Why It Works
- Toasted and ground almonds are worked into the dough and the sliced almonds that top each cookie get toasted in the oven, resulting in a concentrated nutty flavor.
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, adapted from The Babbo Cookbook, are very "Italian-bakery" in that way. 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.
For the Cookies:
1/2 cup sliced blanched almonds, toasted and cooled (see note)
2 cups (about 10 ounces) all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
16 tablespoons (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup (about 7 ounces) sugar
1 egg yolk (white reserved)
1 packed teaspoon blood orange zest from about 1 small blood orange
1 teaspoon vanilla
For the Coating:
1 egg white (reserved from egg above)
1 1/2 cups sliced blanched almonds
Confectioners' sugar, for dusting
In the bowl of a food processor, grind toasted almonds until the consistency of coarse flour. Add to a medium bowl with flour, baking powder, and salt. Stir to combine and set aside.
In a large bowl, beat together butter and sugar with an electric hand mixer until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add egg yolk, orange zest, and vanilla; beat to combine. Add dry ingredients to the bowl and beat until it comes together into a dough. Divide dough into 2 equal pieces. Form each piece into a 1-inch wide log, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate 1 hour.
Adjust oven rack to lower and middle positions and preheat oven to 350°F (175°C). Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Cut the first log of dough into 1/4-inch wide slices.
Place egg white in a shallow bowl. Fill another shallow bowl with sliced almonds. Dip each cookie into egg white, then into sliced almonds to coat. Place on baking sheet. Repeat with remaining dough. Bake cookies until golden, about 15 minutes. Let cool 5 minutes then transfer to a wire rack. Dust with confectioners' sugar to coat.
To toast almonds, preheat oven to 325°F (160°C) and spread almonds over a baking sheet. Bake until golden, about 7 minutes.
|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 10g||12%|
|Saturated Fat 4g||18%|
|Total Carbohydrate 14g||5%|
|Dietary Fiber 1g||4%|
|Total Sugars 7g|
|Vitamin C 0mg||0%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|