Saturday, January 9, 2010
This is one of my all-time favorite cookies; they're buttery and richly orange-flavored. I make them every Christmas, and as I was devour.... er, tasting them this season, I wondered why I only make them at Christmas. Maybe it's all the "tasting" I do. . . Once I added miniature chocolate chips to the batter; the cookies were delicious, but the chocolate isn't really necessary. (I don't say that very often!)
The recipe is from Nantucket Open House by Sarah Leah Chase. It's one of my favorite cookbooks, along with her Cold-Weather Cooking.
2 cups (4 sticks) unsalted butter (no substitutions), at room temperature
1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
4 cups all-purpose flour, preferably unbleached
Finely grated zest of 2 oranges1/2 tsp. orange oil or extract (my addition)
1 large egg
1 tbsp. water
Cream the butter and sugar in a mixing bowl. Beat in zest and orange oil or extract. Gradually beat in flour and salt to make a fairly stiff dough. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 2 hours.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
Roll out the dough a half-inch thick on a lightly floured surface. Cut out with cookie cutter(s) of choice. I use a small (2-inch) gingerbread girl cutter, because I like them with the chocolate shortbread boys I make.
Place cookies on prepared baking sheets. Beat the egg with water in a small bowl, and brush lightly over cookies. If you run out, make more egg-water mixture. (The original recipe called for 2 eggs and 2 tbsp. water, but I found I always had some left.) You can, of course, skip this step, though it does make for an even prettier cookie.
Bake until just golden 10 to 15 minutes. I check mine starting at 10 minutes, than add a minute at a time till they are perfect. Let cookies cool, then store in airtight containers. Makes about 60 cookies.
These freeze very well; I like to make them up to a month before Christmas.