My mother had a very large vegetable garden behind our family home in Amana, Iowa. Tending to this garden demanded much of my mother's time during the growing season. But, oddly enough, I have vague memories of my mother in her garden. Instead, my memories are of baskets (beautiful handmade Amana "bushel" baskets) full of produce set by the kitchen door... and the production that was always underway in my mother's kitchen.
The reason I remember the fruits and vegetables more than my mother actually working the garden is because she was usually finished with her weeding, watering, and harvesting before I even woke up... and I woke up early! My mother did her chores before the sun was high and summer's heat made tending a garden unbearable.
And after a good amount of work had been completed by my mother, there was always a mid-morning coffee break. Everything stopped, coffee was made, and some sort of sweet treat was served. Now when I bake brioche, cookies, tarts, etc., I wish my mother were here to enjoy it all with a cup of coffee, and me.
I've been stacking several of these Almond & Blood Orange Cookies on my husband's coffee cup saucer in the mornings. This is one of the best cookies I've made (and eaten) in a long time. And there's another bonus in addition to the wonderful taste -- the citrusy, almond-laced aroma in the kitchen after you bake these cookies.
My mother told me that when she was a little girl, she would receive a fresh orange in her Christmas stocking. We now take fruits like oranges for granted, having access to them year-round in our grocery stores. But in the early 1900's, that wasn't the norm by any means. It was very special, indeed, to be able to eat an orange in the winter. And I wonder what my mother would think of the
crimson-fleshed Blood Oranges. Their color and taste can't be beat. But be warned -- the Blood Orange growing season is short. Buy them now!
Coffee break with an Espresso Con Panna (a double shot of hot espresso with cold, softly-whipped, heavy cream on top).
+ Italian Almond & Blood Orange Cookies are served with Espresso Con Panna
• 2 cups all-purpose flour
• 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 16 tablespoons (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
• 1 cup sugar
• 1 egg yolk (white reserved)
• 1 teaspoon vanilla
• 1 packed teaspoon blood orange zest (from 1 blood orange)
• 1 egg white (reserved from egg above)
• 1 1/2 cups sliced, blanched almonds
• Confectioners' sugar (for dusting)
2. In a large bowl and using an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the egg yolk, vanilla, and blood orange zest; beat mixture to combine. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the moist and beat until a dough forms. Divide dough in half and on a sheets of plastic wrap, roll each half into a log, 1 1/4-inch in diameter. Wrap each log in the plastic and refrigerate for at least an hour.
3. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Position oven racks in the upper and lower third of the oven. Preheat oven to 350˚F. Place the reserved egg white in a medium-size shallow bowl (I added about 1/2 teaspoon water to the white; stir to combine). Fill another medium-size shallow bowl with the blanched almonds. Remove the cookie dough logs from the refrigerator. Using a sharp paring knife, slice each log into 1/4-inch pieces. Take a slice and dip one side in egg white (leave slice in egg white for about 10 seconds helps the almonds to adhere), then dip in the sliced almonds, pressing firmly into the almonds; place on baking sheets. Repeat with remaining cookie slices.
4. Place a cookie sheet on each shelf of the preheated oven. Bake for 15 minutes or until golden, switching position of the sheets half way through baking. Remove from the oven and cool for 5 minutes before transferring cookies to a cooling rack. Dust with confectioners' sugar.
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