Based on Jean Anderson’s Almond-Orange Icebox Cookies
Happy New Year everyone! After baking six different types of cookies along with a couple of cakes for Christmas, I decided to take a little break from baking, to work off those added holiday pounds. Although now another holiday is upon us…St. Patrick’s Day. Growing up, we never really celebrated St. Patrick’s Day as a holiday, but as my grandmother’s birthday. What are the odds that both my maternal grandparents would be born on holidays? (Grandpa was born on Christmas Day.) While this isn’t specifically a St. Patrick’s Day Cookie, it is part of the Ladies Home Journal – The Cookie Book ’81, which was part of my mother’s Christmas Cookie repertoire.
What is an icebox cookie? It is basically any cookie dough that is formed into a log and frozen or chilled for several hours, then sliced before baking. Think Nestle’s or Pillsbury pre-made cookie dough. So actually, you can make almost any cookie into an icebox cookie. Also, any cookie dough you want to hold it’s form and not spread as much, should actually be chilled before baking.
The basic icebox cookie is flour, salt, baking soda, shortening or butter, granulated and brown sugar, and egg. Most tend to then add some sort of fruit and nut to it. One of the most popular combinations with my family was candied cherry and pecan. Unfortunately, this not being the holiday season, it’s very difficult to find candied cherries in Los Angeles, so I chose to make this citrus version.
One of the first things you want to do when prepping your ingredients is to toast your nuts. You can do this either on the stove top or in the oven, and it only takes about 5 to 10 minutes, until you smell the nuts making sure they are lightly toasted. You can use either butter or shortening for this recipe or a combination of the two. I used shortening, simply because I had more of that on hand. Once you cream together the sugars and shortening, add the juice, zest and egg, along with a tablespoon of Cointreau.
Once you add your dry ingredients, you may find that the dough may be a little dry and won’t come completely together. If this is the case, you will want to add either additional Cointreau, juice or water a tablespoon at a time until you no longer have dry bits hugging the bottom of the bowl. Lay out a sheet of plastic wrap or parchment paper and scoop the dough onto it. You may want to split the dough into two separate pieces to make it easier to chill the dough in your refrigerator or freezer. The dough should be chilled for a minimum of three hours. If you are able to work with the dough in that short time, place the dough in the freezer. If like me, you made your dough late at night and wouldn’t be baking it until the next morning, you can chill the dough in the refrigerator.
Once the dough is chilled, you can slice the dough. You will want to use a very sharp knife or a serrated knife, because you will need to cut through the nuts. When you cut the dough, the end slices will be slightly smaller than the rest. I usually take the end slices and the bits that fall off as I slice the remainder of the log, and at the end form it into another cookie, so none of it goes to waste.
Pecan-Orange Icebox Cookies
Credit: Jean Anderson’s Almond-Orange Icebox Cookies
- 2-3/4 cups all purpose flour
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp baking soda
- 1 cup vegetable shortening
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
- 2 tbls orange juice
- zest from orange
- 1 egg
- 1/2 cup pecans, chopped
- 1-4 tbls Cointreau
- Sift together flour, baking soda and salt and set aside.
- Toast pecans on stove top or in oven until just become fragrant.
- Cream together shortening, sugar and light brown sugar until fluffy.
- Add orange juice, zest from entire orange, 1 tbl Cointreau and egg and beat well.
- Gradually add in flour mixture.
- Add toasted pecans.
- If dough is too dry, add additional Cointreau a tablespoon at a time, until dough comes together.
- Place dough on plastic wrap or parchment and form 1-2 logs of dough, 1-2 inches in diameter.
- Chill dough for several hours in freezer or overnight in refrigerator until firm.
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
- Line cookie sheets with parchment paper or silpat.
- Slice dough coins with a very sharp knife 1/4 inches thick and place on cookie sheet about 1 inch apart.
- Bake 8-10 minutes until lightly brown around the edges.
- Replace pecans with walnuts, almonds or macadamia nuts.
- Replace orange zest and juice with lemon or lime zest and juice.
- Replace Cointreau with Creme de Cacao, for a orange-chocolate flavor.
- Replace Cointreau with additional juice or water.