Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Holiday Orange Spice Sugar Cookies

I couldn't resist adding one more sugar cookie recipe to the holiday cookie series. This recipe represents a slightly tart change of pace from the sugar cookie recipes I've shared with you so far. Lemon, orange, and different spices combine to give this crispy cookie a delicate flavor. By themselves the cookies are quite good. Combined with the icing, they are amazing. I make them every year.

For the Cookies

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon five spice powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
3/4 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon fresh grated orange peel
1 teaspoon fresh grated lemon peel
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2 egg yolks
Cooking spray

For the Icing

1 1/3 cups powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon fresh grated orange peel
1 tablespoon orange juice
1 tablespoon lemon juice

In a large bowl, combine the flour, ginger, baking powder, salt, five spice powder, and allspice. Mix well and set aside.

In another bowl, beat the butter with a hand mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add the sugar, orange peel and lemon peel and beat until well blended. Add the corn syrup, vanilla, and egg yolks.

Add to the flour mixture. Change the hand mixer blades to dough hooks (if you have them) and beat on low speed until fully mixed.

Divide the dough in half. Place each half between two sheets of waxed paper and roll out the dough between the wax paper sheets to about a 1/8 inch thickness. Check the underside of the dough periodically to make sure the waxed paper stays smooth. Creases will ruin the cookies later on when you try to take them off the paper.

Refrigerate the dough for 30 minutes, or until firm. Stacking the dough on a cookie sheet can help keep if flat.

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

Spray the baking sheets you'll be using with cooking spray and set aside. Take one dough portion out of the refrigerator and place it on a cutting board or flat counter top. Peel off the top layer of waxed paper. Using assorted 2 to 3 inch cookies cutters, cut various holiday shapes out of the dough. Use a spatula to gently remove the cut cookies from the wax paper and place them 1 or 2 inches apart on the cookies sheets. Repeat with the rest of the dough.

Don't just throw out the remaining dough. You can reshape it and get more cookies by repeating the process of rolling it out between waxed paper sheets and returning it to the refrigerator to keep it firm and easy to work with. Work with only one dough portion at a time.

Place the cookie sheets on a rack in the upper third of the oven, baking the cookies for about 8 minutes, or until the edges are very lightly browned. Cool on the baking sheet for one minute, and then transfer to wire racks until completely cooled.

I like to work with one cookie sheet at a time, preparing the remaining dough on a second sheet while the first one is cooking. The pace is lively because of the short cooking time, but it helps me get more done when counter space is at a minimum.

To prepare the icing, combine the powdered sugar, orange peel, orange juice and lemon juice in a small bowl. Use fresh juice from the orange and lemon you got the peel from. Beat with a hand mixer on medium speed until all is combined and smooth. Add additional orange juice, if needed, to get to the desired consistency for piping or drizzling.

You can decorate the cookies with the icing any way you want, but this is how I like to do it.

Lay out clean waxed paper sheets on your counter and arrange the cookies in a single layer on the paper. Pour the icing into a plastic sandwich bag. Push the icing into one corner of the bag. Roll up the empty portion of the bag to create an impromptu piping bag. Snip off the very tip of the corner of the bag where the icing is, and use it to drizzle the icing over the cookies. Use long, bold strokes across several cookies. Don't be afraid of making a mess. That's what the waxed paper covering your counter is for.

Let the iced cookies stand for about an hour until completely set. These cookies can be stored in an air tight container for about 2 weeks.

Makes about 3 to 4 dozen cookies.

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