Cream Cheese Orange Pecan Cookies

The food: tiny delicious soft cookies

The story:

My husband E has been waxing nostalgic lately about foods I haven’t made in a while. That’s what led me to make two batches of Buttery Cheese Straws in as many weeks, and to dust off an old recipe for cream cheese (and butter) cookies enlivened with grated orange zest and pecans, and make some of those too. Good thing cultured sweet butter has been on sale recently at the supermarket, and the weather has been fine enough for us to take long, pseudo-calorie-burning walks.

Like my favorite recipe for chocolate cake, the recipe used to make these soft, orange-scented melt-in-your-mouth miniature cookies is about 20 years old and comes from a magazine – I know not which, unfortunately – where its title was the rather plain-sounding Cream Cheese Cookies.

I’ve copied down the recipe here as it appears in the faded clipping that’s glued into my old recipe album, but I usually cut the quantities in half – that’s the dough for half the recipe shown below, prior to chilling – because once they’re made, it’s far too easy to eat these little bites by the handful, and how many long walks can I take in a day when I should be writing?

Cream Cheese Cookies
Makes about 5 dozen

8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 c. unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 c. sugar
2 T. finely grated orange peel
1 t. vanilla

1 1/2 c. all purpose flour
2 t. baking powder
pinch of salt
1/2 c. chopped pecans
powdered sugar

1. Combine cheese and butter in large bowl of electric mixer and cream at high speed until light and fluffy.
2. Gradually beat in sugar. Blend in orange peel and vanilla.
3. Sift flour, baking powder and salt together. Gradually add to cheese mixture at low speed.
4. Stir in pecans. Form dough into ball. Wrap in waxed paper or plastic and chill 30 minutes.
5. Position rack in upper third of oven and preheat to 400 degrees F. Grease 2 large baking sheets. Pinch off small walnut-size pieces of dough and roll into balls. Arrange on prepared baking sheets.
6. Dip fork into powdered sugar and press into each cookie to form line design and flatten to a 1/4 inch thickness.
7. Bake until cookies are just slightly browned and starting to set around edges, about 7 to 8 minutes (centers will be soft). Transfer to racks and cool completely before serving.

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