My mother grew up on a small Finnish farm in Upper Michigan. At Christmas she would remind us that oranges are a special treat. When she was a girl her family had oranges only on Christmas. As a tradition we always received an orange in our Christmas stocking.
When I saw a recipe that included orange zest in a molasses cookie—in the newspaper—I had to try it. Then I tweaked the recipe to my liking. Finnish spice cookies sometimes include rye flour, so I substituted rye flour for some of the flour.
5 Tblsp. unsalted butter, softened
¼ cup honey
½ cup dark brown sugar, packed
2 Tblsp. grated orange zest*
1/3-cup dark unsulfured molasses
1 egg yolk
½ cup unsweetened applesauce
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. baking soda
1 + ½ tsp. cinnamon
1 + ½ tsp. ground ginger
½ tsp. cloves
¼ tsp. allspice
¼ tsp. fresh ground black pepper
½ tsp. salt
1 + ½ cup quick oats
¾ cup rye four
1 + ¾ cup unbleached white flour
1 egg white, beaten with a fork until frothy
1 Tblsp. grated orange zest*
½ cup turbinado sugar
Thoroughly combine the sugar and orange zest.
*For the orange zest I used one orange and grated the outer peel, mincing it fine.
Preheat the oven to 375°. Lightly grease cookie sheet.
In a large bowl beat the butter and honey until creamy. Add the brown sugar and 2 Tablespoons orange zest and beat for a couple more minutes.
Add the molasses, applesauce, egg yolk (reserve the egg white), vanilla, baking soda, spices and salt. Beat mixture until well combined. With a wooden spoon stir in the oats, white flour and rye flour. The dough will be a little sticky. If you want you can put the dough in the refrigerator for a half hour and it will be easier to handle.
Use a teaspoon to scoop a round of dough and form into a ball. Dip it into the egg white and then the turbinado sugar with orange zest. Place it on the cookie sheet. The cookies should be spaced about one inch apart.
Bake the cookies until the edges are set, beginning to brown and the tops are cracked. Depending on the size of the cookie, the baking time will be 10 to 15 minutes. The center of the cookie will be soft. Enjoy! These are great with a cup of coffee.