Sabrina, from The Tomato Tart, is one super generous gal. She spends her life loving her friends, living life with her husband, creating, exploring and embracing the world around her! She is one of the first to jump in and put her talents and passions to use to bring awareness to the needs around her. In March 2011, she motivated others to raise over $8,ooo for those who were devastated in Japan through an online Bake Sale. We love having her at our table today.
My dad was a cookie guy. If I close my eyes, I can see him at our kitchen counter, fully present, and relishing a cookie- dunking it into his morning tea. His cookie-of-choice varied, from amarettis, to Chinese almond tea cookies, to vanilla Hydrox, to those Danish butter cookies in the blue tin. There are certain cookies, simple buttery cookies, that remind me of my dad, this sweet little sugar cookie is one of them.
While cookies have a strong association to my childhood because of my dad, I didn’t grow up in a cookie-baking household. My mom was a savory cook and my grandmother baked amazing tarts, éclairs, gougeres, even croquembouche. I don’t remember her ever baking cookie, though. As a result, cookies and holidays are not especially entwined for me. Well, not unless you count putting cookies out for Santa.
One of the first things that comes to mind when I think of the holiday season is oranges. In California, citrus season is in full swing. I love the scent of oranges set about the house and I know the season is upon us when I’ve made my first pomander, an orange studded with cloves.
This gluten-free cookie is soft and fluffy, a little crunchy around the edges, and redolent with the heady scent of orange. This one little cookie brings together some of my favorite aspects of the season. It’s great as is. But, I know my dad would have loved it, because it’s even better when dunked in tea, coffee, or milk. You may even want to leave a couple extra for Santa.
- 1 cup (160 g) superfine sweet white rice flour
- ½ cup (60 g) corn starch
- ½ cup (60 g) tapioca starch
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- 1lb (2 sticks) softened butter
- 1 cup (200 g) sugar
- 1 egg
- ½ cup (3.5 oz) (100 g) deli cream cheese (no fillers or gums, try Sierra Nevada, Gina Marie, or Dianna Supreme)
- zest from three oranges + juice from one (about ¼ cup)
- 1 teaspoon pure orange oil (optional but super delicious!)
- decorative sugar + extra orange zest for garnish (optional)
- In a large mixing bowl, sift together flour, corn starch, tapioca starch, and baking powder. Set aside.
- In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment with a handheld electric mixer, cream butter and sugar on medium speed for 10 minutes. Be sure to scrape down the sides of your bowl every few minutes. Mixture will look pale yellow and fluffy.
- Add to the butter/sugar mix, the cream cheese and beat until well-combined (about 1 minute) add the egg and mix until just combined.
- Add the flour/starch blend and mix on medium low for 2 minutes or so. The dough should be very smooth. Add the orange zest, orange juice, and orange oil if using.
- Preheat oven to 325º
- Scoop dough (1 tablespoon size balls) onto a parchment-lined cookie sheet leaving plenty of space for the cookies to spread. Place in freezer for 20 minutes while oven is heating.
- Remove cookies from freezer and flatten with a spoon or the palm of your hand. You can sprinkle with orange zest or decorative sugar or just bake as is at 325º for 20 minutes. You can let them go a bit longer if you want a crispier browner cookie.
- Cool on baking sheet for a five minutes then transfer to a rack to cool all the way.
Sabrina Modelle is the face behind the tart, The Tomato Tart, that is. In March 2011, she created The Online Bakesale for Japan, featuring over 90 Bloggers from four continents. In 24 hours, this bake sale raised over $8,500 for Second Harvest Japan. When she’s not writing about, photographing, or thinking about food, Sabrina is a web designer, creative director, & usability expert working with nonprofits such as Amnesty International, UNICEF, and Defenders of Wildlife. In her downtime, Sabrina can usually be found with her nose in a cookbook and a dog in her lap.
TO ENTER COOKBOOK JOURNAL GIVEAWAY: