Blog Orange Currant Cookies

Blog Orange Currant Cookies

If you want to put fruit in a rolled cookie, it needs to be small; currants certainly fit the bill. I've always loved baking with currants, but only recently did I discover something interesting about them: dried currants are not dried currants. There are actually two fruits called currants and they aren't related at all. The currants that are sold fresh or made into preserves are berries, related to gooseberries. The type you buy dried, often called Zante currants, are miniature raisins, made from small grapes that originally grew on the Greek islands. (Hence the name Zante, for the island of Zakynthos, and "currant," which comes from Corinth.) Dried currants are wonderful not only in all kinds of cookies, but also in scones, cakes, and really any recipe that calls for raisins. Despite their tiny size, they have a big flavor, and they're well worth keeping in the pantry for your fall and winter baking. To reinforce the fruit flavor in my currant cookies, I've added orange. Orange zest provides bright notes, while orange juice concentrate gives the dough a well-rounded orange flavor without adding too much liquid. A little orange juice flavors the glaze as well.

A note about the shape of this week's cookie: because October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, I made these cookies using our Ribbon cutter. The link between pink ribbons and breast cancer awareness goes back to the early 90s—the idea was borrowed from the yellow ribbons displayed during the Iran hostage crisis and the red ribbons that raised awareness about the AIDS epidemic. A breast cancer activist named Charlotte Haley created peach colored ribbons to focus attention on the lack of research and funding for breast cancer prevention and treatment, and around the same time, the Susan Komen Foundation, Self magazine, and Estée Lauder created pink ribbons as part of their own education and awareness campaigns. Thanks in large part to the success of the breast cancer ribbon, ribbons of all colors became extremely popular as an emblem of awareness for a wide variety of cause.

Of course, simply making a cookie shaped like a ribbon isn't going to help cure breast cancer. To do any good, awareness needs to be accompanied by action. But the point of the special shape is to serve as a reminder. Do you know the risk factors for breast cancer? Do you do regular self-exams? Is it time to schedule a mammogram for yourself? Maybe someone you know needs some gentle encouragement to get screened, or perhaps even some help with childcare or transportation so she can get to an appointment.

Baking cookies is sweet—good health is even sweeter.

My favorite shapes for Orange Currant Cookies are the Awareness Ribbon cookie cutter, the Sunflower cookie cutter, and the Pineapple cookie cutter.