I’ve been thinking about these cookies for two years now. I guess it’s true: Time really does fly. It was two holidays ago that I hosted a potluck party and asked friends—and friends of friends—to bring something gluten-free and dairy-free. I made sure to taste everything. One bite into these delicate, laced cookies and I knew I needed the recipe.
Some months later it arrived in my email inbox and then, like many emails do, it just sat there. It wasn’t until last week, that I remembered I even had it. I read it over and made some flavor tweaks. Mainly, I added one of my new favorite ingredients—cocoa nibs—which I knew would bring out the orange notes from the creamy filling. These are, simply put, just heavenly.
This recipe is very forgiving. Go ahead and use any nuts or seeds that you prefer, finely chopped dried fruit, candied orange or lemon peel, even warm-toned spices—a pinch of nutmeg, cinnamon or cardamom would be nice.
Because of the high sugar content, these sugars spread a lot so I give them plenty of space on the baking sheet. Also, make sure your cookie dough rounds are about the diameter of a quarter.
Here are the cookies straight from the oven. Let them set on the baking sheet until cool, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before filling.
For ingredient substitutions, please see the detailed chart at Gluten-Free 101.
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, vegan butter or shortening, at room temperature, divided
1/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons brown rice syrup, corn syrup or honey
1 cup coarsely ground pecans (4 ounces)
¼ cup cocoa nibs (optional)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup confectioners' sugar
¾ teaspoon orange zest (from 1 orange)
1 tablespoon freshly-squeezed orange juice (from ½ an orange)
- Place the oven rack in the middle and preheat the oven to 350º. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. In a medium saucepan over low heat, melt together ¼ cup of the butter, the sugar and rice syrup until smooth. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring constantly. Remove from the heat and stir in the flour, nuts, nibs and vanilla to combine.
- Drop the dough by teaspoonfuls about 3 inches apart onto the prepared baking sheets. Bake the cookies, one sheet at a time, until golden, 9 to 11 minutes. Let set; transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
- Meanwhile, whisk together the remaining ¼ cup of the butter, confectioners' sugar, orange zest and juice until smooth. Spread about 1 teaspoon of cream onto the flat sides of half of the cookies and top with the remaining cookies to sandwich, pressing gently.