Although this season I have made many pans of Cracker Candy for teachers, and I have prepared a batch of Oreo Balls for a party that my daughter attended, today was the official start of our Christmas cookie baking. Just like my mom and I used to do so many years ago, my children and I will pass out plates of cookies to our neighbors on Christmas Eve. The platters will contain an assortment of treats that have been home baked just a few days prior to us hand delivering them so that they are as fresh as possible.
My mother taught me that a good cookie plate includes sweets with a variety of shapes, textures, and flavors. Because I gravitate towards recipes that include chocolate and peanut butter, this year I searched through my cookie cookbooks for something different. I found Orange Drop Cookies in my tried-and-true Betty Crocker's Cooky Book. Although I've had this cookbook in my possession since I was eight years old, the main recipe that I use from it is Ethel's Sugar Cookies. I'm not sure why it has taken me thirty three years to realize that there are lots of other wonderful recipes in this book including Russian Tea Cakes, Chocolate Crinkles, and Candy Cane Cookies.
The Orange Drop Cookies that I made today are a citrusy addition to any cookie platter or cookie exchange. They are small, round cookies with a creamy dollop of Orange Butter Icing on top. The addition of orange zest and orange juice in the batter and in the icing brightens the flavor and adds a subtle orange color. When my eleven year old son walked into the kitchen to find these lovely morsels cooling on the wire racks he said, "Oh, mini scones!" After sampling one he said that their flavor and texture also reminded him of my Lemon Scones. All of my children plus a few random neighborhood kids give Orange Drop Cookies a thumbs up. They are easy to make and will round out our cookie plates nicely.
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Orange Drop Cookies
2/3 cup shortening
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup orange juice
2 Tablespoons orange zest
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- Cream shortening, sugar, and egg thoroughly.
- Stir in orange juice and orange zest.
- Whisk together dry ingredients.
- Blend dry ingredients into shortening mixture.
- Drop batter by rounded teaspoonfuls of dough about 2 inches apart onto an ungreased baking sheet.
- Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until delicately browded on edges.
- Top each cookie with a dollop of Orange Butter Icing.
Orange Butter Icing
3 Tablespoons butter, softened
1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
2 Tablespoons orange juice
2 teaspoons orange zest
- Blend butter and sugar together.
- Stir in orange juice and zest until smooth.
- Spread a dollop on each Orange Drop Cookie.
adapted from Betty Crocker's Cooky Book