Pecan Orange Cookies

Orange Pecan CookiesThis cookie recipe is another one from the Star Tribune Cookie Contest. In fact it was the 2010 winner! I made the tweak to use pecans vs. pistachios, due to the high cost of pistachios currently. I loved the version with pecans (I’m a big fan of pecans, but I do love pistachios, as well.) Either way, this is great cookie which ads a touch of sophistication with its orange and pecan frosting and chopped nut finish. There is an inside funny story about these cookies…


I mistakenly made them with baking powder vs. baking soda the first time. Dang! They were a bit of effort and I hated to let them go to waste. They still tasted very good, but the texture of the cookie was more puffy vs. a crisp texture.  Solution – I ended up donating them to a few of my bible study friends to park in the break room at their offices. I am assuming that no one who ate them was none the wiser (unless of course they end up reading this blog!)

Pecan-Orange Cookies

Serving Size: 3 dozen cookies

Pecan-Orange Cookies


  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons cream of tartar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup sugar, plus extra for rolling dough
  • 1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup pecans (or raw shelled pistachios), divided
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter at room temperature
  • freshly grated zest of 1 orange
  • 1 teaspoon orange extract
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons milk, or more (or use 1 tablespoon of milk and 1 tablespoon of freshly squeezed orange juice)


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line baking sheets with parchment paper.
  • In a large bowl whisk together flour, salt, cream of tartar and baking soda and reserve, In a bowl of an electric mixer on medium-high speed beat butter, 1/2 cup sugar and brown sugar until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add egg and vanilla and mix until thoroughly combined.
  • Reduce speed to low and add flour mixture in thirds, mixing until just combined. Form dough into 1/2 inch balls.
  • Roll dough in sugar and place 2 inches apart of prepared baking sheets. (It works well to roll a number of cookies at once in a larger container filled with sugar to speed up this process. Pat cookies lightly bake into shape, if required, when you place on the baking sheet.) Bake until cookies are set but not browned, about 11 minutes (cookies will puff up in oven but flatten as they cool.)
  • Remove from oven and let cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
  • In a food processor pulse 1/2 cup nuts until very fine (the nuts should almost clump together in a paste between your fingers.)
  • In a bowl of an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat butter and orange zest until light and fluffy. Add orange and vanilla extract and mix until thoroughly combined.
  • Reduce speed to low and add powdered sugar, in thirds, alternating with milk (or milk and orange juice), and mix until smooth (you may need another tablespoon or so of liquid to reach a desired consistency.) Fold in chopped nuts, mixing until thoroughly combined.
    Assemble Cookies
  • Finely chop remaining 1/2 cup nuts and place in shallow dish. Spread a generous dollop of filling on the flat side of cookie. Place the flat side of the 2nd cookie against filling to make sandwich. Press gently until filling is at edge of cookies (note - if you don't have enough frosting it won't reach the edge, and the nuts won't stick.) Roll edge in chopped nuts. Repeat with remaining cookies.

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