I don’t mean to brag or anything, but these Orange Spice Cookies are Ludo-approved. The chef and I were both guests at a wonderful oyster tasting party last weekend where I brought these lovelies for dessert. Since I’m usually the one dolling out criticism [See: LudoBites 2.0, LudoBites 3.0], I thought it was only fair to offer Chef Ludo the chance to scrutinize my humble creations. “They’re not too bad,” he declared after a couple of hearty bites. “They’re good,” he added as he polished off the final chunk. Granted, his praise wasn’t glowing, but coming from the man who invented the black croque monsieur with ham, foie gras, and cherry amaretto jam, it pleased me to no end. “Ludo likes my cookie!” I yapped to anyone who would listen for the rest of the evening.
What makes these Orange Spice Cookies really fantastic is their crinkly and sugary exterior. The cookie’s ever-so-light crust gives way to innards that are delicate, moist, and packed with an array of warm spices. I prepared this recipe once by hand and another time with the help of a stand mixer. While using a stand mixer was easier on the muscles, I preferred the texture achieved with the handmade version. Grease up those elbows, the results are worth it.
- 1/2 cup plus 1/3 cup granulated sugar
- 2 1/3 cups all purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon cloves
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
- 1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
- 1 large egg yolk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup light or dark molasses
- 1/4 cup maple syrup
- 1 tablespoon orange zest
Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 375 degrees. Mix together 1/2 cup of sugar plus 2 teaspoons grated orange zest in a shallow bowl for coating and set aside. Whisk the flour, baking soda, spices, pepper, and salt together in a large bowl and set aside.
Beat the butter, brown sugar, and remaining 1/3 cup granulated sugar together in a large bowl using an electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy, 3 to 6 minutes. Beat in the egg yolk and vanilla until combined, about 30 seconds. Beat in the molasses and maple syrup until incorporated, about 30 seconds, scraping down the bowl and beaters as needed.
Reduce the mixer speed to low and slowly mix in the flour mixture until combined, about 30 seconds (the dough will be soft). Give the dough a final stir with a rubber spatula to make sure it is combined.
Using wet hands, roll 2 tablespoons of dough at a time into balls, then roll in the sugar and zest mixture to coat and lay on two parchment-lined baking sheets, spaced about 2 inches apart.
Bake the cookies, one sheet at a time, until the edges are set and the tops are cracked but the centers are still soft and underdone (peek through the cracks to check the centers), 10 to 12 minutes, rotating the baking sheet halfway through baking.
Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for 10 minutes, then serve warm or transfer to wire rack and let cool completely.
Makes 2 dozen cookies.
Recipe adapted from The America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook