These unusual buttery shortbread cookies are a family favorite. I have never come across a similar recipe. What makes them unusual is that they are topped with a thin layer of meringue, rather than having a meringue base. Then sprinkled with almonds, orange zest, and cinnamon. A delicious flavor combination.
Almond, Orange, and Cinnamon Meringue Topped Cookies
Difficulty Rating: Easy
Makes approximately 3 dozen cookies.
For the Cookie Dough
3 teaspoons grated orange zest, divided
3 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup cold butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (try also using shortening)
1/2 cup cold vegetable shortening
2 egg yolks
6 to 8 tablespoons cold milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
For the Merigue Topping
2 egg whites, at room temperature
1/4 cup confectioner’s sugar
3/4 cup sliced or chopped almonds
Cinnamon for dusting
Make the Dough: Pre heat oven to 325 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Place the orange zest between two paper towels and lightly press to remove any oils. Combine the egg yolks, 6 tablespoons of milk, and the vanilla in a small bowl and set aside.
Place the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and 1 teaspoon of the orange zest in a large bowl. Stir with a whisk until combined.
Using a pastry cutter or the tips your fingers, cut in the butter and shortening until mixture resembles coarse meal and no large pieces of butter or shortening remain.
Gradually add the egg yolk mixture stirring with a fork until a rough dough is formed. If the dough seems too dry, add the remaining milk one tablespoon at a time until dough starts to come together. Place the dough on a lightly floured surface or board and knead briefly.
Form into a ball, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for a minimum of 1 hour and up to 24 hours.
Make the Meringue Topping: Place the egg whites in a small bowl. Using a hand mixer or whisk, gradually add the confectioner’s sugar, beating until soft peaks are formed.
Make the Cookies: Cut the dough into four quarters. Roll each quarter into a 1-inch diameter log.
Using a rolling pin, roll along the top to flatten dough to 1/4-inch thickness.
Spread a thin layer of meringue on top. If the meringue starts to weep, beat briefly with a whisk. Using a sharp knife, cut into 2-inch-long diagonal pieces.
Sprinkle the tops of each cookie with the remaining orange zest, then cinnamon, and sliced almonds. Using a spatula, transfer the cookies onto the baking sheet placing 1-inch apart. Bake for approximately 20 minutes, until tops are lightly browned. Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet.