Chocolate Chip and Mandarin Orange Cookie Bars, #CreativeCookieExchange

A hush of peace, a rush of joy, December brings a bundle of contradictions. An explosion of chocolate, cookies and cakes crowd kitchen counters. Shoppers shimmy past one another in malls, snatching toys of technology, which promise happiness. Yet, a sense of the profane also presides over the season.  Candles are lit. Songs of praise to the Creator spill from homes, synagogues and churches.

I’m comfortable with the holiday paradox. In my hometown of Tokyo, Christmas is strictly a commercial affair. The official cake Christmas cake is a strawberry shortcake crammed with fresh fruit and whipped cream. While indulging in this beyond aesthetically beautiful and tummy pleasure, I was still acutely aware of the Western meaning of the season thanks to our Sunday church visits.

Chocolate chip cookie bars share the spotlight with Mandarin orange bits.

Holiday parties in the homes of other ex-pats also introduced me to other reverent traditions, too. Mrs. (Selma) Janow’s party glittered with elegant decorations celebrating Hanukah in addition to a Christmas tree. Memories of her parties are the most cherished ones: I got to dance with my father. And a handful of Mrs. Janow’s famous chocolate chip cookies were mine to enjoy!

Kagami mochi - a Japanese symbol of longevity and prosperity.

Whether in the home of an ex-pat or a Japanese friend, Japanese Mandarin (mikan) oranges were ever present. In fact as the New Year approaches, kagami mochi (mirror mochi – pounded rice) with a mikan perched atop are seen everywhere. The Mandarin orange atop the pounded rice symbolizes longevity and prosperity.

Mandarin orange zest and fresh fruit mix with white and semi-sweet chocolate chips
and make one yummy cookie bar!

Today’s Creative Cookie Exchange theme is International Winter Holiday Cookies. Sooo, I combined the American classic buttery-chocolate chipper à la Mrs. Janow with bits of Mandarin orange. Colleagues in my acting class delighted in the cookie bars. One classmate commented that my chocolate chip and mandarin orange bars were reminiscent of a Cointreau flavor! At any rate, the pan was empty by evening’s end. Always a good sign. Hope you enjoy the cookie bars, too!

Chocolate Chip and Mandarin Orange Cookie Bars

Chocolate Chip and Mandarin Orange Bars are studded with Mandarin orange bits and chocolate morsels. (I like to use a combination of semi-sweet and white chocolates.) The tasty bars are similar in texture to Blondies. Every time I share my Asian fusion Chocolate Chip and Mandarin Orange Bars, they vanish!  

Adapted from a Nestles chocolate chip pan cookies recipe.

  • 1 small Mandarin (mikan) orange
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • ¾ cup cane sugar
  • ¾ cup brown sugar
  • 2¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla powder
  • 4 large eggs at room temperature
  • 2 cups chocolate chips

Line a 15 x 10 jelly roll pan with parchment paper. (Or if you have a small oven like yours truly, the recipe will work for one 9 x 12 ½ inch jelly roll pan plus one 6” round cake pan.) Spray butter flavored or coconut oil cooking spray onto the parchment lined pan(s.)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Gather the zest of 1 small Mandarin (mikan) orange. (About a teaspoon.) Set aside.

Chop the Mandarin orange into tiny bits. Place the orange bits into a microwave-safe dish. Microwave covered with a paper towel for about a minute to reduce the fruit’s moisture. Set aside.

In a kitchen stand mixer, beat the butter until fluffy. Add the sugars. Continue to beat on medium speed for 4 to 5 minutes. 

Add eggs, one at a time. Scrape the bowl often to ensure all ingredients are incorporated and combined.

In a separate bowl whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, vanilla powder, the Mandarin orange zest and chopped bits. Slowly add to the sugar / butter mixture.
Hand stir the chocolate chips into the mix. (I used a combo of white chocolate and semi-sweet morsels.)

Spread into the prepared pan.

Bake for 25 minutes until golden brown.

The theme this month is International Winter Holiday Cookies! If it is a cookie traditionally made somewhere in the world for a holiday traditionally observed near the Winter Solstice you might find it on this list. If you are a blogger and want to join in the fun, contact Laura at thespicedlife AT gmail DOT com and she will get you added to our Facebook group, where we discuss our cookies and share links. You can also just use us as a great resource for cookie recipes--be sure to check out our Pinterest Board and our monthly posts (you can find all of them here at The Spiced Life). You will be able to find them the first Tuesday after the 15th of each month! Also, if you are looking for inspiration to get in the kitchen and start baking, check out what all of the hosting bloggers have made:

Wishing you wondrous joys of the world.

The Ninja Baker

© ™ Watkinson 2012

The Ninja Baker has guest blogged and contributed recipes to numerous food sites. These additional recipes can be found here.



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