Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Vegan Orange Ball Cookies and Rangpur Limeade

I'm a vegan, but lots of times I get a hankering for "regular food," the food of my childhood, of family reunions and bake sales and my parents' office picnics. (I'm a secret fan of your '70s prefab desserts, those fluffy, dreamy concoctions made from instant pudding and Cool Whip and other convenience products.) Anyway, I got one of my hankerings last week, so I spent several lunch hours hunting for ingredients. I was looking for a box of vegan vanilla cookies that I could crush up to make traditional "orange balls," a holiday staple around these parts.

Vegan vanilla cookies are not easy to find in a smallish town. For some reason I had been under the impression that Nilla Wafers were vegan, but I was sadly mistaken. Anyway, it took me several trips to various grocery stores, but I finally found some suitable cookies--Annie's Vanilla Bunnies. I got up early on Saturday morning and started crushing up my cookies and complaining to Rob about how long it was taking. (We don't have a food processor.)

Rob thought it was funny that I had purchased cookies in order to make new cookies.

"Well, the new ones are going to be a lot better," I said. "By the way, I sure am feeling Christmassy on this humid August morning."

Powdered sugar hung in the air in clouds, and there was coconut on the floor. Soon I had assembled two festive platters of holiday orange balls.

I served them (to myself) with some delicious Rangpur limeade. Usually Rob and I wouldn't harvest our Rangpur limes this early, but our tree was so overloaded with fruit that a branch broke off and we had to pick all the limes off of it so they wouldn't go to waste. Strangely, they didn't taste all that extra sour, really. In fact, they tasted pretty much the same as the ones we used last winter (which were definitely too sour to eat all by themselves; we only used them in recipes that called for lots of sugar). A Rangpur lime tastes kind of like a lime, but it isn't a true lime. It's a cross between a mandarin orange and a lemon. The fruits (which turn bright orange later in fall) are super juicy and fragrant, with a unique lemon-lime-tangerine flavor. To me, they taste kind of perfume-y too, kind of like flowers; there's a little hint of honeysuckle. So, yes, there were some lovely floral notes in my limeade.

Vegan Orange Balls


1/2 cup vegan butter, melted
1 cup powdered sugar, plus extra to roll the finished cookies in
1/2 cup frozen orange juice, thawed
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
8 ounces vegan vanilla cookies, crushed
1 cup shredded coconut
1 cup chopped pecans


Mix together the butter, 1 cup powdered sugar, orange juice, and vanilla. Make sure everything is well blended. Stir in the crushed cookies, coconut, and chopped pecans. Form the "dough" into small balls and roll in powdered sugar.

Rangpur Limeade


1 cup sugar
6 cups water
2 cups Rangpur lime juice
1 tsp Rangpur lime zest
Ice cubes


Pour two cups of water in a saucepan and bring it to a boil. Stir in the sugar and keep boiling until the sugar dissolves. Allow to cool. Pour the remaining four cups of water into a pitcher. Add the Rangpur lime juice, zest, and sugar syrup. Stir well and chill in the refrigerator. Add the ice cubes just before serving.


  1. My mouth is watering...especially since I'm a real cookie monster. I've never heard of rangpur limes before but they sound quite interesting. Apparently the trees must be cold hardy all the way up in your area. Did you purchase the tree online or at a local nursery?

  2. Hi Susan, we got our Rangpur lime at Just Fruits and Exotics, a nursery in Crawfordville that specializes in fruit trees. It does so well here; it's probably our most successful citrus tree. It's lush and beautiful with a wonderful shape; I like it just for its ornamental quality.

  3. I really want to get a Rangpur lime. Do you use them as limes in recipes or just to make juice? I love the glass in the picture.- B

  4. Yes, we do use them as lime subsitutes! They work great! I would really recommend getting one because they do so well here. I want to get a second tree this year, so I'm going to call Just Fruits and see if they have them in stock. I will let you know what I find out!