Chocolate Orange Bergamot Cookies-GF

There are two kinds of Bergamot: the fruit and the herb.  Most people are familiar with the fruit.  I’m hoping to get you to appreciate the herb.  All my reading talks about it being used for teas and adding it to salad and meat dishes.  I want you to know how it pairs extremely well with chocolate.  Extremely well.

Bergamot is Manarda or Bee Balm.  It is a member of the mint family and is quite aromatic.  The scent is described as “uplifting”.  I wholeheartedly agree.  Put that uplifting taste with chocolate and you might just “float away” when you try these cookies.  They are that transcendent. (yes, I’m going off the deep end, but I just had a cookie so I’m floating instead of falling-Ha!)

These cookies have some orange extract to give a further appeal the lovers of Bergamot, the fruit.  They also have no flour.  Nothing to intrude on the chocolate taste and it makes them gluten free.

The best way to infuse the herb into the cookies is to combine the fresh leaves with the sugar in a food processor.  This grinds the leaves into the sugar.  A short rest for the cookie dough in the refrigerator allows for further infusion of the flavor while the dough firms up for baking.  I also use dutch processed cocoa powder to remove any bitterness that can overshadow the herb.

You’ll need:

Makes 4 1/2 dozen 2 inch cookies

1 cup fresh bergamot (bee balm) leaves, removed from stems

2 cups raw sugar

1 cup vegetable shortening

2 large eggs plus 1 large egg yolk

1/2 tsp table salt

1/2 Tbs orange extract

2 cups Dutch-process cocoa powder, sifted

2 tsp baking powder

1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

1/2 cup diced or sliced almonds

In your food processor, combine sugar and bergamot leaves.  Process until leaves are finely ground and well incorporated with the sugar.  Transfer sugar mixture to your mixer.  Add shortening and beat on medium high speed until light and fluffy.  Add eggs one at a time and beat until incorporated.  Add orange extract and beat again.

Sift cocoa powder to remove any lumps and mix baking powder into cocoa.  Add dry mix slowly to wet ingredients and beat well.  Add chocolate chips and almonds and mix until just combined.  Place dough into refrigerator for at least one hour (or overnight, covered) until firm.

Preheat oven to 375 F.

Use parchment paper or silicone mats and place 1 tablespoon size scoops on baking sheet about 2 inches apart.  Press slightly and bake for 12-13 minutes until edges are set and cookie has crackled slightly.  Remove from oven and allow to cool on sheet until firm (5-8 minutes), then transfer to cooling rack until completely cool.  Enjoy!

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