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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


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


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


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


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Dig In: Garden checklist for week of Jan. 29

Bundle up and get work done!

* Prune, prune, prune. Now is the time to cut back most deciduous trees and shrubs. The exceptions are spring-flowering shrubs such as lilacs.

* Now is the time to prune fruit trees, except apricot and cherry trees. Clean up leaves and debris around the trees to prevent the spread of disease.

* Prune roses, even if they’re still trying to bloom or sprouting new growth. Strip off any remaining leaves, so the bush will be able to put out new growth in early spring.

* Prune Christmas camellias (Camellia sasanqua), the early-flowering varieties, after their bloom. They don’t need much, but selective pruning can promote bushiness, upright growth and more bloom next winter. Feed with an acid-type fertilizer. But don’t feed your Japonica camellias until after they finish blooming next month. Feeding while camellias are in bloom may cause them to drop unopened buds.

* Clean up leaves and debris around your newly pruned roses and shrubs. Put down fresh mulch or bark to keep roots cozy.

* Apply horticultural oil to fruit trees to control scale, mites and aphids. Oils need 24 hours of dry weather after application to be effective.

* This is also the time to spray a copper-based oil to peach and nectarine trees to fight leaf curl. Avoid spraying on windy days.

* Divide daylilies, Shasta daisies and other perennials.

* Cut back and divide chrysanthemums.

* Plant bare-root roses, trees and shrubs.

* Transplant pansies, violas, calendulas, English daisies, snapdragons and fairy primroses.

* In the vegetable garden, plant fava beans, head lettuce, mustard, onion sets, radicchio and radishes.

* Plant bare-root asparagus and root divisions of rhubarb.

* In the bulb department, plant callas, anemones, ranunculus and gladiolus for bloom from late spring into summer.

* Plant blooming azaleas, camellias and rhododendrons. If you’re shopping for these beautiful landscape plants, you can now find them in full flower at local nurseries.

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