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Frosted orange crispies

Frosted orange crispies
Bob Chamberlin / Los Angeles Times

Beyond the colorful decorations and after the initial rush of sugar, holiday cookies are about memories, tradition and sharing with those close to us. Be they humble or ornate, our baked goods are used to celebrate and give thanks — thanks for our childhoods, the blessings of family and friends and the magic that can be found only this time of year.

This fall, we again asked L.A. Times readers to share their special cookie recipes with us for our fourth annual Holiday Cookie Bake-Off and then to help us narrow down their favorites to the top 50.

We received more than 250 submissions, and more than 3,700 votes were cast. We took the top vote-getters to Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Pasadena, where students spent one Saturday morning baking batches of cookies. L.A. Times Food Editor Russ Parsons, Deputy Food Editor Betty Hallock and Times Test Kitchen Director Noelle Carter joined KCRW's "Good Food" host, Evan Kleiman, to taste and test each cookie, narrowing it to our 10 favorites.

Earlier this week, the L.A. Times Test Kitchen was jammed with happy bakers and their helpers for this year's photo shoot. Amazing cookies, memories and traditions were shared. The Czechoslovakian nut bars bring back memories of a finalist's Slovak heritage. The holiday crescent cookies bring sisters together one afternoon each year to bake in their mother's honor. The frosted orange crispies were given to a finalist years ago by a military wife; she would serve her cookies on a silver tray at the officers club. The candy cane chocolate mandel bread is a merging of holidays for one family, Hanukkah and Christmas honored together.

As much as holiday cookies might keep memories and tradition alive, they also help to share memories and traditions with new friends in new places. One family is known far and wide for its chocolate peppermint snaps: "Everywhere we have lived — Madrid, Nairobi, Suva, SoCal — we've given these cookies as Christmas gifts to friends."

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Total time: 40 minutes, plus cooling time | Makes about 2 dozen cookies
Note: "This recipe was given to me by a military wife many years ago. It was her signature cookie that she'd take to the officers club when the wives met. She knew it was her best recipe because, regardless of the occasion, they were always the first ones to go." — Penny Haselmo

Cookies

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons orange extract
  • 1 1/2 generous cups (7¾ ounces) flour, sifted
  • 1/2 cup shredded sweetened coconut
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Step 1Heat the oven to 375 degrees. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or in a large bowl using a hand mixer, cream the butter and shortening. Add the salt and sugar, and continue to beat until the mixture is light and fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the egg and beat well. Beat in the orange extract, then the flour. Mix in the coconut and chopped nuts by hand.

Step 2Drop rounded tablespoonfuls of dough onto an ungreased cookie sheet, spacing the cookies 2 inches apart. Bake until the edges are lightly browned, 10 to 14 minutes, rotating the cookies halfway through for even baking.

Step 3Cool the cookies on the pan for 1 minute before removing. Sprinkle with sugar and set aside to cool completely before frosting.

Orange-lemon frosting

  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar, sifted, more as needed
  • 3 tablespoons fresh orange juice
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • Grated lemon zest

Step 1In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or in a large bowl using a hand mixer, slowly beat the butter into the powdered sugar. Beat in the orange juice, then the lemon juice, along with the lemon zest. Beat in additional powdered sugar, a tablespoon at a time, to thicken the frosting to achieve the desired consistency. This makes about three-fourths cup frosting.

Calories 206; Protein 2 grams; Carbohydrates 24 grams; Fiber 1 gram; Fat 12 grams; Saturated fat 5 grams; Cholesterol 20 mg; Sugar 17 grams; Sodium 58 mg
Found a problem? Let us know at cookbook@latimes.com
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