It’s wonderful how food can evoke memories. My mom used to make a big batch of these cookies at Christmas, Easter and other special occasions. It’s a recipe she developed herself and perfected over the decades. When I moved to England, I took her recipe back with me. However, I struggled to recreate it and finally figured out how to convert the Canadian ingredients into ones I could find in the UK, namely the flour and vegetable shortening/lard. It was an ongoing project that my mother and I enjoyed working on.
I lost my mom only a few months ago and I miss her every day. In the midst of dealing with my grief, my thoughts somehow reverted to this recipe and all of the times we made it together as well as the conversations we had about adapting it to the UK when I moved away. I know I won’t ever have this experience with my mom again but I can keep her memory alive with sights, tastes and smells. And I can pass on the recipe to my son, who loves to bake with me. Some of the best moments we have together are in the kitchen so we made my mom’s recipe together for this blog post.
We always called them cookies, although they are a bit like cupcakes or muffins. In fact, these cookies never really had a name. We just gobbled them up before we could think about identifying them into a specific category. It was only when my niece Amanda once asked my mom for her “magic” cookies that I came up with the name for the recipe. They have a whole cup of orange juice in them so I added “orange” to the name. So there you have it… My Mom’s Magic Orange Cookies.
400g (2 cups) sugar
220g Cookeen (for the UK) or Crisco vegetable shortening, left out at room temperature
250ml (1 cup) orange juice, no pulp
700g “Canadian & Very Strong White Bread Flour” (available at Waitrose)
[For North America, use 4-½ cups all purpose flour]
8 teaspoons baking powder
You will also need about 40 cake cases/cupcake liners.
Preheat the oven to 190°C (170°C for fan-assisted ovens) / 375°F.
In a very large bowl, mix the eggs, sugar, shortening and orange juice with a wooden spoon. There will be some lumps from the Cookeen/shortening but don’t worry too much about it at this stage. The cookies will have a subtle orange flavour. If you want a stronger taste, you can grate some orange zest into the mixture.
UK readers, make sure you use strong flour, ideally “Canadian & Very Strong White Bread Flour” from Waitrose. UK “plain flour” won’t work. In a separate bowl, sift the flour and baking powder. Add these to the egg mixture. Keep mixing until all the ingredients are blended. The batter will be thick and sticky.
Scatter some flour onto a plate and some icing sugar on a separate plate. The mixture is sticky so you may want to use a spoon to scoop it up. However, I find that working with your hands gets the best results so dust some flour on them and grab a handful of the batter. Yes, it will be gooey. Dip some into the flour on the plate to make it less sticky. Then roll in the icing sugar. Plop into a cake case/cupcake liner.
Repeat until you have filled a baking tray with all of the cake cases/liners. My oven tray holds 20, so I only had to bake two batches.
Bake for about 15-16 minutes, until the cookies rise and have just started to turn golden. Don’t wait until they are too crispy at the top.
Makes 40 cookies. I suppose you can halve the recipe if you wish to make only 20, but I’ve never had to. These cookies are very addictive and will go quite fast!
The cookies came out great but more importantly, I enjoyed sharing this baking experience with my son. My mom would have been proud.
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