I’m always on the look-out for a new Christmas cookie. My friend, Diana Alexander, is a Christmas cookie baker extraordinaire. For years, she’s been creating magical cookie baskets for friends and family. Last year, she invited Ralph and me to her afternoon ‘Christmas Cookie Party’. I just about fell over when I walked into her dining room. There, before us, was the most stunning collection of festive cookies, I’ve ever had the pleasure of seeing and sampling! Thirty different plates of gorgeous holiday cookies. Each plate tagged with the cookie’s name and a short description. It was absolutely breath-taking! I asked her if we could do a post together ‘next year’ to which she agreed. So, here we are, one year later in Diana’s kitchen while she prepares her favourite Christmas cookie, JASMINE ORANGE MELTAWAYS. The name alone is enough to conjure up exotic food fantasies but the taste… I didn’t try these cookies last year during Diana’s party but, as I’m sharing the recipe with you, I wanted to know whether I liked them. OMG!!!!!!!!!!!! They are, as the name implies, melt in your mouth – to die for! I tried one cold and loved it. Diana insisted that I try one warm. I kid you not, I felt the earth move…
She found the recipe in the Better Homes and Gardens 2010 ‘Best 100 cookies’. I asked her if she’d tweaked the recipe.
“No, it’s letter for letter the same.”
Diana explained that this cookie is really just a refrigerator cookie with a few extra steps. Part of the butter has to be infused with Jasmine Tea Dragon Pearls which might prove challenging. Finding the dragon pearls will be a bit of a hunt. Diana suggested trying an Oriental food store or a speciality tea shop. She’s used jasmine tea leaves before but found the dragon pearls – I love the name – to be far superior in flavour. Once the melted butter has steeped long enough, it’s strained then added to the solid butter. The mixture is blended together and from there it’s pretty much business as usual. One thing that Diana did which surprised me, given her experience as a baker, was that she measured her ‘cookie log’ while she was shaping it. She laughed when I questioned her and said, “an old habit.” Given how deliciously perfect her cookies are, I’ll be getting out my measuring tape!
If you’re a cookie lover or have a cookie monster in your house, you’ve got to try this recipe. It’ll blow your mind.
DISCLAIMER: Diana asked that I only photograph her hands. I agreed, reluctantly.
Jasmine Orange Meltaways
Makes 34 – 36 cookies.
¾ cup softened butter
2 tablespoons jasmine tea dragon pearls
½ cup icing sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla
1 cup flour
½ cup cornstarch
2 teaspoon fresh orange peel, finely grated
Jasmine dredging sugar –see below
- In a small pot, over medium heat, melt ¼ cup butter until bubbly.
- Remove pot from heat.
- Stir in jasmine tea dragon pearls and infuse for 4 minutes.
- Strain the butter in to a large mixing bowl and discard the tea dragon pearls.
- Add the remaining ½ cup butter and the icing sugar to the strained butter.
- Beat with an electric mixer until light and fluffy.
- Beat in vanilla.
- Blend flour and cornstarch until combined.
- Stir in orange peel.
- Shape dough into a 10” roll. This is where Diana uses her measurinf tape!
- Wrap in plastic wrap or waxed paper.
- Chill for 2 – 24 hours or until dough is firm enough to slice.
- Using a serrated knife, cut roll into ¼” slices.
- Place slices on an ungreased cookie sheet and bake at 375*F for 8-10 minutes or until edges are slightly brown. Diana turns her pan half way through the cook time to make sure that her cookies are baked evenly.
- Transfer cookies to a cooling rack for 10 minutes
- Gently shake warm cookies in a plastic bag of jasmine dredging sugar*
Jasmine Dredging Sugar
1 jasmine tea bag
1 cup icing sugar
- Place the jasmine tea bag and the icing sugar in a resealable plastic bag.
- Let stand for 24.
- Remove the tea bag.
Thanks for reading and special thanks to Diana for sharing her awesome recipe!
Photography by Michelle Hooton