolate sets. The orange in the frosting is a subtle flavor, but it works when paired with the orange of the shortbread. However, you can substitute the orange juice for orange extract, either partially or completely, to achieve a stronger citrus flavor. Consider doing that if you’re heavy-handed with the sea salt.
Pipe a rosette onto the back of a cookie, add sprinkles and then top with a second cookie to form a clam shell. Hold the clam shell sandwich sideways to add more sprinkles.
Store in an airtight container and enjoy!
Tag me @rosesandwhiskers on Instagram if you try these orange shortbread chocolate sea salt cookies and use the hashtag #rosesandwhiskers. Happy baking!
Orange Shortbread Chocolate Sea Salt Cookies
- 2 cups gluten free 1-to-1 baking flour or substitute all-purpose flour for gluten-full cookies
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 large oranges zested
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter softened to room temperature
- 1/2 cup butter-flavored Crisco
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 large egg room temperature
- 1 tsp freshly squeezed orange juice
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 10 oz. dark chocolate melting wafers
- coarse sea salt to taste
Orange Buttercream Frosting Ingredients
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter softened to room temperature
- 2 tbsp Crisco
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- 1 tbsp heavy cream
- 1 tbsp + 1 tsp freshly squeezed orange juice (or substitute partially or wholly for orange extract)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- Sprinkle Pop's "Mermaid Princess" sprinkle mix
- Whisk together the flour, salt and orange zest in a medium bowl.
- In a large bowl, cream the butter, Crisco and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg, making sure it's fully incorporated. Then mix in the orange juice and vanilla.
- Fold in the flour mixture on low speed, until just combined. Cover and chill the dough overnight in the refrigerator, for at least 8 hours.
- Roll out half of the chilled dough on a lightly floured surface, until it's 1/4-inch thick. (Leave the rest of the dough in the refrigerator.) Cut out shells or desired shape, and use a lightly floured spatula to transfer the cutouts to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone mat. Don't put more than 12 cookies on a baking sheet.
- Re-roll the scraps, and then roll out the remaining dough. Place the baking sheets (with the cookie cutouts on them) in the freezer for 15 minutes or in the refrigerator for 1 hour before preheating the oven to 375°F (190°C).
- Bake the cookies for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the edges are lightly browned and the cookies are set. Let the cookies rest on the pan for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.
Decorating the Cookies
- Once the cookies are cool, melt the chocolate in a tall glass measuring cup according to the instructions on the bag. Let the melted chocolate rest for 5 minutes. Then, dip the end of each cookie in the chocolate and place on a sheet of wax paper to harden. Dip a few at a time, and sprinkle with sea salt before the chocolate hardens. (Use as much or as little sea salt as you want!)
- Make the frosting while the chocolate sets. Cream the butter and Crisco until light and fluffy. Then mix in the powdered sugar, heavy cream, orange juice and vanilla on low speed until combined, before beating on high speed until light and fluffy. Feel free to substitute orange extract for the orange juice if you want an even stronger flavor. Color the frosting or leave it white.
- Fit a piping bag with Wilton tip 1M and pipe a rosette on the back of one shortbread cookie. Add some sprinkles, and top with a second cookie to form a clam shell. Hold the cookie sandwich sideways so you can add sprinkles to the front of the frosting. Repeat with the remaining cookies.
- Store the cookies in an airtight container and enjoy!