I had just heard a new baking tip. Instead of mixing in zest with the dry ingredients, rub it into the sugar or stir it into the butter to get the full flavor. I couldn’t wait to try it out. I took my favorite sugar cookie recipe, and rubbed some fresh orange zest into the sugar.
The zested sugar smelled wonderful… bright and refreshing. I was hopeful the cookies would impart that fresh orange flavor. Alas, not so much.
I suppose they weren’t horrible. But what self-respecting baker likes to serve “they weren’t horrible” cookies? The orange flavor came out strange, and there was a slightly bitter aftertaste.
They were just okay.
Sadly, they diminished (and almost squelched entirely) my desire for another cookie.
Squelched cookie desire is never a good thing. Okay, maybe a good thing for my hips. But that’s beside the point.
I had only baked one pan, and most of the dough was still wrapped up in my refrigerator. I couldn’t just toss it. So I decided to whip up a frosting.
Often I like my sugar cookies plain, naked if you will. Frosting sometimes adds an unnecessary sweetness on an already delightfully sweet and buttery cookie. But this frosting took these cookies from just okay to my husband saying, “Wow, these are really good,” as he snuck his fourth cookie off the plate I set aside for the kiddos.
This orange cream cheese frosting is creamy and rich, but with a hint of refreshing orange and slight tang from the cream cheese. It completely erases any bitter aftertaste previously experienced. My mouth is watering for another as I write this.
Thank you, orange cream cheese frosting, for making an otherwise lackluster cookie dough an absolute delight to eat. (I cannot WAIT to try this on these orange rolls.)
Orange Cream Cheese Frosting
makes about 2 cups
- 3 tablespoons butter, softened
- 3 ounces cream cheese or Neufchatel cheese, softened
- a tiny bit of orange zest (maybe 1/6 of an orange… about 1/2 teaspoon)
- 1-3 tablespoons orange juice, divided
- a large pinch of salt
- 3-4 cups powdered sugar
- In a medium bowl, beat together the butter and cream cheese.
- In a tiny bowl, stir the salt into 1 tablespoon of the orange juice until the salt dissolves. (You can also swirl the bowl around gently until the salt dissolves.)
- Add the orange zest and salty orange juice into the cream cheese and butter and beat until smooth.
- Dump in the powdered sugar, about half a cup at a time. Beat thoroughly with each addition. If mixing by hand, put some muscle behind it to whip a little more air into the soon-to-be creamy and delicious frosting.
- Add enough powdered sugar to reach desired consistency, adjusting with reserved orange juice if necessary.
Have a scrumptious day!