Studded with chunks of pecan and delicately flavoured with orange, my Orange Pecan Cookies are the chameleons of the cookie world. Delicate enough for afternoon tea with tea in china cups, but hearty enough to serve with a glass of milk, they make the perfect treat anytime.
A Recipe with a History
There’s a story behind my Orange Pecan Cookies. I’ve always loved baking. When I won the Art Award at primary school back in 1977 (which came with a small prize in the form of a bookstore gift certificate), I bought the Betty Crocker Cooky Book with it. (That is how they spelled cookie on the front cover, with a ‘y’.)
I remember choosing the book at The Provident Bookstore in Stanley Park Mall in Kitchener, Ontario. Most of our books came from the library so actually purchasing a book was pretty exciting. I’m not sure it was a book my art teacher would have had me to buy, but I was incredibly pleased with it. In fact, not only have I kept it all these years, I still cook from it. Of course the recipes are a little dated in some cases, so I do play around with them quite a bit, but it gives me a peculiar thrill to know that I am still baking from the very first cookbook I ever bought all those years ago.
These cookies are from a section near the back of the book called Cookies for A Crowd. Featuring “easy to make, easy to multiply” recipes, the writers of The Cooky Book assure us they are perfect for “food plans for large affairs, such as receptions, church luncheons and club meetings. If you have been asked to be responsible for baking cookies for such an affair, these ….are just what you are looking for”. I love the language they used back in the day!
Slice and Bake Orange Pecan Cookies
What I like most about these Orange Pecan Cookies is that they are slice and bake. You make the dough into large, sausage shaped ‘logs’ and put them in the fridge for a good few hours or overnight before slicing and baking them. They keep for at least 3 days in the fridge.
Bake from the Fridge or Freezer
You can freeze the dough logs and slice and bake the Orange Pecan Cookies from frozen. (You may need to allow the dough to soften just a bit before slicing.) This means you can have hot cookies fresh from the oven in less than 15 minutes.
Great For Last Minute Entertaining
Contrary to the ideas that the writers of ‘The Cooky Book’ had in mind, I use slice and bake cookies like this as ‘last minute cookies’. I keep them on hand for what I like to call “cookie emergencies”. You know, when guests turn up unannounced and you would like to offer them something to enjoy with a tea or coffee, or when someone has had a rough day and just plain needs a cookie!
There is a particular comfort to knowing you are never more than 15 minutes away from a fresh, hot cookie – or from having warm cookies ready to offer someone who really needs them!
Orange Pecan Cookies are wonderful served warm, but will keep in a sealed container for a day or so.
Whether you bake Orange Pecan Cookies for a crowd, or keep them on hand for cookie emergencies like I do, this recipe is likely to become one you reach for often. The ready to bake cookie rolls (with baking instructions attached) or a box of baked cookies also make fabulous foodie gifts any time of year.
Orange Pecan Cookies – Printable Recipe
- ½ cup softened butter (unsalted if possible)
- 1 cup packed brown sugar
- 1 egg
- 1 tablespoon grated orange rind
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1¾ cups all purpose (plain) flour
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon baking soda (bicarbonate of soda)
- ¾ cup chopped pecans
- Cream the butter and sugar together in a large bowl..
- Add the egg, and then the orange rind and vanilla. Set aside.
- Sift the flour, salt and baking soda into a medium bowl. Stir through the chopped pecans.
- Add the flour and pecan mixture to the creamed mixture and stir together very thoroughly.
- To form the dough into ‘logs’, take a large piece of waxed or greaseproof paper or baking parchment and sprinkle a little flour on it. Flour your hands a bit as well.
- Take half the cookie dough and put it in the centre of the paper.
- Using the paper to help you, shape the dough into a log about 11 to 12 inches (28 to 30 centimetres) long.
- Repeat with another piece of paper and the rest of the dough.
- Wrap the paper or baking parchment tightly round each log of dough.
- Place the cookie dough logs in a bag and put them the refrigerator for at least 6 hours or overnight.
- The next day, either freeze the dough, or bake it from chilled.
- When you want to bake the frozen or chilled dough, preheat the oven to 350℉ (about 160℃ for a fan oven).
- Remove the dough logs from the fridge or freezer. You might want to give the logs a bit of a roll on the counter before you open up the paper just to round the edges. Sometimes the bottom goes a bit flat when they sit in the fridge.
- If the logs are frozen leave them for five minutes or so before you attempt to slice them, unless you have very strong arms and a very sharp knife!
- Slice the cookie logs about one quarter inch thick (about half a centimetre) and place on baking sheets.
- These cookies don’t spread all that much, but be sure to space them at least an inch apart. Each log will make about 24 to 28 cookies depending on how thickly you slice them.
- Bake the cookies for 8 to 10 minutes from chilled (or 11 to 14 minutes from frozen) until they are lightly golden. It’s worth keeping an eye on them because they can suddenly brown up very fast.
- Remove the baking sheets from the oven and leave the cookies to cool on the baking sheets for at least five minutes.
- Then carefully remove the cookies from the baking sheets and cool on wire racks.