Blood Orange Sugar Cookies
Thick and chewy sugar cookies with a citrus flare. These drop sugar cookies are topped blood orange butter cream frosting for citrus season. #sugarcookie #swigcookie #chewycookies
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I've really been enjoying creating recipes centered around citrus fruit this season. Specifically blood oranges. Blood oranges are a little tart, sweet and packed with the prettiest deep red hue. When used in bakes it makes this pretty pink color that is sure to put a smile on anyone's face. Because if there is ever a reason to bake, it's to make us happy.
" Baking is done out of love, To share with family and friends, to see them smile." - Anna Olson
Hi friends! Welcome to March and thank goodness its finally here. We got 24" of snow in the past three days and more is supposed to be coming our way this week. While winter and snow has its perks, I am *ready* for sunshine and warmer weather. But in the meantime I will reap the rewards of citrus season and continue on baking with yummy blood oranges. These blood orange sugar cookies are a two part series. I couldn't decide if I like the soft and chewy cookies or the thin and buttery cookies more. So I will be sharing both starting with these soft and chewy drop sugar cookies. YUM.
If you have been following along with me, you know that I believe desserts should be decadent and delicious but most of all, easy. While I am all for cut out sugar cookies, the time and maintenance they take is just not for me. So easy, drop sugar cookies it is. I love that you can simply add different flavor extracts to get a whole new cookie. That is exactly what I did here.
Citrus fruit is full of flavor in various forms. For many recipes, zest is added to bring in a stronger citrus flavor. But lets take that a step further for even more flavor. The best way to extract that flavor is to rub the zest into sugar. This helps to extract the natural oils from the fruits skin giving a stronger citrusy flavor.
You can also get flavor from the juice and the pulp. But because I didn't want to play with the water content too much on this cookie only the zest was used for the dough.
The cookie is a pretty typical sugar cookie, using butter and granulated sugar for the base of the dough. However, I really wanted this cookie to keep a chewy consistency and have a soft center. Sometimes Crisco can be added to achieve this texture but I decided to go with cream cheese. I like the way the tangy-ness of the cream cheese plays with the tangy-ness of the blood orange zest. These flavors together with the cookie base and the sweet blood orange butter cream make it well balanced fighting off that overly sweet cookie.
In my opinion, a dessert should have layers of flavor. When opposite flavors are mixed together (like salty/sweet, sour/sweet or tangy/sweet) your taste buds have something to be excited about. It tells your brain to think harder about what you are eating. Making it an experience rather than just a one note sweet treat.
These soft and chewy sugar cookies do just that. Now, I knew that the butter cream would be tricky. I wanted to incorporate the blood orange juice to get that pretty pink color, but also to balance flavor. However, cream (or butter) and citrus need to be persuaded to work well with each other. I ended up breaking the butter cream by adding too much blood orange juice. Luckily my mother in law was around and helped talk me through how to bring it back together. I ended up adding much more powdered sugar to the mix and it made a smooth paste. Because there was so much liquid, with the heavy cream and blood orange juice combined, adding more than usual amount of powdered sugar was necessary. It was sweet but did not over take the citrus taste.
Lets talk ingredients. Fresh ingredients really make a huge difference in taste and texture of a bake as well. I like to shop at Harmons Grocery. If you are in Utah, it is a great place to find local grown produce. Their determination to support local farmers and orchards is what brings me back each time.
Recently, I had a conversation on why a cookie, or cake would fail? While there are many reasons and factors, one that is often overlooked is the age of your ingredients. Flour, baking powder, baking soda and even salt can age out creating difficulties in the way things bake.
If flour is too old it can require more moisture than it normally would. Making a cookie to go flat or a cake to sink. Not to mention the taste of old flour is not ideal. So be sure that you are checking the expiration dates there . I also like to store my flour and sugars in an air tight container. This preserves it longer and keeps it safe from the elements. These are the storage containers I use, and love.
Okay, last cookie tip. When I was little my mom taught me to scoop out the cookie dough using two dinner ware spoons. One was for scooping out the dough and the other was for shaping the dough/pulling the dough off the first spoon. Then at one point, probably while I was in my teen years (I'm turning 33 this year), she started using an ice cream scoop. You know the spring loaded ones. Now, everywhere you look people claim this technique as if it is some new trick. If it is new to you I am here to tell you it is the only way to scoop out beautifully uniform cookies. You can look up cookie scooper on amazon to find what you like. There are my favorite scoops (1.5 oz , 3 oz). I have had them for years and they have held up against even the thickest dough.
Overall these cookies are very simple, very delicious and very happy. So let's get the the recipe so you can enjoy them as well.
Blood Orange Sugar Cookies
1/2 c room temp butter
2 oz very soft cream cheese
3/4 c granulated sugar
2 TBSP blood orange zest
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
2 c King Arthur Flour
1/2 c granulated sugar + 1 TBSP bloog orange zest mixed together in a small bowl
For the Butter Cream Frosting:
4 TBSP room temp butter
1 TBSP blood orange juice
1 TBSP Heavy cream
1 c powdered sugar
1/8 tsp salt
Set oven temperature to 350 F (180 C) To a medium mixing bowl add sugar and blood orange zest. Rub the zest into the sugar using your finger tips. This is allowing the oils to release from the zest bringing a brighter, more citrusy flavor to the cookie. Next, add room temp butter and super soft cream cheese (I like to microwave mine for 15 seconds) Cream the butter, cream cheese and sugar together till smooth. Then add in the the salt, and baking powder mixing till combined. Add in your egg and again mix till smooth and fluffy. After the egg is added I ditch my whisk and grab a spatula to incorporate the flour. Once this is fully mixed in, grab your cookie scoop and scoop out 1.5 oz dough balls. Rolls the cookie dough into the extra granulated sugar and blood orange zest. Place 12 cookies on a cookie sheet, equally spaced apart. Grab a sturdy glass and press the cookie balls down to about 1/2 and inch thick. Bake in the oven at 350 F for 8-10 minutes. Allow to cool on the counter.
While the cookies are cooling make the buttercream. Start by adding soft butter to a medium bowl. Using an hand mixer beat on medium speed till smooth. Add in the powdered sugar and beat again till incorporated. Add in blood orange juice, heavy cream and salt. Mix for 5 minutes or till buttercream is a fluffy paste. Frost cookies and add a little blood orange zest for garnish. Serve and enjoy.