Between the Italian Easter Bread that I made and that my Chief Culinary Consultant’s dad made, there has definitely been no shortage of orange-infused baked goods around these parts the last two weeks. However, before Easter my CCC mentioned that some orange cookies might be good – the soft, chewy kind with a glaze on top. I hadn’t made them before, but did some poking around, and decided to wait until the parade of Easter bread was behind us before whipping up the cookies. As it turns out, I didn’t wait too long, and I’m glad I didn’t. These cookies are so light and refreshing compared to some other heavier cookies. They’re a soft, buttery cookie, much like a puffy sugar cookie. The difference? They are thoroughly infused with fresh orange zest and juice to amp up their flavor. In addition, a sweet orange glaze using more zest and juice is slathered on top. These cookies scream spring, and are the perfect finish to a brunch, lunch, or dinner. They are also suitable for breakfast and snacks, as well. Aren’t all cookies?!
I absolutely love the burst of flavor that these cookies have, thanks to a ton of fresh orange zest and orange juice. Ever since seeing a recipe a few years ago that called for it, anytime I use citrus zest in a recipe, I rub it into the sugar first, and then proceed with the recipe. The oils from the zest infuse the sugar and create a much more potent flavor and aroma than just mixing the zest in as-is. I definitely recommend this method anytime you use orange, lime, or lemon zest. It’s so easy, and makes such a difference!
What is your favorite citrus-based recipe for this time of year?
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper; set aside.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside.
In a small bowl, combine the the sugar and orange zest, rubbing them together with your fingers until the zest is completely incorporated into the sugar.
Using an electric mixer on medium speed, cream together the butter and the orange zest-infused sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the egg and orange and mix until combined, scraping the sides of the bowl as needed. Reduce the mixer speed to low and gradually add the dry ingredients, mixing until just combined. If the dough seems a little on the soft side, refrigerate it for up to 30 minutes. Using a medium cookie scoop (or 2 tablespoonfuls), scoop out the dough and roll them into balls, placing them 2 inches apart on the prepared cookie sheets. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until very lightly browned around the edges, but still pale in the middle. Let cool for 5 to 10 minutes on the cookie sheet, and then remove to a cooling rack to cool completely.
To make the sweet orange glaze, whisk together the powdered sugar, orange zest, and enough orange juice to achieve the desired consistency (less juice for a thicker glaze, more for a thinner one). Spread glaze over top of the cooled cookies, and allow to set at room temperature for at least 30 minutes. Store at room temperature in an airtight container (divide layers with wax paper so the cookies don't stick together).