Monday, March 11, 2013

Orange Butter Cookies

I’m trying to think spring. I really am. The giant mounds of new snow still clogging up my driveway, however, are kind of crushing that whole idea.

I’m trying to convince myself that this is a good sign that I haven’t quite got through all the winter cooking I wanted to do. For example, I didn’t make this delicious parsnip salad this year (or anything else featuring parsnips). Nor did I get around to making an orange-flavored pound cake, or anything with Meyer lemons or kumquats. And speaking of citrus, I also didn’t try a winter version of these easy butter cookies.

Well, okay, so I finally did try those. I settled on just an orange for the citrus flavor. Since the herb garden is also comfortably buried under that blanket of spring snow, I went with a more floral flavor enhancement in the form of a splash of each orange flower water and vanilla.

I wasn’t sure about the orange flower water, but I was trustingly armed with advice from Sally Schneider, both in interviews on The Splendid Table and in The Improvisational Cook. She suggests that as little as ¼ teaspoon of this perfume-y orange blossom distillate would be a lovely addition to otherwise simply-flavored baked goods. Wow! Did that ever turn out to be correct!

These cookies are wonderful. They’re pleasantly crisp and tender in texture, packed with orange flavor, and enhanced quite nicely by the floral notes from the orange flower water and vanilla extract. I couldn’t say that I could pick out the particular taste if the orange flower water but it did something great to the overall experience of biting into these cookies. Like it made the whole, which was already promisingly filled with butter and orange, greater than the sum of its parts. Thoroughly satisfying! A delicious, delicious cookie! And so easy to make!

Perhaps this last bit of winter won’t be so bad…


Orange Butter Cookies
Based on a recipe from Bon Appetit magazine, July 2011

If you don’t have orange flower water, you could probably leave it out and still have a good cookie. I highly recommend leaving in the vanilla extract, however, which also compliments the fragrance of the orange very well.

1 cup all-purpose flour
½ cup powdered sugar
¼ teaspoon coarse (kosher) salt
1 stick (½ cup) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
finely grated zest of 1 medium-size orange
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed orange juice
¼ teaspoon orange flower water
¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
additional powdered sugar for pressing the cookie dough

1. Preheat oven to 375 F. Lightly spray cookie sheets with cooking spray or lightly brush with oil or butter.

2. Place the flour, powdered sugar, and salt in the bowl of a food processor and pulse to combine. Add the remaining ingredients (except the additional powdered sugar). Process in long pulses until a dough is formed.

3. Measure a heaping tablespoon of dough for each cookie. Roll the dough into a ball and place on a prepared cookie sheet. Place the additional powdered sugar on a plate. Press the bottom of a small measuring cup in the powdered sugar. Press each cookie ball into about a 2-inch circle with the bottom of the measuring cup.

4. Bake at 375 for about 15 minutes, or until the edges of the cookies are lightly browned. Cool the cookies on the pan for 2 minutes. Remove the cookies from the pan and cool on a wire rack.

Makes 18-20 cookies.

Another recipe like this one: Lemon, Lime and Basil Cookies

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