I can't imagine a Christmas going by without a batch of my mom's Cinnamon Orange Cookies. It is the traditional cookie of my family and although they get baked throughout the year for special occasions, I mostly associate them with the holidays. The sweet, citrusy smell & flavor of freshly grated orange zest and the heady aroma of cinnamon sugar is what this cookie is all about. The recipe has been in our family for several generations now and I can assure you, it's a well-deserved heirloom recipe. Everyone ought to try it. If you're a seasoned baker, you will immediately recognize this cookie as being a shortbread variation. If you're a beginner at baking, you will be pleased to know that it's a very easy cookie to make with only a handful of ingredients. Let's start baking!
Cinnamon Orange Cookies
The Cookie Ingredients
- 2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon freshly grated orange zest
- 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/8 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
Cinnamon Sugar Coating
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Preheat the oven to 350° F (oven racks centered)
Note: mom always doubles the recipe.
In a medium-sized bowl, combine the flour, baking powder & salt; whisk to combine. With a microplane grater (my favorite grater), remove the zest from a navel orange; I do this at the last minute so that I don't lose the essential oil. Mom will sometimes include the entire zest of a whole orange, but 1 tablespoon is plenty. Combine the zest & sugar in a small bowl. Squeeze the orange & remove any pits. Measure out the 2 tablespoons of juice for the dough (drink the leftover juice!).
Combine the cinnamon sugar coating ingredients in a medium-sized bowl & set aside.
In the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the 2 sticks of unsalted butter for one minute on medium speed; scrape down your bowl & paddle. Add the sugar & zest. Cream on medium speed for about 2-3 minutes until creamy & light. Scrape down your bowl & paddle at least once during this process.
Do you see the zest evenly dispersed throughout? When you add the zest at the beginning, along with the butter & sugar, you help release all of the essential oils. This creates a richer & more pronounced flavored cookie (thank you mom!). On low speed, add the dry ingredients along with the orange juice. Mix until just combined. Do not overmix!
The finished cookie dough. It is smooth, fragrant & very flavorful.
Measure out teaspoon-sized pieces of dough (literally use a teaspoon measuring spoon to scoop out the dough & push it out with your finger) & roll them between your palms to create little balls. Place them on a silpat-lined (or parchment-lined) baking sheet, with about 2" of space in between each cookie. Promptly pop the sheet into your preheated oven. You will need several baking sheets for this recipe.
❃Bake for approximately 20 minutes.❃
The cookies should begin to brown around the bottom edges & be firm to the touch. The tops will also get a bit golden. Don't let them brown excessively.
Yield: approximately 5 dozen cookies.
As soon as they come out of the oven, while they're still hot, drop a few into the cinnamon sugar & toss to coat evenly. Repeat.
Place them on racks set over baking sheets to cool completely. The cookies will keep in an airtight container for one week. Do share them with friends & family!
The aroma is absolutely incredible! I dare you to eat just one.
The delicious flavor of this Cinnamon Orange Cookie always transports me back to childhood. I have very good memories of helping mom in the kitchen make batch after batch of her cookies to give out to family & friends for Christmas. Nothing gives me greater pleasure than being able to share this recipe with you, so I hope you try it for the holidays this year. Perhaps after baking these cookies you may want to make them one of your family traditions each & every year, just like we've being doing for decades in ours. From my home to yours, have fun making them!