Aunt Sallie’s Orange Cookies

As it tends to do, med school fully took over my life these past couple of weeks. I’ve been meaning to write this post for too long, and I’m happy to be back!

This orange cookie is one of my dad’s signature treats and a must-bake during the holidays. (Or any other time of the year when he and my brother are craving them.) As you can tell from our previous recipes, we really do have a abundance of citrus around the house during the winter months! Spring better be on its way because we’re using up the last of our winter citrus to make Aunt Sallie’s orange cookies:)

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This light and fluffy cookie is smothered with a sweet, yet tangy icing. To make sure the orange flavor comes through, the cookie and icing contain both orange juice and zest. We’re not messin’ around here! At family gatherings and celebrations, these beauties are loved (and expected) by aunts and cousins on both sides of the family.

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We’ve always attributed these cookies to my mom’s Aunt Sallie, but it wasn’t until I sat down to write this blog post that I asked my mom and dad to tell me the origin of this familiar cookie.

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Aunt Sallie’s given name was Sarah (like me!), but she was known to everyone as Sallie.  According to my mom, even though she didn’t have any kids, Sallie was quite the domestic – always baking and cooking for family and friends.

When my mom and dad got engaged, Aunt Sallie presented my mom with the cutest bridal shower gift! She gave her a recipe box filled with her signature dishes and sweet treats. At some point, my dad started making these cookies, and the rest is history:) My mom still has the box and actually found the original orange cookie recipe card!

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I love that my mom has kept these original recipes for over 30 years. It’s such a beautiful story, and we are all very glad this cookie came into our lives! I hope it would make my great-Aunt Sallie proud to know that her orange cookies are being passed down and enjoyed through the generations:)

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Aunt Sallie’s Orange Cookies
  • 1/2 cup butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • zest of 3 oranges, separated into two equal portions
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Preheat your oven to 400F. Zest the rind of 3 oranges. I prefer to use a zester to create long strips and then chop up the strands (rather than grating the oranges on a box grater). This method gives you slightly larger bits of orange rind in the cookies and more orange flavor in each bite to kick it up a notch!

Beat the butter and sugar in your mixer until well combined.  Add in the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Add in slightly less than half the orange zest (saving the rest for the icing – as I like to have more zest in the sweet topping) to the butter mixture.  Add in the remaining ingredients and mix.

Note:  Aunt Sallie used to also add a half cup of chopped walnuts to the batter – your call.

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Drop the dough in about 1″ balls onto a greased cookie sheet.  Bake 5 to 8 minutes at 400 F until brown around the edges and the middle is no longer shiny.  Cool on racks for 30 to 60 minutes.

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  • 1 1/4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons orange juice
  • the remainder (about half) of the orange rind

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To make the icing, mix the sugar with the orange rind and add the juice until the mixture is the consistency of thick molasses.  Once the cookies are cool, I like to use a spoon to spread the icing on the cookies.  It will spread out just a little bit and develop a nice gloss after a few minutes.

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These cookies do exceptionally well in the freezer.  I have found that a piece of wax paper between layers prevents the icing from sticking to the bottom of the cookie above.

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