This is based on an old recipe my Mom made when she lived in Boston after college. According to her, it was one of the first recipes she and her roomies learned how to bake! At that point they flavored it with frozen oj concentrate, but since then Mom and I have graduated to using orange zest. I find that the texture is somewhere between cakey and chewy, and I love the great citrus flavor that is not overly sweet. Since chilling the dough is a key part of making this sugar cookie I find the best timeline for me is to make the dough during my daughter's afternoon naptime, let the dough chill all afternoon, then bake the cookies after she has gone to bed. —Kelsey Banfield
Test Kitchen Notes
I love these bright, fragrant orange cookies. The texture is cakey and soft (kind of like a delicious black and white cookie). They puff up a little bit to become nice airy cookies that are delicate enough to crumble in your mouth. They are a great cookie for when you just need a little something to get you through the day. - Stephanie —The Editors
Cream the butter and sugars together in a mixer until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time and mix, then add the orange zest and mix until incorporated.
In a separate bowl mix the flour, baking powder and salt. With the mixer on low, slowly add the flour mixture bit by bit until it is just incorporated and dough comes together. Wrap dough in plastic and chill for at least 6 hours. (Note: I've kept the dough in the fridge for up to 18 hours before baking and the cookies have turned out just fine!)
Meanwhile, make the orange sugar: Place 1 T. zest and 1/3 c. sugar in the mini-chopper or cuisinart and give it a few pulses until the zest and sugar are finely ground and completely incorporated. (Note: You will notice when this happens because there is a burst of orange fragrance in your kitchen as the oils are released!)
Once the dough has chilled, preheat the oven to 375ºF. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or a silpat. Flour a work surface and a rolling pin, roll the dough to 1/4" thickness. Using a 2" round cookie cutter and place cookies onto baking sheets. (Note: I prefer the cookie cutter method to rolling the dough because I think this way yields a lighter cookie, while rolling dough produces a tougher cookie.) Sprinkle each cookie with an even dusting of orange sugar.
Bake for 9-11 minutes, or until center of cookie is set and the top is very lightly golden brown. Do not overbake, or chewiness factor will fade! Cool on a wire rack and serve. (Use any leftover orange sugar for sweetening iced tea!)
Home cook, food blogger, cookbook author, wine lover, avid traveler, and mother of two young children. Check out my books: The Naptime Chef: Fitting Great Food into Family Life (2012), and The Family Calendar Cookbook: From Birthdays to Bake Sales, Good Food to Carry You Through the Year (2015), Running Press.