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Variety Is a Good Thing
Between all of my relatives when I was growing up, we always had about a dozen classic cookies that were made over and over again each Christmas. But here and there (I’m guessing it was the cold duck), my mother would get experimental with the baking and try something new. She made these orange cookies a couple of times in the 70s, and then they were never seen of nor heard from again for no particular reason. And not even remembered until recently.
Then a couple years ago, a gal at work was talking about these cookies that were a favorite of her son, and I had a total flashback to Christmas in rural Iowa, complete with the frost on the inside of the windows and Gordon Lightfoot on the stereo. She gave me the recipe she uses, and I tweaked it to reflect what I’d remembered.
Incidentally, this recipe makes a LOT of cookies, so give yourself time and space. You’ll have no trouble getting rid of them, though – they’re very chewy and fragrant and are a nice change of pace from the typical mint and chocolate offerings of the season. And they are to die for right out of the oven or fridge with a glass of milk or cup of strong coffee.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- ½ cup real butter (softened)
- ½ cup Crisco
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 6 cups sifted flour
- ½ cup orange juice (with pulp)
- ½ cup grated orange peel (orange zest)
Cream the shortening and sugar. Add eggs and beat well. Add orange juice, buttermilk, and vanilla and beat. Combine dry ingredients, and add gradually to mixture. Add about 2 teaspoons of the orange zest to the mixture and blend. Drop by teaspoons onto lightly greased cookie sheets. (Don’t get lazy and make these too big; they’ll still be delicious, but you’ll have orange biscuits versus orange cookies.)
Bake for 10 to 12 minutes.
Don’t worry if they look sort of funny – they will typically develop a mound shape, and they’re sort of lumpy and bumpy by design.
- 3 tbsp real butter (softened)
- ½ cup milk
- ¼ tsp vanilla
- 1 tsp orange juice
- 3 to 4 cups powdered sugar
- Remaining orange zest
- Orange food coloring, if desired
Blend until you have a spreadable consistency and get to frosting that ton of cookies. Refrigerate once the icing sets.