I created these cookies for a recipe contest. I didn’t win the contest, but I didn’t mind that much, because I INVENTED A COOKIE.
To do it, I looked at a million cookie recipes and then mish-moshed them together with some of my own experiences to come up with ingredients and proportions. By the end I was just tasting, adding, tasting, checking, and adjusting as I went along. And I think they’re terrific! The glaze, despite the powdered sugar it contains, isn’t terribly sweet, so it’s a great counterpoint to the sweetness of the cookie and the turbinado sugar, with the orange there just as a whisper, a subtle note. These cookies are really unique, and a nice break from the sugary-sweet cutout cookies that are a relentless (but adorable) holiday staple. They add a nice touch of sophistication.
I use King Arthur whole wheat white flour in most of my baking; it’s a wheat flour that tastes like white, but all-purpose flour is just fine too. The dough requires a bit of chilling, but it’s worth it.
MOLASSES-ORANGE COOKIES WITH ESPRESSO GLAZE RECIPE
(makes about 3 dozen)
3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup cane sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 large egg
1/4 cup molasses
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste (extract is fine)
1 2/3 cup whole wheat white or all-purpose flour
1/3 cup wheat germ*
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 heaping teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 heaping teaspoon ginger
1 1/2 teaspoons orange zest
1 3/4 tablespoons orange juice
Turnbinado sugar, for rolling
*I use wheat germ because it’s healthier and makes baked goods fluffier, but if you have it or don’t want to buy it, just substitute the exact same amount of flour.
1/2 cup powdered sugar, sifted
1 1/2 tablespoons espresso powder mixed with 2 tablespoons hot water
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 teaspoons 1% milk (whole milk and 2% are both fine, but I’d avoid skim)
Zest and juice one regular-sized orange.
Using a stand mixer, beat butter and sugars on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add egg and beat again. Beat in the molasses and vanilla.
Separately, whisk together the flour and wheat germ (or just flour, if you’re skipping the germ), baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and ginger.
Pour half the flour mixture into the stand mixer bowl and beat on medium-high speed until incorporated. Add the rest and beat again. Add the orange zest and juice and beat one more time, tasting the batter to make sure all the flavors are present; you can play with this if you like.
Chill the dough for 30-60 minutes. If you only chill for 30, you’ll want to chill the dough between batches to keep it ready to work with.
Using a cookie scoop to keep portions even, roll the dough into balls and then roll the balls in turbinado sugar. Place them a few inches apart on a parchment-lined cookie sheet, as they will spread. Silicone baking mats are great too.
Bake for 7-10 minutes, taking them out when you can push the side of a cookie with your finger and it more or less keeps its shape. Give them another five minutes on the baking sheet once they’re out, then move them to a wire rack to cool.
To make the glaze, sift the powdered sugar, then add the espresso and water mixture and vanilla. Whisk. Add in the milk, one teaspoon at a time, until you like the consistency. It will taste strong, but don’t worry, it settles in nicely with the cookie flavors.
Once the cookies are cool, put a sheet of parchment or wax paper underneath your cookie rack to catch the drips, then drizzle the glaze back & forth across each cookie using a teaspoon.
These cookies taste good fresh, but if you can wait until the next day they will be perfect.
A transplanted Canadian living in New York, Laurie Ulster is a freelance writer and a TV producer who somehow survived her very confusing adolescence as the lone female Star Trek fan in middle school. She writes about pop culture, lifestyle topics, feminism, food, and other topics for print, digital, podcasts, and TV.