Cookie Calendar: Iced Citrus Crackle Cookies


Today's Cookie Calendar pick comes from 2006's Food Network 12 Days of Cookies newsletter. Iced Citrus Crackle Cookies can cut through the the rich buttery and chocolaty cookies on your table this year with a sharp smack of lemon and orange.

Actually, the sourness is tempered by a hefty dose of sugar, both in the cookies and the glaze. While the recipe suggests dying said glaze to match the fruit that inspired the cookies, my five-year-old cousin decided blue and pink were better choices for us. And if that's what the family wants, why stand in the way?


As I have with almost every batch of cookies I've made so far this season, I went looking for helpers among the many children running through my grandparents' house daily. My three-year-old cousin signed on right away, but we saw two friend helpers fall through before a slightly older and braver kid from the baby-sitting group downstairs managed to make it through the whole dough-making session.

I decided to keep my two very enthusiastic helpers around for the scooping of dough onto the cookie sheets. I let each one try to make an even scoop of dough using my tablespoon disher, but they struggled with filling it, leveling it, and squeezing it out, so I scaled back. I filled the cookie scoop myself and then gave it to each kid in turn to dish out onto the cookie sheet. They then caught on quickly with this task, easily manipulating the handle after a few tries. Moreover, without prompting, they started trying to perfect their scooping technique by aiming to drop each ball where it was supposed to end up on the sheet.

Ah, so proud.

Dishing the dough turned into a mathematics teachable moment as well when the kids got wrapped up in counting how many cookies there were after each ball dropped. Cousin A is in his first year of preschool, so our focus had to be mostly on proper counting technique (so he wouldn't count cookies twice), but I did attempt to get them thinking about adding, too ("If we have eight cookies, and A adds one more to the sheet, how many will we have then?").


Cousin A loves lemon almost as much as mint apparently. He enjoyed his miniscule dab of raw dough as well as one and a half finished glazed cookies. Cousin B licked the glaze off his fingers but turned finicky at the prospect of taking a bite from the cookie. Methinks he was too shy.

I did alter the recipe a bit. I used clementine zest in the cookie dough, but I used a full teaspoon of lemon extract rather than orange. I didn't have any orange extract, and besides, there's a lot of lemon lovers in the family. I substituted about a teaspoon of lemon extract for the zest in the frosting (I didn't bring a rasp grater with me, and getting zest any other way is a pain). I also replaced the sanding sugar with granulated sugar and a few drops of food coloring. Finally, I dipped each cookie twice, as there was a ton of glaze.


My cookies didn't end up flat like the ones in the picture. I didn't expect them to, as the recipe calls for freezing the rounded mounds at least 30 minutes prior to baking, then popping them straight in the oven. Beats me how the ones in the picture turned out flat.

My comments in [brackets].

citrus-crackles02.jpgIced Citrus Crackle Cookies
Source: Food Network Kitchens
Yield: 2 dozen cookies [I had 27 . . . then 25 . . . then 22 . . . then 20 . . .]

3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 tablespoon finely grated citrus zest (Meyer or regular lemon, tangerine or lime)
2 large egg yolks, room temperature
3/4 teaspoon lemon extract (or use all orange extract for tangerine cookies)
1/4 teaspoon orange extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon fine salt

1 cup confectioners' sugar, sifted
2 tablespoons colored sanding sugar (yellow, orange or green, depending on the flavor of the cookie)
2 to 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed citrus juice (the same flavor of the cookie)

1. Evenly space the oven racks in the oven and preheat to 375 degrees F. on the convection setting, if available. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone mats.

2. Beat the butter in a medium bowl with an electric mixer on medium-high heat until smooth. Add the sugar and citrus zest and continue to beat until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. (The creaming is important to get a great texture so don't skimp here.) Add the yolks, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the extracts.

3. Whisk the flour, baking soda and salt together in a bowl. Stir the dry ingredients into the wet mixture, mixing at low speed to make a soft dough.

4. Scoop the dough into rounded heaping tablespoons with a cookie scoop or measuring spoon. Space the cookies about 2-inches apart on the prepared pans. Freeze for at least 30 minutes. (The cookies can be frozen for up to 1 month.)

5. Bake the cookies, straight from the freezer, until edges are firm and bottoms are lightly browned, 15 to 17 minutes. Transfer to a rack to cool.

6. For icing: Mix the confectioners' sugar, colored sugar and appropriate flavored zest in a medium bowl. Add the citrus juice and mix with an electric mixer to make a firm but pourable icing. (If needed, add up to 1 teaspoon more juice, but keep in mind that if the icing is too loose it won't set.) Dip the rounded side of the cooled cookies into the icing; then let the excess icing fall back into the bowl. Dry cookies icing side up on a rack. Serve.

7. Store in an airtight container for up to 4 days.

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