If you’ve spent any time on Pinterest, you may have seen these cookies there. Except they were made with lemon slices. From the first time I saw them, I knew that I would eventually get around to trying them. I love citrus in any form and the idea of a the cookie/citrus combo was definitely speaking to me. For me though, I couldn’t get the idea of using mandarin oranges out of my mind. And when some lovely mandarins showed up at the market, it was time.
Delicious, easy, citrusy and oh so pretty! These orange slice topped cookies would make a great holiday gift or something new and different for this year’s cookie exchange.
The cookie itself is like a shortbread, with the added texture and flavour of ground almonds. The mandarin oranges are sliced thin and cooked along with the cookies, sweetened up with a sprinkling of sugar. The lovely thing about mandarin oranges is their thin peel. There’s just enough of it to add an ever-so-slight bitter note, as in marmalade.
The original recipe photo showed a bruleed top, where the cookies are either torched or put under the broiler to caramelize the sugar. Try as I might, I couldn’t really duplicate that. I tried the broiler and my kitchen torch. I tried more sugar. There was just too much moisture in the oranges to allow the sugar to caramelize. So that brings me to the thought that these cookies are ripe for experimentation. Maybe starting with candied orange slices or just drying them more before baking. Honestly though, they were absolutely delicious (and pretty) without the bruleed top.
These cookies are best on the day they are baked. They are still delicious as they sit longer, but the moisture from the orange will start to move in to the cookie and soften it up a bit. You can forestall that a bit by not keeping these cookies in an airtight container, but instead loosely cover them, to allow some of the moisture to escape. As the dough will keep well in the fridge, if you don’t need them all at once, you can cook them off in two (or more) batches to enjoy them at their freshest.
- 150g softened butter (1/2 cup + 2 1/2 Tbsp.)
- 1 egg
- 2 tsp. orange zest
- 200g ground almonds (2 cups)
- 100g white sugar (1/2 cup + 1 Tbsp.)
- 200g all-purpose flour (1 3/4 cups)
- 1 Tbsp. freshly squeezed orange juice
- 1 egg yolk
- 5-6 Mandarin oranges
- White sugar, for sprinkling
- Powdered (icing) sugar, for garnish
- Wash the oranges thoroughly under hot water and wipe with a towel. Cut into very thin slices (as thin as you can slice them and keep them in one piece) and place on a doubled-up paper towel. Before placing on cookies, flip them over on to fresh paper towel to dry the other side a bit.
- In a bowl with an electric mixer, or the bowl of a stand mixer, beat softened butter with the egg until light and fluffy.
- Add ground almonds, sugar, flour and orange zest/juice and mix until dough comes together. Shape dough into two rolls, about 2-inches each in diameter and put into the refrigerator for at least 3 hours.
- Heat oven to 350° F. (180C).
- Slice each log into cookies about 1/4-inch and place on a baking sheet. Using the bottom of a drinking cup with a bottom about 1 1/2-inches, dip bottom of glass in to a bowl of sugar and press in to cookies, making a small indentation. Brush the top of each cookie gently with the beaten egg yolk.
- Put one slice of mandarin orange in the indentation that you made on the top of each cookie. Sprinkle with more sugar and bake for 14-15 minutes. If you'd like to brown up the cookies a bit, sprinkle with a bit more sugar over the oranges and place under the broiler for a few minutes.
- Remove cookies to a cooling rack to cool, then sprinkle with powdered sugar.