Cookie Monster: Italian Almond and Blood Orange Cookies

Carrie Vasios

Ordering at an Italian bakery is not really what you'd call precise. It's a lot of, "I'll have some of those [point] and some of those [point] and um, some of the crescent-y ones, and some of the sprinkled ones. Oh, and the flat ones covered in chocolate." To this day I'm not sure what the specific names are for all of the cookies, and I don't bother too much about finding out. Doing the point-and-taste is half the fun.

These cookies are very "Italian-bakery" in that way. You wouldn't know what's inside from the look of them, and if you saw them in a bakery, you'd probably choose them based on the sliced almond and powdered sugar topping.

Well, you'd quickly discover they're just a little chewy. Then you'd notice they're almond-flavored with an aftertaste of citrus. The citrus comes from blood orange zest, and the almond flavor from toasted almonds that are ground into the consistency of flour and folded into the dough. The dough is assembled, then rolled into logs and chilled in the refrigerator. When you're ready to bake, you slice the dough into 1/4-inch slices, dip each cookie in egg whites, then in sliced almonds to coat. They bake up with a top layer of crunchy, toasty sliced almonds. For a final touch (and to really invite the curious eye), the cookies get a drift of powdered sugar.