I adore basically anything made with lemon, lime, or orange zest. Baked goods, raw treats, salads, grilled veggies...all of it. It adds a lovely refreshing element to many dishes and is often an overlooked ingredient in recipes.
Spring has come early to my little New England town. New growth is showing up everywhere I look. And it has inspired these orange pecan sandies, which hint at spring with the freshness of orange zest and the earthiness of pecan pieces.
So many options! We can either play it safe and make the tea cookie version of these orange pecan sandie cookies, we can go big and bold and make drop cookies, or we can throw a party and make the orange butter-cream frosting cookie sandwich version.
The tea cookie version makes about 30 cookies. If you think about it, 1/4 cup of regular sugar, 1/4 cup of brown sugar and 1/2 cup of vegan butter in 30 cookies is really not bad for a sweet treat. I store them in the freezer and have one or two a night to keep me from over-indulging.
The drop cookie version makes about 20 cookies, so your processed ingredients are greater in each cookie. But these are the simplest version and honestly can be made and ready to eat in less than 45 minutes.
The sandwich version, well, they are pretty amazing. These are for special occasions and should only be made when company comes and eats them all for you. You don't want these bad boys hanging around your house because I guarantee you won't fit into those skinny jeans tomorrow.
Let's get started!
First, oat flour is essential—and hard to find. But takes a minute to make and is a whole lot cheaper. Just grind it up multiple small batches in your Vitamix or food processor and store the unused portion in a jar. Once that's done, combine all your dry ingredients in a bowl with a fork and set aside.
Zest and juice your orange (no special equipment needed; clean hands work great for squeezing the juice out). Finely chop your pecans. You have now officially finished your prep work.
In your stand-up mixer, cream your vegan butter and vegan granulated and brown sugars. Add the vanilla, orange juice and zest to combine. Lower the speed and slowly add your dry ingredients, just until it is all incorporated. Finish the last few seconds by adding the pecan pieces.
If you don't have a stand-up mixer by now, I don't know what you are waiting for. It is an essential kitchen appliance in my opinion. Here's a link to the one I have, which is honestly nothing fancy.
For the tea cookie version, tear off a sheet of wax or parchment paper about 24 inches long and drop piles of the dough along the center length-wise.
Now just start working it into a log and roll it with the paper. Twist the ends to seal and place it in the freezer for an hour to harden.
Slice it into 1/4 inch rounds and place flat on a lined baking sheet. Into the preheated oven they go and in about 15 minutes, your house will smell like oranges and they are ready to come out of the oven.
Now, if you are making the cookie sandwich version, you have to get the frosting started. If adding it to the tea cookie version, I make the frosting while the cookies are in the freezer. If you are making the drop cookie version, you will either need to make the frosting before making the cookies or after. Either way, ALWAYS make sure your cookies are fully cooled before adding the frosting. And your frosting needs to be kept cool in the refrigerator as well.
Start by sifting your vegan confectioners sugar to remove all lumps. It takes some time and the palm of your hand will hurt but is important. Use your finger tips to get all the lumps out and through the sifter.
Cream your lightly softened vegan stick butter for a few minutes, add the vanilla and orange juice for another 30 seconds and then turn your mixer down and slowly add in your confectioners sugar. Stop and scrap down the sides of the bowl a few times during this whole process.
Once all your ingredients are in, it should take less than a minute of whipping for a smooth frosting to form. Place it in an air-tight container and let it harden in the refrigerator an hour before using.
So there you have it; Orange Pecan Sandie Cookie Sandwiches. Melt in your mouth goodness. Dangerously addictive. Sure to be the hit of the party.
Any way you do it, these cookies are sure to become a new favorite. The are just slightly sweet, buttery, nutty, and have that great pop of spring with the orange zest. And they really are easy to make.
Time: 1 hour (with additional 1 hour freeze tea cookie option)
1 c. almond meal
1 c. gluten-free old fashion oat flour (to make grind in a Vitamix or food processor)
1/2 c. gluten-free all purpose flour mixture (I like Cup4Cup)
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. kosher salt
1 sticks (8 tbsp.) Earth Balance vegan stick butter, softened
1/4 c. granulated vegan sugar
1/4 c. vegan brown sugar
2 tsp. vanilla extract
zest from one washed orange
2 tbsp. fresh orange juice
1/4 c. finely chopped pecan pieces
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a sheet pan with a silicone mat or parchment paper.
In a bowl, mix together the dry ingredients and stir and fluff with a fork to combine. Set aside.
In your stand up mixer, whip the softened butter. both sugars and the vanilla extract for a minute on a medium setting. Add the orange zest and orange juice for an additional 30 seconds to incorporate. Reduce speed to low and slowly mix in the dry mixture. Mix until just combined; don’t over mix. Add in the pecan pieces.
Drop Cookie Instructions:
Using your medium size levered ice cream scooper, scoop out your cookies, leaving a little room for spreading. With wet fingers, gently press down to slightly flatten the uncooked cookies.
Bake for 15-17 minutes, until lightly golden around the edges. Makes approximately 18-20 cookies.
Tea Cookie Instructions:
Tear out a sheet of wax or parchment paper approx. 24 inches long. Drop the dough in multiple piles along the center of the paper, length-wise and start to roll and work the dough using the wax paper to form a solid, tight log. Wrap in the wax paper, roll and twist ends closed. Freeze 1 hour to harden.
Unwrap log on a cutting board and cut log into 1/4 inch slices. Lay out on lined baking sheet.
Bake for 13-15 minutes, until lightly golden around the edges. Makes approximately 28-30 cookies.
Orange Frosting Sandwich Option:
4 tbsp. Earth Balance vegan stick butter, room temp
2 c. vegan confectioners sugar, sifted to remove lumps
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 tbsp. orange juice
In stand up mixer with whisk attachment, beat vegan butter for 2 minutes - stopping and scraping down sides as needed. Add vanilla and orange juice and beat for an additional 30 seconds. Reduce speed and slowly add in the confectioners sugar until fully combined and a smooth frosting appears. Transfer to a airtight container and refrigerate 1 hour before using.
Spread frosting on a cookie and sandwich another on top, pressing down gently.