I love these cookies! They’re crunchy, crumbly, made with ground almonds and orange zest. I found this recipe in a 2001 edition of Martha Stewart’s Holiday Cookies: 100 Favorite Recipes.
Don’t get me wrong, I love chocolate and caramel and cheesecake as much as anyone. But during the holidays, cookie trays and dessert tables seem to be inundated with uber-rich treats. I think of almond orange cookies as sort of a palate cleanser. The crunch of the ground almonds and the crispy sugar coated edges lend a tasty background to the orange zest. These cookies are buttery, and not too sweet.
However, if you want to dress them up a little bit, why not dip half of the cookie in dark chocolate melted with Grand Marnier for a hint of orange flavor. They’d look like a black-and-white cookie.
Another plus for this cookie is that they are refrigerated dough cookies. You can make up several batches, wrap them in parchment paper, and keep in the refrigerator or freezer until you’re ready to bake and slice them. That’s a real time saver, especially over the holidays or when you have guests drop in for a little snack.
The original recipe calls for whole blanched almonds. I like to use almonds that are already cut into little matchsticks. I think it makes the grinding faster. I added a wee bit of orange extract and vanilla extract and salt to the original recipe. And I used Demerara sugar to coat the dough logs before baking, because I had it in my pantry.
So, let’s make some, shall we??
- 1¼ cups (6¼ ounces)
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 12 Tablespoons (1½ sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 3 Tablespoons finely grated orange zest (2-3 oranges)
- 1 large egg
- 1 Tablespoon freshly squeezed orange juice
- ½ teaspoon orange extract (optional)
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)
- 1½ cups all-purpose flour
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup sanding sugar or Demerara sugar
- Put the almonds and powdered sugar in the bowl of a food processor. Process until the almonds are ground and the mixture begins to look like coarse cornmeal.
- Place butter and orange zest in the bowl of an electric mixer. Using the paddle, beat the ingredients until light and fluffy - 2-3 minutes. On low speed, add the ground almond mixture to the butter in the mixing bowl. Mix 10-15 seconds until just combined. Add the egg and orange juice; mix until just combined. Add the flour and salt; mix until just combined.
- Using parchment paper or waxed paper, cut two 12"x16" pieces. Divide the dough in half. Place one half of the dough on the parchment. Fold the parchment over the dough, and using a long ruler and holding the bottom piece of the parchment, gently slide the ruler toward the dough to form a 1½ inch log. The diameter of the log should be uniform. (You'll see - the dough fills out the parchment nearly to the ends as you push the ruler against the top layer.) Repeat with the second half of the dough.
- Wrap in more parchment or waxed paper. Secure the ends with twist ties or string. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours. At this time, you may freeze the dough - it should keep in the freezer for 6 weeks.
- When you're ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or use a silpat.
- Using another baking sheet, spread out the sanding OR Demerara sugar. (Be sure it's one with a lip or you'll have sugar all over the place.)
- Unwrap the logs, and roll them in the sugar to coat the outsides of the logs. Don't be afraid to roll them while gently pressing down, so you're sure to get a good thick sugar coating. (If the log are frozen, you might let them stand at room temperature for a minute or two to allow the outside to become soft and the sugar coating will adhere.)
- Using a sharp knife, cut the dough logs into ¼" thick slices, and place 1" apart on the prepared baking sheets.. Bake for 15 minutes or until the edges become golden brown. (You may want to rotate the baking pans half way through to ensure even baking.)
- Remove from the oven to a cooling rack for 1-2 minutes. Transfer the cookies to a cooling rack. Store the baked cookies in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.