Florida Orange Cookies


Florida oranges take center stage in these delicious iced cookies made  from Every Day Feasts.

by Cindy Valdez

There are three things that typically come to mind when thinking of Florida:  Mickey Mouse, alligators and oranges.  This being a blog about food, that rules out Mickey.  And while alligator can be quite yummy, I wouldn’t have the slightest idea where to buy it (I’ve never seen alligator in the meat section at Publix, have you?).

So, cheaper than Mickey Mouse and easier to get your hands on than alligator, let’s talk about Florida oranges.

The orange varieties most commonly grown in Florida are Navel, Valencia, Hamlin, Pineapple, and Ambersweet; and during most orange seasons (which runs October through June), more than 80% of the orange juice sold in the U.S. is made from Florida oranges.

An interesting fact most people don’t know about oranges is that, like many Florida residents I know, they weren’t native Floridians.  The first orange trees were planted in St. Augustine by early Spanish explorers sometime between 1513 and 1565.  Thanks to our subtropical weather (sometimes known as oppressive heat) and sandy soil, orange trees thrive here. (learn more about Florida oranges here)

And I’m so happy they do.  And you will be, too, after you’ve tried two (or seven) of these delicious cake-like Florida Orange Cookies.

What you’ll need:

(for the cookies)

1 c. butter

2 c. sugar

4 oz. fresh squeezed orange juice (approx. 1 ½ oranges)

2 tbsp grated orange zest

2 eggs

5 cups flour

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1 c. buttermilk

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  Cream your butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.  Add the orange juice and orange zest, mix well.  Add the eggs and beat until blended.  Combine the flour, baking powder and baking soda in a bowl.  Add to the creamed mixture alternately with the buttermilk, mixing well after each addition.  Drop the dough by ¼ cups 1 inch apart onto a greased or parchment-lined baking sheet.  Bake for 14 minutes or until golden brown. Yields 3 dozen cookies.

Now, I tried dropping large, ¼ cup sized drops onto my cookie sheet and holy cow they were HUGE.  And there was definitely enough batter to make 3 dozen giant cookies, but I wanted something a little smaller so I used a soup spoon for dropping the dough.

The dough is very sticky!

The recipe says to bake until golden brown (about 14 minutes), but I actually found the cookies that browned a bit to be a little crunchy on the outside and less cakey in texture than what I wanted.  For subsequent batches, I reduced baking time by about 2 minutes to prevent browning and was really happy with the outcome.  The only other change I’d make is to add some more orange zest or juice to the batter in order to get a really strong orange flavor.  It’s there (the flavor), but I’m more of a smack-me-in-the-face-with-flavor kind of gal, so more is always better.

The lighter cookies were much softer than the slightly browned cookies.

While your cookies are cooling, make your icing:

2 c. confectioners’ sugar

¼ c. butter, softened

3 tbsp fresh squeezed orange juice

1 tsp grated orange zest

Combine the confectioners’ sugar, butter, orange juice and orange zest in a bowl and mix well, adding additional orange juice to reach your desired consistency.  Spread over the cooled cookies.

I totally blanked on photographing the icing.  I went for a happy medium as far as consistency was concerned – not too stiff, not too runny.  Adding about 1 or 2 tablespoons of additional orange juice helped to keep it from getting too stiff and also helped to amp up the orange flavor quite a bit.

I let the cookies cool on wire racks for about 30 minutes before frosting them.  There was exactly the right amount of frosting to cover each and every cookie, so if you like LOTS of frosting, you might want to double the frosting recipe.

These were seriously outstanding cookies.  My husband doesn’t have a big sweet tooth and he couldn’t get enough of them.  By the time I had a chance to photograph some iced cookies, everyone in my family had eaten at least one, so it was no surprise that my toddler was trying to steal one mid-photo shoot:

Here they are in their uninterrupted glory:

I gave a bunch away to some friends and, I have to be honest, I’m sort of regretting that I did now that I’m out of them.

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