On Cloud Nine: Vanilla Almond Orange Cloud Cookies

Recovering from a two day dessert festival and reveling in its sugar coma aftermath, I feel like I didn’t do as much baking as usual this week.

To keep track of my pastry progress, my friend thinks that I should include a butter count on my blog… some sort of widget that shows the number of butter sticks that I use during the week.  What do you think?  The count this week would be rather low, but I managed to throw together some of these alluring vanilla almond orange cloud cookies from a Joy the Baker recipe.

After fighting through the smog of your daily grind, it’s possible to recognize that you’ve actually been on cloud nine the whole time.  Busyness can distract you from the fact that you are actually achieving your goals and (somehow) managing to squeeze in some fun!  This week, between phone meetings and scrambling to feel like I accomplished everything on my March to-do list, I was able to see Samantha Bee live in the studio, indulge in a vegan rainbow latte from the ultra adorable Chinatown nook The Good Sort, and hunt down an art opening featuring Yoshitomo Nara, probably my favorite artist of all time.  I’ve even gotten closer to a tattoo decision that I’ve been deliberating on (sorry, mom).  Next week is looking pretty snazzy as well, with the opening of Eggslut (assemble, brunch gang!) and a film screening at the Japan Society.

Make a batch of these cloud cookies and celebrate the fact that your life is slowly but surely drifting in the right direction.  Each mouthful is like taking a bite of a flawless fluffy cumulus cloud that is catching the spring sunlight in just the right way…  You know the clouds; the perfect ones that hover over your picnic blanket in Bryant Park.

If you like chewy cookies, this is THE cookie for you.  The almond paste gives the cookies a marzipan-y level of chewiness, and the orange zest brightens up the almond flavor.  It was invigorating to work with oranges instead of the typical lemon for a change.

Scroll down for the recipe!

Vanilla Almond Orange Cloud Cookies

This is Joy The Baker’s recipe, with a few slight alterations! (makes 18 to 21 cookies)

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons orange zest
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 10 ounces almond paste
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
  • powdered sugar (for dusting)

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Prepare two non-stick baking sheets and set aside.
  2. In a small bowl, mix together granulated sugar, orange zest, and vanilla extract.
  3. Place sugar in the bowl of an electric stand mixer, using a paddle attachment.  Add the almond paste and salt.  Beat on medium speed creating a crumbly sugar and almond mixture.
  4. While almond mixture is combining in the mixer, place two egg whites in a small bowl.  Whisk  with a fork until loose and frothy.  This will help in pouring the egg whites into the mixer.  If the eggs are unbeaten, the eggs won’t pour smoothly.
  5. With the mixer on medium speed, gradually pour the egg whites in to the crumbly almond and sugar mixture.  Beat until a smooth paste is formed.  Add the almond extract and beat to combine.
  6. Scoop batter by the tablespoonful onto the prepared baking sheet (it will be too sticky to roll).  Sprinkle with powdered sugar.
  7. Bake cookies for 25 minutes or until cookies are lightly browned on top (mine took a little longer).  Remove from the oven and allow to cool on the pan before transferring to a cooling rack.

 

Sakura Branch Cookies: Happy Spring!

In honor of the first day of spring this past week, I made these cookies that mimic the spring branches that are swarming the sidewalks and shops in New York’s flower district right now.  I was delighted to stumble upon that part of town earlier this month… to my winter-weary eyes, it was proof that New York really has it all.

My first weekend of spring is shaping up to be pretty darn sweet.  I’m excited to attend the Dessert Goals festival.  Yes, the same festival that I went crazy for last autumn.  As the professionals say, dessert is always a good idea.  In addition to attending one of their food styling workshops on Saturday, I’ll be volunteering there on Sunday… anything to make the sugar-fueled dream last a little longer!  One day just isn’t enough, as I learned the hard way last year, racing to eat my way through sugary booth after oh-so-sugary booth.

There’s a fresh crop of vendors at the festival this spring, and I’m especially excited to sample the churros s’mores from Boqueria and the mini eclairs from Rare Bird Sweets.  Dessert Goals is without a doubt the best place to hunt down interesting new dessert mash-ups.

Just earlier this week, I was chatting with a friend about trying the Whole 30 diet… where you cut out dairy, sugar (gasp!), grains, and alcohol for 30 days.  What better time than the beginning of spring to infuse a little extra energy into my life?  I resolved to try it, but then, being honest with myself, decided that 30 days was not realistic and started considering a Hadley-customized “Whole 7” diet.

Nope, I still haven’t started that yet.  With Dessert Goals looming and with the Cherry Bombe Jubilee event on the horizon, it is truly my duty to abstain from healthy living, for the time being!

There will be plenty of time to go all-in later.  Balance truly is key, so for now, I’ll keep trying to inject my creations with fresh fruits and alternative ingredients.  I’ll save the Whole 7 low-down for another blog post.

Hope your spring is off to a gorgeous start, stay sweet!