Sunday, December 20, 2009

Christmas Cookies: Tangerine Dainties

Christmas and cookies just go together, don't you think? I sure do, which is why, every year at Christmastime, I make up a bunch of different cookies. My long time readers know this, of course. I've already got a few other cookie recipes here that you may want to check out.

This weekend, though, it was time to do something with the large number of tangerines my mother had given us for Christmas. Even though the family was doing it's best to devour them, there were quite a few left. They certainly weren't eating themselves. Then I remembered this recipe.

I really like these tiny, bite-sized cookies. Their small size may be part of the charm. They pack a surprisingly full flavor for their small size. The actual cookie has a buttery, mildly orange taste, not too sweet. The icing adds the perfect amount of sweetness, with a touch of tartness, to this elegant cookie.

If you don't have any tangerines on hand, use oranges instead.

Equipment Needed
Box grater or Microplane Grater/Zester
Several Baking sheets
Mixing bowls
Hand mixer
Measuring cups and spoons
Wire cooling racks
waxed paper


for the cookies
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1 egg, plus two more egg yolks
2 tablespoons freshly grated tangerine zest
2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon lemon extract
non-stick cooking spray

for the icing
2 cups powdered sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon tangerine juice
1/2 teaspoon fresh grated tangerine zest
1 drop each, red and yellow food coloring
1 tablespoon water, more as required

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Spray the baking sheets with cooking spray and set aside.

To prepare the cookies:
In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Mix well.

In a large bowl, beat the butter and granulated sugar together with a hand mixer, at high speed, until well combined. Add the egg, extra egg yolks, tangerine zest, vanilla, and lemon extract. Beat with the hand mixer on medium speed until well blended.

Add the flour mixture to the bowl. Switch to dough hooks, it you have them, and mix until well blended and the dough comes together well. Cover with plastic wrap or a lid and place in the refrigerator for 5 to 10 minutes to stiffen the dough.

Roll the dough into 3 /4 inch balls and place on the baking sheets. Better yet, get your kids to do it for you. Make sure you've got around 2 inches of space between them. You'll can easily do this in batches so, don't worry if you run out of baking sheets before you run out of dough. Just put the dough back in the refrigerator between batches.

Place the baking sheets in a single layer in the upper third of your oven.* Bake for 5 minutes and then turn the baking sheets around, so the cookies that were in the front of the oven are now in the back, and vice versa. This helps ensure even cooking. Bake for 5 more minutes.

Remove the baking sheets from the oven. Using a spatula, carefully remove the cookies and place them on wire cooling racks. If the cookies are too soft, and squish in when you try and remove them, let them sit on the baking pan for about 5 more minutes to firm up. Let them cool completely while you put the next batch in the oven.

To prepare the icing:
In a medium bowl, combine the powdered sugar, lemon juice, tangerine juice, zest, food coloring, and 1 tablespoon of water. Using a fork, or the hand mixed, blend until well combined. Add additional water, a little at a time, until the icing is just a little runny. Set aside until all the cookies are completely cooled.

Once the cookies are cool, cover part of your counter or kitchen table with wax paper. Dip the tops of the cookie into the icing, and let the excess run off. Place the cookies, iced side up, on the waxed paper and let stand until the icing completely sets, about 45 minutes.

These cookies can be stored in an airtight container for up to a week, or in the freezer for one month, assuming you don't eat them all first. A better option is to give any you don't think you'll eat in time to your neighbors as a Christmas gift.

Makes about 4 to 6 dozen cookies.

I know that icing each individual cookie can be a pain, but trust me. This cookie is worth it. Enlist your family members or friends to help you make them.

*Placing the baking pans this high in the oven ensures the cookies are well cooked, but the bottoms don't get too dark. Don't try and bake them on two different rack levels. I've tried it, and the cookies never cook evenly that way. It's safer just to do them in batches.


Joy said...

What a delightful recipe! It is summer here and tangerines are not in season, but i will look forward to trying this recipe when winter, and winter fruit, come to Melbourne!

John Newman said...

Thanks, Joy! My family loves these things. My wife says they're addicting. It's good this recipe makes so many!