Orange Blossom Butter Cookies
What defines a great cookbook? To me, it’s a complicated question. I love a cookbook that offers practical tips hand in hand with quality recipes. I also appreciate a cookbook with gorgeous photography, human anecdotes and clearly written instructions with candid recommendations (the how and the why behind the steps).
I received the cookbook “an edible mosaic,” by Faith Gorsky, as part of a basket of ethnic food and goodies I got from the silent auction at Buffalo Without Borders, an international food event to benefit the International Institute of Buffalo. I’ve really enjoyed the book’s style and it’s fun knowing that Gorsky is from Buffalo originally. Her cookbook has a wonderful variety of recipes, with a focus on Middle Eastern recipes, primarily dishes from the Levant (Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Palestine and more). While I’ve loved getting ideas and making recipes from the front 85% of the book, which includes small plates, sides and main courses, I recently ventured into the back chapters to explore the dessert and beverage recipes.
I’ve now made more than a few of them, but this recipe for butter cookies is the only one I’ve made more than once so far. My husband adores these cookies, and they’re a hit everywhere I bring them. I recently shared some with my friend, Smita Chutke, and I thought it would be the perfect time to share this easy recipe with all of you. The cookies are not too sweet and perfectly buttery — very reminiscent of a shortbread cookie. They possess a wonderfully bright aroma and slightly floral taste from the orange blossom water. Click here to see the recipe as I made it:
Orange Blossom Butter Cookies
- 1 cup clarified butter or sweet cream butter, at room temperature
- 3/4 cup powdered sugar
- 2 teaspoons orange blossom water (may also use rose water or do a 50/50 split)
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 4 tablespoons Marcona almonds (I love to use the salted almonds for contrast)
- Preheat oven to 300F; line baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Beat the butter, sugar and orange blossom water until light and fluffy. Gradually stir in the flour with a wooden spoon. (Do not use a hand or stand mixer at this point; the texture will change for the worse!)
- To briefly chill the dough, cover the bowl with a plastic wrap and put in the refrigerator or freezer just until the dough stiffens slightly (about 7 minutes in the freezer).
- Shape the cookies into balls by using a scoop or your hands. Lightly press one nut into each. Space one inch apart on the baking sheet. Bake until golden brown on the bottom and still white on top, about 20-25 minutes.
- Cool for 5 minutes on the tray and then transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling.
A few notes: first, like with all cookies loaded with butter, you want to ensure you really let the butter come to room temperature for best results. Furthermore, opt for a butter that tastes so delicious, you love to eat it smeared on a piece of bread. Since the butter is a star here, it’s essential to optimizing the flavor.
If you can’t find Marcona almonds or you aren’t a fan, opt for a blanched almond to decorate each, or try a pine nut or raw pistachio.
The flavor of orange blossom water is lovely and delicate, and slightly less floral to me than rose water, in the sense that it took me awhile to convince my brain that rose water is edible and not perfume. With that said, I now adore rose flavored food when made well too, so I have made these cookies with rose water, as well as half orange blossom and half rose waters (1 teaspoon of each).
Lastly, Gorsky’s recipe called for 1 cup of powdered sugar, but I thought they were a little sweeter than ideal the first time I made them, so I’ve cut back on the sugar ever since. Feel free to add a bit back in if you’d like.
If you’ve never had a dessert featuring orange blossom (or rose) water, go ahead and give it a try. My taste for it has grown over the years to a place of love, so if it’s been awhile, I encourage you to revisit it.
Nina lives in Buffalo, NY. An adventurous home cook, she loves to eat, cook, bake & enjoy life. She writes/blogs about food, tweets adventures & other passions.