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When it comes to dessert or something sweet, I choose either (A) chocolate, the darker the better or (B) a bland, slightly sweet type of crisp cookie. So you won’t be shocked that I dream about these barely-sweet-filled-with-poppy-seeds cookies. My husband loves to tell the story of how, when he was a boy in Waterloo, Iowa, his parents’ friend Ann always kept a Folgers coffee can with these cookies on top of her refrigerator. Always. And whenever he would go to Ann’s house, he’d help himself to several of these delicious homemade cookies. They are like potato chips though: addicting, crispy, you can’t eat just one.
Anyway, I found a recipe card recently with for poppy seed or “Mohn” cookies tucked among my old fashioned recipe file (the kind where things are actually written out) and decided to make them just because. Mohn means poppyseed in German and Yiddish as well. It took a couple of run throughs, adding a bit more sugar, not refrigerating the raw dough, baking them longer and B-I-N-G-O. These little cookies are amazing.
I always keep homemade cookies around, but I switch up the varieties and these are my new favorites. I cannot wait to have a cup of jasmine green tea or pour a glass of cold milk to sip alongside these orange-scented gems.
If you have a grocery store that carries bulk poppy seeds, like I do, you’ll be way ahead of the game. The cost here in Seattle was a tenth the price in bulk as it would be in a spice jar. And a third of a cup of poppy seeds is a LOT… probably an entire spice jar. The orange zest and fresh orange juice here are key and what sets this apart from similar cookie recipes.
Ann Lipkin’s Poppy Seed Sugar Cookies
Yield: 7-8 dozen 2-2 1/4 inch diameter cookies
- 3 large eggs
- ½ cup peanut oil
- ¼ cup freshly squeezed orange juice
- Grated zest of one large orange
- ¾ cups white sugar plus 2 Tbsp
- ⅓ cup poppy seeds
- 3 ½ cups all purpose flour
- 1 tsp. baking powder
- Pinch salt
- ¼ cup sugar (approximately) for rolling the cookiesInstructions
Preheat the oven to 350. Zest the orange and combine the zest with the sugar to absorb the oil while you finish getting everything else ready. Squeeze the orange juice from the zested orange and measure out 1/4 cup. Beat eggs with oil, juice and sugar/zest, blending well. Stir in poppy seeds . . Combine dry ingredients (flour, soda and salt) together and add to the wet mixture to make a soft dough. Mix lightly with a spatula or with your hands.
Use teaspoon-size pieces of dough to form balls; if the dough is too sticky dust your hands with flour. Roll each cookie in granulated sugar. I usually place all the balls on a tray. Once they are made into balls, start to put them on parchment lined cookie sheets. Place them two inches apart, 15 per sheet. Take a flat glass (I actually use a flat meat pounder), dip it in sugar and press down hard so that the rounds are about ⅛ inch thick, (or you can pat them flat with your fingers) and bake 15-20 minutes until lightly brown on top and around the edges. Leave them on the cookie sheet for one minute then put on a rack to cool completely.
These cookies freeze well for up to three months and keep, covered at room temperature, for two weeks at least.