Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Orange creamsicle cookies

 [the sweet taste of summer in your very own kitchen]

Made it out today for my second 6am run this week!  This has to be some kind of miracle, really.  As much as I'm a morning person, rolling out of bed and pounding the pavement a mere five minutes later is a horse of different color.  And I am firm believer that while the first day is easy, the second and third days are a little more difficult since you know what's in store -- like the ridiculous humidity western PA is being "blessed" with right now.  81%!  What is that about?  The first mile was a cake walk (possibly due to the fact that I was barely conscious), but the second... whew, what a sweat fest!  The original motivation behind these morning runs was that your body is slower to warm up at the beginning of the day and it would be cooler outside, right?  Wrong!  Regardless, I'm loving this and I feel much more energized for the rest of my day.  And this picture has me so excited for my July trip to LA, where I will hopefully do at least one morning run on the beaches of Malibu.

As if the morning runs weren't helping to meet my perspiration quota for the week, I had my second hot yoga experience last night.  Torture, thy sweet name is hot yoga... or, maybe torture would be my decision to bake these cookies that needed to be chilled two hours before going to exercise, knowing that if I savored any I'd be regretting it later in that 100+ degree room.  Oh, but don't worry.  The second I got home and guzzled two huge glasses of water, I rewarded myself with an orange dreamsicle -- no, there wasn't an ice cream truck driving by at that exact moment, but some delicious cookies waiting center stage counter.

This recipe holds a special place in my heart because it is one of the first true experiments of my baking career.  I can vividly remember being in the car with Matt and saying that I needed to start adapting recipes to make them more my own.  I had just made a batch of lemon sugar snaps for my family and, while everyone raved about them, I felt a tinge of jealousy that I had simply perfected the execution of someone else's recipe.  (Mini rant - Every recipe is essentially an adaptation, however loosely, of another recipe.  There is no such thing as an original, but that shouldn't discourage you from experimenting.  If an idea is new to you and you work out the kinks on your own, then kudos!)  Anyway, we started brainstorming of ways to adapt the cooking to new flavors.  Lemon led to citrus flavors and thus orange.  But what about adding a vanilla twist?  And to make it chewier than its lemon snap ancestor?  While I was milling over the logistics of the recipe, Matt wasted no time in coming up with names for this new creation before settling on "the creamsicookie"... creamsicle + cookie.  He's a smart one, no? :)

Four trials later, this baby was ready for its debut.  Granted, the first three trials were delicious but didn't quite balance the orange and vanilla flavors like I wanted.  This version is no longer a pencil but a pen recipe -- hooray!  The citrus flavor is refreshing while the vanilla balances with warmth and sweetness.  And they are chewy, oh so chewy.  But, if you bake them for longer, they will be crisp.  So decide your own cookie destiny.  These would make a perfect picnic treat or [ahem] a unique addition to a wedding cookie table. (If you're reading, congrats Kristy!)

Made-by-Katy-but-Named-by-Matt "Creamsicookies"
(adapted almost beyond recognition from Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook)
-makes 30 cookies

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar + extra for rolling
1 large egg
Freshly grated zest of 2 oranges
1 Tablespoon freshly squeezed orange juice
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, cream of tartar, and salt; set aside.  In the large bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (if using a hand mixer, use normal beaters), beat the butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.  Add the egg, orange zest and juice, and vanilla; beat until combined.  

Slowly add the flour mixture and beat on low speed until just combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed.  Cover bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight.  (Insert a giant "BOO" here.  I somehow block this instruction from my memory and am disappointed every single time I make these that I am forced to wait to indulge in sweet citrus cookie goodness.)

Preheat oven to 350F.  Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper.  Place extra sugar for rolling (I use granulated with some orange sugar left in those Wilton Halloween sprinkles variety packs) in a shallow bowl.  Shape two level tablespoons, or one scoop with my little friend the scooper, into 1-inch balls and roll in sugar to coat completely.  Place dough balls about 3 inches apart (trust me, they will grow!) on the prepared cookie sheet.

Bake, rotating sheets halfway through, until the edges just begin to turn golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes.  Transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.

Storage tips: These creamsicookies can be kept in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 7 days.  In this sumer humid weather, they may lose a little of their crispness but will taste just as delicious.  Also, these are fantastic freezer cookies!  I've made countless batches of these for Christmas orders (and an upcoming wedding!) or just for myself, and they taste equally awesome after two months sealed in a freezer bag.  I've been known to eat one straight out of the freezer, but take out of bag and place on plate at room temperature for 30 minutes.  

But hey, don't be fooled -- if left out in plain sight, they won't come close to lasting that long.  After all, the creamsicookie is going to save the world.  Just you wait and see :)


  1. these look delicious but please explain how to ....zest an orange?

  2. Thank you for participating the Smackdown Battle. Best of luck to you. These Creamsicookies sounds delicious. Wonderful choice to submit these cookies for the contest.

    If you haven't done so, please sign up as a follower on my blog so you won't miss out on the winner announcement and new posts. Have a wonderful day!