Not your traditional Valentines cookie, but what a Sweet Heart of a Cookie!!!
These Orange Cranberry Pecan cookies are a citrus sweet delight with the orange zest and cranberry combination.
Normally, I would highlight the strips that the two flavored doughs make by cutting them out in squares, but since Valentines Day is just about a month away, I thought these little sweet heart of a cookie should be cut into a heart shape.
What will the cookies look like if not cut out with a cookie cutter?
This picture below shows the strips of the cookies well. You can see the definition of the cranberry and orange layers in the cookie. I would recommend to cut them into squares if you choose not to use a cookie cutter for a specific shape.
Do I use Fresh or Dried Cranberries?
You can use either fresh, dried, or frozen cranberries in this recipe. If the cranberries have been frozen, they will need to be completely thawed out.
I elected to use dried cranberries that I had left over from making a fruitcake. Dried cranberries are easier to chop than fresh. Check out my Christmas Fruitcake recipe if you are a fan of a fruit filled cake.
What kind of Orange is used for the Zest?
The rind of the orange is used to add the wonderful orange flavor to the cookie dough. Select an orange that does not have a waxy rhine and an orange that is fragrant.
The oranges that I used were from my neighbors tree, so I do not know the variety of the orange. It is a wonderfully sweet and fragrant orange with a thin skin.
How to Zest an Orange
I love to use a microplane box for zesting fruit and grating cheese. There are a variety of sizes that you can grate from very fine to chunky. Another big plus is that the grated food is contained within the box. Of course a microplane box is not required. I busted wanted to share what I like to use.
How much of the rind should be removed and used as zest?
When zesting an orange, you are removing just the outside layer of the rind. You do not want the white fleshy of the orange skin. Many times, that part is bitter.
Orange Cranberry Pecan Cookies
- 1 cup soften unsalted butter
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 egg at room temperature
- 2 Tablespoons milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 3 cups flour
- 2 teaspoons orange zest
- 1/2 cup cranberries
- 1/4 cup pecans
- optional red food coloring
Glaze for Cookies:
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 1-2 Tablespoons fresh squeezed orange juice
- Add butter and sugar to a stand mixer and beat for 8-10 minutes until the mixture is pale in color, fluffy,and completely blended. The sides of the mixing bowl will need to scraped down on a couple of occassions to ensure all the butter and sugar is well blended.
- Add in the egg, milk and vanilla and mix well.
- Add the baking powder followed by the flour slowly to the mixture.Mix well.
- The quanity of the dough should be slightly over 3 cups.
- Place a generous cup ( one cup) of dough into a bowl and add in the orange zest. Mix the orange zest well into the dough.
- Add the cranberries, pecans into the remaining dough in the stand mixer bowl. Mix contents well. Add red food coloring to the dough to your preferred color.
- Remove the red cranberry dough from the mixer and divide it in half
- Line a loaf pan with parchment paper. Place one portion of the red cranberry dough into the pan and press it down by hand. Ensure that the dough is spread out to cover the bottom of the loaf pan.
- Place the orange dough on top of the red cranberry dough and spread out. Top off with the remaining red cranberry dough.
- Cover the loaf pan and refrigerate until the dough sets and becomes firm.
- After about 30 minutes the dough should be set well enough to roll out if you are planning on using a cookie cutter.
- Remove the dough from the pan lifting up on the parchment paper. Transfer the dough to your working area. Cut the loaf of dough in half lengthwise.
- slice the dough into about 1/4 inch pieces if planning on baking the cookies as squares.
- If a cookie cutter is going to be used to cut out a heart shape ( or any other shape), slice the dough into 1/2 inch slices.
- Roll out the dough to about 1/4 inch to use your cookie cutter
- Place cookies onto a parachment lined cookie sheet and bake at 375 degrees for 8-10 minutes. Check at 8 minutes and continue to bake as needed until the edges of the cookies begin to brown.
- Cool on a wire rack until completely cooled before applying the glaze ( icing)
Preparing the Orange Glaze:
- Place powdered sugar into a bowl and slowly add the fresh squeezed orange juice one Tablespoon at a time. Add additional orange juice as needed to obtain the consisitency desired.
- Add glaze to cookies and allow them to sit and dry before storing.
- Store cookies in an airtight container
Give these cookies a try and let me know what you think. They are truly a sweet heart of a cookie great for any occasion.