Orange Gingerbread Cookies

Pin It DLD: Orange Gingerbread Cookies

Christmas time is a wonderful time. A wonderful time of the year.
Filled with smiles and laughter and fun all around.
With cakes, pies, and cookies your joy will abound.
Gingerbread cottages sparkle with snow,
Yet their fate is to wait til in the garbage they go.
Why not instead, with joy and with glee,
Make a gingerbread cookie? It's easy you'll see.
All you need is some time—and an orange or two—
And then for Christmas treat fixes, your friends will come to you.

I really do love gingerbread. I apparently like it so much that I wrote a (really bad) poem about it. What I don't like are hard "gingerbread" crackers over-flavored with cloves and allspice whose sole reason for existance is to be turned into amateur building material.

Pepparkakshus" by PatríciaR - Own work. Licensed under GFDL via Wikimedia Commons

This is very pretty indeed, but I don't think that anyone would ever want to eat something that was used as building material, even if royal icing hadn't been used as both mortar and decoration.

What is the alternative? Well, "luckily" bakery mix suppliers have come to the "rescue".

Pillsbury gingerbread cookie & cake mix Betty Crocker gingerbread cookie & cake mix Krusteez gingerbread cookie mix

What is the problem with this, you ask? Well, to be honest, there isn't a whole lot wrong with these, other than the fact that they are primarily intended as cake mixes. The cookies they make would probably be edible, and you problably couldn't use them for building houses for elf-making shoes. But they still have cloves or allspice in them, and I just don't like that.

So one day while I was pondering the sadness that is composed of clove-ridden gingerbread (why they call it gingerbread when all you can taste is the cloves and cinnamon anyway I will never undersand), I received a vision of deliciousness and my stomach was filled with the glory that...
Okay you got me. I didn't receive a vision. But I did have the thought that gingerbread is a really good winter flavor, and that orange is actually a really good winter flavor (isn't that when you find oranges in the grocery store), and what would happen if I put them together? This was the result.

This has since become one of my favorite cookies. It actually reminds me a lot of Nüremberger Lebkuchen, which I occasionally had when I lived in German-speaking Europe. The cookie isn't super sweet, which sets it a little apart from most American cookies, but it also means that the flavor isn't marred by cloying sweetness even though the cookie is glazed.

Nüremberger Lebkuchen

And, without further ado, here is my recipe for Glazed Orange Gingerbread Cookies.

Skip the tutorial and go straight to the recipe.

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Step 0

Preheat the oven to 350°. Line a few baking sheets with parchment paper if you want to make clean up easier later on.
Another good idea would be to set a wire cooling rack in a sheet pan for later. Remember, these cookies will be glazed, and the rack/pan assembly allows the excess glaze to drip off without getting the counter dirty.

Step 1:

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle (or other mixing bowl if you want to use a hand mixer), cream together 1 cup room temperature butter, 1 1/2 cups sugar, 1/4 cup molasses, 1 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp ginger, 1/4 tsp nutmeg, 1 tsp baking soda, and 3 Tbsp freshly grated orange zest.
The goal is to get the mixture completely homogeneous and airy, so kick the mixer up to medium or medium-high and beat the living daylights out of those ingredients for a few minutes.
I know that I am breaking from traditional cookie mixing methodology here by adding the spices and salt in with the fat and sugar, but this actually isn't a bad idea. The goal of creaming is not only to homogenize the ingredients, but also to lay the foundation for the leavening which will take place in the oven. When sugar is beat into plastic (malleable) fat, tiny air bubbles are introduced into the fat. These seed bubbles are what expand in the oven to leaven the cookie. Mixing the baking soda in during the creaming step further enables leavening.

Step 2:

Add 2 eggs, 1/2 cup water, and 1 tsp vanilla to the bowl and mix until completely combined.
The goal in this step is to create, by careful agitation, a moderately stable emulsion, or oil-water mixture. You see up to this point all of the ingredients have been mixed into fat, but now we are adding a lot of water. Fat and water do not become friends unless deftly encouraged, and even then, the process takes some time. We can shorten that time by making sure that all of the ingredients are the same temperature (room temperature), and by the addition of the emulsifier found in egg yolks (lecithin).
So wait until the mixture looks smooth and not curdled. Then you will know that you have a good emulsion.

