The fresh scent of oranges fills the kitchen while these Cinnamon Orange Cookies bake. If you use a glass to press down on the dough balls, you’ll
The fresh scent of oranges fills the kitchen while these Cinnamon Orange Cookies bake. If you use a glass to press down on the dough balls, you'll end up with flatter discs. These were gently pressed by hand instead. (Mel Barber — mbarber@yorkdispatch.com)

I confess, I started my search for an orange Christmas cookie with chocolate variations. I have a weakness for chocolate oranges at Christmas, so it seemed a natural choice.

Be thankful, fellow bakers, that I ran across this recipe for Cinnamon Orange Cookies at the now-defunct Canary Girl blog instead. (Or, if you're trying to avoid that extra 15 holiday pounds, curse my name.)

The marriage of cinnamon's spicy sweetness and orange's tartness is -- maybe -- even better than a chocolate orange, and much lighter.

Rumor has it the dough tastes like an orange Creamsicle, though of course that cannot be confirmed, because I would never suggest eating a dough with raw egg in it. Especially not if the taste and smell of a Creamsicle will keep you diving back for one last finger swipe before the bowl goes into the sink for a washing.

If you like your cookies bigger, doubling the size of the dough balls here will make some generously sized monsters for gobbling up. Besides, they have orange juice in them -- that clearly makes them part of a complete breakfast. Right?

Cinnamon Orange Cookies

1 cup sugar

1 cup butter or shortening

1 large egg

2 tsp. vanilla

1 medium to large orange to zest

¼ cup orange juice (from zested orange)

2½ cups flour

½ tsp. baking soda

½ tsp. salt

1/3 cup sugar

3 Tbsp. cinnamon

1. Preheat oven to 350. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

2. Beat 1 cup sugar with the butter or shortening, egg, vanilla and orange zest. Add the orange juice, flour, soda and salt and stir until well combined.

3. Combine 1/3 cup sugar with 3 tablespoons cinnamon. Shape dough into walnut-sized balls to make four dozen cookies. Roll in cinnamon sugar and press onto prepared cookie sheets with a glass dipped in cinnamon sugar for flat discs or press gently with your fingertips for more rounded mounds.

4. Bake 10-15 minutes until lightly golden.

-- Reach Mel Barber at mbarber@yorkdispatch.com.