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Orange, spices update a classic cookie

Recipe: Cardamom and turmeric surprising ingredients

Orange olive-oil cookies
These spiced sugar cookies, loaded with orange zest, brighten up a gray day.
(Photos: Kathy Morrison)

Wet, gray, cold -- sounds like perfect cookie-baking weather. And a couple of large oranges self-harvested from my little Washington navel tree. They're not at their ripest, but the zest is definitely usable.

So I found a new winter cookie  among the group of recipes that King Arthur Flour released this year, a collection dubbed "The New Classics." A sugar cookie is about as classic as you can get, and this zesty version is a winner -- and very pretty. It's more likely to appeal to adults than kids, and would go especially well with a good cup of tea.

The cardamom and turmeric are less-common spices in baking but they shine here. Substitute allspice for the cardamom if you're not a fan, but the turmeric is essential for the cookies' delightful color.

Orange,  olive oil and spice containers
The flavor group: an orange, olive oil and spices.
Olive Oil-Orange Sugar Cookies

Makes about 30 cookies

Ingredients:

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened but not melty

1/2 cup confectioners' sugar, sifted if lumpy

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup good-quality olive oil

Zest of 1 large or 2 small oranges

1 large egg

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon turmeric

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom (or allspice)

Sugar, orange zest and spices
Orange zest and spices also enhance the sugar coating.

1/8 teaspoon baking soda

3/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

Coating:

1/2 cup granulated sugar or sanding sugar

1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom (or allspice)

1/4 teaspoon turmeric

Zest of 1 large or 2 small oranges

Instructions:

Cream the butter with the sugars. Add the olive oil and zest and combine thoroughly. Stir in the egg, vanilla and spices until mixture is smooth.

Stir in the baking soda, baking powder, salt and flour, mixing until smooth.

Cover the bowl and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight.

When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees, and line baking sheets with parchment paper. (Alternatively, lightly grease the baking pans.)

Make the coating by combining all the ingredients in a small bowl. Scoop the dough by tablespoons  (a cookie scoop is ideal) and roll into balls, then roll the balls in the sugar coating.

Dough balls and a green bowl of zest-sugar coating
The zest makes the coating a bit thicker, but it doesn't seem
that way once baked.
Place the balls on the parchment paper about 1-1/2 inches apart.

Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, until the edges just are starting to brown. Let them cool on the pan on a cooling rack for about 10 minutes before removing to cool completely.

Make-ahead note: The balls of dough, without the sugar coating, can be frozen. When ready to bake, make the coating and roll the frozen dough in it; no need to defrost, but allow a little extra time for baking.


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RECIPE

A recipe for preparing delicious meals from the bounty of the garden.

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Dig In: Garden checklist for week of Oct. 2

Plan to make the most of the mild weather in your garden.

* October is the best month to plant trees and shrubs.

* October also is the best time to plant perennials in our area. Add a little well-aged compost and bone meal to planting holes or beds, but hold off on other fertilizers until spring. Keep the transplants well-watered (but not wet) for the first month as they become settled.

* Now is the time to plant seeds for many flowers directly into the garden, including cornflower, nasturtium, nigella, poppy, portulaca, sweet pea and stock.

* Plant seeds for radishes, bok choy, mustard, spinach and peas.

* Plant garlic and onions.

* Set out cool-weather bedding plants, including calendula, pansy, snapdragon, primrose and viola.

* Reseed and feed the lawn. Work on bare spots.

* Dig up corms and tubers of gladioluses, dahlias and tuberous begonias after the foliage dies. Clean and store in a cool, dry place.

* Treat azaleas, gardenias and camellias with chelated iron if leaves are yellowing between the veins.

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