Step 3:

Add 6 cups of flour and mix until fully combined, then mix for an additional minute.
Needless to say, start the mixer on slow and gradually increase speed if needed.
Another tip, after mixing in the flour, it wouldn't be a bad idea to let the dough rest for 15 minutes. There is a fair amount of liquid, and it will take a little while for the flour to absorb it all. Just cover the bowl with a towel or with some plastic while you are waiting.

Step 4

Deposit the dough onto your prepared baking sheets. For consistent baking, use a #24 disher, which will yield a 1 1/2 ounce cookie. If you don't have a disher (and you really should), you can use a 1/8 cup measuring cup. But trust me—a disher is easier.

Step 5

Bake the cookies in the preheated oven for 15 minutes (for the 1 1/2 ounce cookie size, less if your cookies are smaller).
Meanwhile, we shall prepare the glaze for the cookies.

Step 6:

In a medium sized microwave-safe bowl combine 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar, 2 Tbsp orange juice, and 1/4 cup hot water.
Use a spoon or spatula instead of a whisk to to combine the glaze ingredients to avoid introducing air bubbles. This will make for a smoother appearance.

Step 7:

When the cookies come out of the oven, allow them to cool for a few minutes on the pan, but don't let them cool completely—they need to still be warm when you glaze them or the glaze will be too thick.
Speaking of which, the glaze should be hot for glazing, so microwave the glaze until the temperature is around 120°F.

Step 8:

Dip the tops of the warm cookies in the hot glaze, and invert them onto the prepared cooling rack (so the glaze is on top of course). I would recommend waiting until the glaze dries before comsuming, but they can be eated right away if you have not developed patience. However, you must let the glaze dry completely before attempting to package them cookies in an airtight container for up to a week. Or you could bag them and freeze for up to 6 months.

As the cookies sit out, the glaze will change from clear/transluscent to cloudy white. This is completely normal, and is a result of the powdered sugar crystallizing. Personally, I like the appearance.

Orange Gingerbread CookiesYields: 48 cookies

Dough Ingredients
Glaze Ingredients
Dough Ingredients Glaze Ingredients

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line baking pans with parchment paper if desired. Set a cooling rack in a sheet pan to catch glaze drips.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter, sugar, molasses, salt, ginger, and nutmeg, baking soda, and orange zest until light and well combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as necessary.
  3. Add the eggs, water, and vanilla and mix until completely combined.
  4. Add the flour and mix until the flour is all combined. Mix an additional minute on medium speed.
  5. Use a #24 disher to scoop the dough onto the prepared cookie sheets. Bake the cookies for 15 minutes.
  6. While the cookies are baking prepare the glaze by stirring together the powdered sugar, orange juice, and hot water until completely smooth. Try to avoid creating bubbles for a smoother glaze.
  7. When the cookies come out of the oven, allow them to cool briefly on the sheet before dipping warm cookies in the warm glaze before transferring to the prepared rack to cool completely.
  8. Allow the glaze to dry completely before packing the cookies in an airtight container for up to a week. For long term storage place in a plastic bag and freeze for up to 6 months.

This recipe was printed from Dinner in the Life of a Dad (
Orange Gingerbread Cookies 48 Cookies Soft orange-scented gingerbread cookies with a delicate orange-flavored powdered sugar glaze. 1 cup Butter 1 1/2 cups Sugar 1/4 cup Molasses 1 Tbsp Salt 1/4 tsp Ginger 1/4 tsp Nutmeg 1 tsp Baking Soda 3 Tbsp fresh Orange Zest 2 Eggs 3/4 cup Water 1 tsp Vanilla 6 cups Flour 2 1/2 cups Powdered Sugar 2 Tbsp Orange Juice

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