All the food we tend to gravitate towards during the holiday is sort of heavy. Stews, roasts, and hams, rolls fresh from the oven and mashed potatoes heaped on the good china topped with melting pats of butter. That often extends to the desserts as well, decadent cheesecakes and chocolate cakes. Inspired by Mexican wedding cookies, these orange sugar cookies are an attempt at lightening up the final course without losing the texture that makes this type of cookies unique. With this recipe, I was hoping to add a bright citrus note without losing the sweetest that pulls us to desserts to begin with. They look like little snowballs and as you bite into them you get this rush of refreshing flavor from the orange zest and juice. The result, thanks to the powdered sugar coating, is a cookie with a flavor that hearken back summer’s orange creamsicles. This blog contains affiliate links. If you decide to purchase an item via one of these links, we receive a small commission at no cost to you.
Reminder: The digital cookie swap is still going on over on our Facebook page and people from all over are sharing their favorite cookie recipes. Check it our, find a new cookie for your best bakes list and share something you think everyone should try.
- 1 cup of salted butter
- 3 cups of flour, sifted
- 1 cup powdered sugar, sifted + 1 cup of powdered sugar for rolling
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 egg yolk
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/3 cup orange juice + 2 tablespoons reserved
- The zest of one large orange, about 1 1/2 tablespoons
Fit your Kitcheaid mixer with the paddle attachment, adding the softened butter along with one cup of powdered sugar. Start with the stir feed until the sugar has all been moistened by the butter before turning the mixer up to medium. Cream the butter and the sugar together until the butter appears light and airy. While the butter whips, set the oven to 350 degrees. Sift together the flour and baking powder together. Add the yolk, the orange juice (minus the two reserved tablespoons, the vanilla, and the orange zest) to the mixer and stir until just combined.
Scrape the sides of the bowl with a spatula before gradually adding the flour and baking powder mixture. Once incorporated, the dough should pull together rather quickly. It should appear light, relatively dry but not particularly crumbly and hold together when scooped or molded. If it’s too wet you can add more flour, a teaspoon at a time, until you achieve the desired consistency. Likewise, if the dough is too dry you can add more orange juice, once again a teaspoon at a time until the dough stays together once compressed.
Using a cookie scoop, place the dough an inch apart on a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Bake the cookies for 12 to 15 minutes. You’ll know they are ready to come out when the bottoms are golden, the tops are set and ever so lightly browned. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet until just slightly warm, 5 to 10 minutes, before rolling them in the reserved powdered sugar, which is Harp’s favorite part, other than eating them of course, and put them on a wire cooling rack to finish cooling.
- If you use unsalted butter, you should add a 1/4 teaspoon of salt to the recipe. Without the salt, even with the orange zest, these are way too sweet. The salt cuts the sugar enough to make them taste sweet enough without going overboard.
- While the dough should not be sticky, it should be a little wet. Don’t be afraid to add more orange juice. Too much flour can easily take this recipe from delicious to way to dry to choke down.
- Cookies baked on a dark cookie sheet should be closely monitored as cookies are more likely to get overdone on a darker baking sheet.