Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Orange-Almond Butter Buttons . . . (Christmas Cookie Production Continues!)

And the Christmas cookie parade marches on . . . here comes another one! These unassuming little cookies are crisp, almondy, and permeated with the delicate zing of orange zest and fresh-squeezed orange juice--the perfect partner to a hot cup of Christmas tea. Adapted from a recipe called Lime Pecan Butter Cookies in the book Simple American Cooking by Chuck Williams (of Williams- Sonoma fame), I chose to substitute the fruit and nut of my choice. In addition to that, I thought they looked remarkably like diminutive buttons, and we all know that buttons require button holes. I did a little rewording of the instructions, and I added the possibility of a sweet orange glaze to top them off.

The base recipe is kind of unusual for a butter cookie in that it contains an egg white and it undergoes quite a long period of beating before the flour is added in. It's not rich in the way that shortbread is, but it does have a subtle buttery quality that's just right.

If you prefer a sweeter version than just the plain cookie, you can ice it easily with a quickly made glaze of confectioners' sugar and fresh orange juice. Mmmmm . . .

Orange-Almond Butter Buttons

(For a printable version of this recipe click here!)

2 cups All Purpose flour (I used bleached)
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/4 tsp. salt
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 cup unblanched almonds, coarsely chopped
1 small orange, unpeeled
3/4 unsalted butter, cut into cubes (I used slightly softened butter)
1 egg white (I used a large egg)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

In a bowl, sift together the flour, cornstarch, and salt. Set aside.

In a food processor fitted with the metal blade, combine 1/4 of the sugar and all of the chopped almonds. Pulse until finely chopped. Set aside.

Using the fine holes of a grater, grate off the zest of the entire orange. Cut the orange in half and squeeze out the juice (remove any seeds). Set the zest and juice aside.

In the bowel of a mixer, combine the remaining sugar and the butter and beat on medium speed for about 5 minutes, until light. Add in the egg white, all of the zest, and about 2/3 of the orange juice. Continue beating on medium speed until fluffy, 8 to 10 minutes. Scrape the sides of the bowl as needed.

Reduce the speed to low and carefully beat in the flour mixture, a little at a time. Add in the ground almonds and beat until well blended.

Make balls of dough about 1" in circumference. Place the balls on your parchment-covered cookie sheet about an inch apart and press your thumb down across each one.

Using a pointed skewer, poke four little holes in each one, just as they'd be placed in a button.

Bake until they start to turn lightly golden around the edges, 12 to 18 minutes. Let the cookies cool on a rack.

To make a thin glaze: In a small bowl, stir together up to one cup of confectioners sugar and the remainder of the orange juice. Adjust the thickness as you prefer by adding more or less juice. If it's thin enough, it's easy to simply pour it over each cookie if they're placed on a rack over a cookie sheet with sides. Let the glazed cookies sit out to dry for half an hour or so before storing them.

(If you'd like to comment on this post or read any existing comments, just click on the purple COMMENTS below!)


Kate at Serendipity said...

Oranges, check! Almonds, check! Butter, check! What's not to like about this recipe? Thanks!

Jane said...

Thanks, Kate! Sounds like you're in cookie production mode lately too! I'd better buzz over to your blog to see what you're up to.

:) Jane

Kathy said...

Jane! Nice to meet you !!! Thank you for stopping by! I WAS BORN IN BERKLEY, MICHIGAN!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I almost fell over when you said you live there! I have photos of the sweet little house I was born in. I lived there til I was 7 then moved to Mt. Clemens, Mich. then on up-north to Cadillac... Amazing! I love you foodie bloggers...I learn so much! The button cookies are now on my list! I tried to follow before I left this comment but wouldn't let me,,,I'll try again when done. Loved visiting....I'll be keeping an eye on you, xoxo~Kathy @ Sweet Up-North Mornings...

Marysol said...

Too cute for mere words—but I'll try...
Jane, there's nothing NOT to love in your cookie recipe!
From the orange to the almonds. What a wonderful combination of flavors you have going there.

I've fallen behind on the cookie baking marathon this year, but I still plan to bake a few repeat offenders, and add your recipe to the ever-growing list.

Happy Holidays Jane!

Karen said...

Your cookies look fantastic. I've been using recipe sites such as to get ideas for my Christmas cookies.

Jane said...

Hi Kathy, Born in Berkley?? Well, that's it--I am going to have to email you directly to talk some more!
:) Jane

Hello there Marysol,
So glad you feel that way about the recipe! Sometimes I think if a cookie isn't gooey or chocolaty, maybe no one would really like it but me! I'm happy to hear that's not the case.

Happy holidays to you too, Marysol!

:) Jane

Hi Karen--
Just checked out Looks promising! Seems like there is a growing proliferation of aggregate recipe sites popping up just lately. I keep hearing of new ones left and right. It seems to be the "in" thing!

Thanks for stopping by,

Kitchen Butterfly said...

Lovely. I'm all geared make an orange and almond cake to take to work tomorrow! I love the combo- light and fragrant, not to mention tasty

Jane said...

Hi Butterfly,

Yes, I love the orange and almond combo in baked goods, like cake, too. It just smells fantastic, doesn't it?


My Casa Bella said...

Hi Jane, thank you so much for your sweet comment, I'm dealing with my health issues one day at a time. Getting a second opinion though. Your cookies look so YUMMY! Today a great day for baking its snowing, getting up to 18 inches here, yea!!