By The Gentleman
So somehow The Lady and I managed to be cooped up on World Gin Day. I don’t even know how this happened, but it did, and it almost ruined our day until I realised we had sufficient stocks of gin to break it down gin-style at home. I whipped up a cheeky gin and tonic for The Lady, but thought ‘this is World Gin Day I’ve got to do something a bit special’ so lo and behold Orange Gin Biscuits. Adapted from the Mojito Cookies on Giraffes Can Bake, which I still want to try and make, they were the perfectly gintastic baked good I was looking for to celebrate this wonderful spirit.
Servings: 18-24 suggested but I got 48
For the cookies:
170g unsalted butter, room temperature
300g caster sugar, plus extra for rolling cookies in
Zest of half a navel orange
2 egg yolks
120ml sour cream
2 tbsp navel orange juice
1 tbsp Melbourne Gin Company Gin
1 tbsp juniper berries, ground
375g plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
For the glaze
60ml Melbourne Gin Company Gin
3 tbsp caster sugar
1 tsp navel orange zest
1 tsp juniper berries, ground
2 tsp navel orange juice
1. Line a baking sheet with baking paper.
2. Using a stand mixer or hand mixer, beat together the butter and sugar on medium speed (beware of flying sugar here, why is creaming butter and sugar always so messy?). Add the orange zest, orange juice, gin, juniper berries and egg yolks and combine. Beat in sour cream until just combined. Recommended – you’ve got the gin out, you’re working up a sweat in the kitchen, you DESERVE a gin and tonic. Go on.
3. In a separate bowl, gin and tonic in hand, add the flour, baking powder and salt and whisk to stir and aerate (I was too lazy to do this and instead put all the dry ingredients in a sieve and added them that way). Gradually add the dry ingredients into the butter mixture and combine on a low speed until all mixed in.
4. Place teaspoon sized drops of dough on baking sheet with at least 2 inches space between each one. Sprinkle with caster sugar. Cover and chill in the fridge for at least an hour. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F.
5. Bake the cookies for 12-15 minutes until they are slightly golden and set.
6. Combine the glaze ingredients in a bowl and brush over warm cookies with pastry brush. Leave cookies to cool on wire rack.
So I made a few changes to the recipe from Giraffes Can Bake. I chose navel oranges specifically because after doing a bit of digging I found that Melbourne Gin Company gin is distilled with navel oranges so ideally the two flavours would compliment each other. Juniper berries were chosen, obviously, because juniper is the cornerstone ingredient of any gin, plus I had never really baked anything with juniper so I was curious to see how they would flavour something baked. I toned down the amount of sugar as the navel oranges would be quite sweet anyway in comparison to the tart lime in the Mojito Cookies. I also upped the amount orange juice in the biscuits and the glaze because I not only wanted the sweetness but really wanted the biscuits to taste of orange. I hand ground my juniper berries so they were quite big bits still, which I didn’t mind because they gave the biscuits a bit of character, but with a spice grinder you could get them down to a really fine powder. Generally laziness also meant I just sprinkled my biscuits with some sugar as opposed to coating them. The biscuits do spread quite a fair bit and I probably overloaded my trays with too many biscuits, some emergency surgery was required to separate a few. I struggled to get my biscuits as thin as Giraffes Can Bake, I found the mixture quite sticky and hard to spread, so it meant the biscuits were a little chubbier but hey that’s just more to love right?
Sitting here, thinking about the biscuits, all I can think of is how fresh they tasted. Not fresh as in ‘just out of the oven’, although I did sample one as they were still warm which is my major weakness in baking, but the freshness from the orange. Every bite fills your mouth with this delicious fruity orange flavour. I don’t normally glaze my biscuits, again lazy, but here you can’t not do it. The glaze just takes these biscuits to the next level as it gives them a second dose of the core flavours of gin, orange and juniper. I’d say that the gin doesn’t really impart a particularly strong flavour, instead it helps to bring out the full orange flavour without making the biscuits too sweet and gives the biscuits a really botanical, spicy sort of smell. It’s not like just putting orange juice in the biscuits, I think the gin and the juniper give the flavour some complexity that is quite nice. I probably could have cooked my biscuits for a little longer. Still, overall the texture was quite nice. The sour cream, which I’d never used when making biscuits, definitely gives them a bit of tanginess and helps them stay quite light. Being a little chubbier they had a lovely fluffy, cakey sort of texture with a slightly crisp outer. Inside they were also quite moist and again I think the glaze has helped stop them from drying out.
We may not have made it our for World Gin Day but that doesn’t mean we didn’t celebrate in style. These Orange Gin biscuits worked perfectly as they were packed full of flavour, giving an orange kick to your taste buds that you won’t soon forget or regret, and the base biscuit recipe from Giraffes Can Bake provides a lot of opportunities to explore new flavour combinations. Now go on and treat yourself, you deserve it.