When we were kids my Mom baked a lot and experimented with different recipes. As far back as I can remember these cookies were a special treat from Mom. Whenever she made them, they always warmed our souls and made our troubles go away. The cookies had a way of making us forget about that skinned knee, or a bad day at school. And as an adult the smells wafting from the kitchen let you know that Mom’s in the house when she comes for a visit. Even today Orange Drop Cookies are a special family tradition and still just as cherished, especially when Mom makes them. I love the soft texture of the cookie along with the bright flavors from the fresh orange juice and orange zest in the dough and icing. I’m usually not a big fan of citrus-based cookies because I prefer chocolate, but these cookies hold a soft spot in my heart. They have become synonymous with Mom’s love.
Mom’s not sure where the recipe came from and thinks it was from their long-ago friends, Bob and Ginny, from Boston. Usually you see lemon used in cookie recipes but I like this one because they have a fresh citrus taste from the orange and the zest. I have attempted to lighten up the recipe by substituting the shortening with butter and even coconut oil but they weren’t the same, with messy results. I decided to leave the recipe as-is and not mess with it, leaving all the warm and fuzzy memories intact. They are called “drop” cookies because you drop an imperfect scoop from the spoon onto the sheet pan. They flatten a bit and get some puff in the middle for a cake-like texture when cooked. While the cookies are still warm, the icing gets drizzled over the top and adds a perfect burst of sweet flavor.
I can’t leave you hanging without a chocolate recipe as well from Mom. She makes the best chocolate pudding from scratch. Check out my post about another childhood food memory: Mom’s Chocolate Pudding and Sci-Fi.
One note about my Orange Drop Cookies – at this altitude they refuse to puff up like Mom’s. They still taste the same but I haven’t been able to replicate the look up here. Oh well……Have a safe and relaxing Labor Day Weekend.
Eat well and share the love!
Mom’s Orange Drop Cookies
Recipe: Melissa Schenker/Foodie for Two
Makes 10 to 12 cookies 350 degrees F
1 1/8 cups flour, sifted
1/8 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ cup shortening
½ cup sugar
1 large egg
½ teaspoon orange zest
1 tablespoon fresh orange juice
¼ cup buttermilk (¼ cup milk, ¼ teaspoon white or apple cider vinegar)
2/3 cup powdered sugar, sifted
1/4 teaspoon orange zest
1 tablespoon fresh orange juice
Line two sheet pans with parchment paper and heat oven to 350 degrees F. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, salt, baking soda and baking powder; set aside.
In a medium bowl, mix the shortening and sugar with a hand-mixer on low until well blended. Add the egg and mix well. Add the remaining ingredients, including the flour mixture, and mix on low until well incorporated, about 30 seconds.
Drop by spoon full (about 2 tablespoons) on sheet pans, spacing about 2 inches apart. Bake 12 to 15 minutes until golden brown, turning pan around halfway through cooking time. While cookies are baking, prepare the icing.
Add the powdered sugar to a small bowl. Add the orange juice and the zest and mix well with a fork until glossy.
When the cookies are done, transfer them to a cooling rack over a sheet pan. Let cool a few minutes and add a generous 1/2 teaspoon of icing per cookie. Spread with a mini offset spatula or butter knife.