Orange-Almond Shortbread & a Cup of Tea

I love coffee.
It is the gift of my mornings when I first wake up.
It is a reward in the evening sometimes for me.
It is a favorite treat to enjoy with a friend.  It is comfort on a cold, winter day.
I love the richness, the warmth, the depth, the boost!
And then there is hot tea.  I like it. I do.
But I don’t LOVE it.  Not like coffee. Though, I am trying to love it.
I am trying, because I know it is good for me.
I know that it is far better to drink hot tea throughout a cold, winter day than coffee.
And on a winter day, I like to have a warm drink in my hand as often as I can.
I guess it’s just that I prefer the strong, bold flavor of coffee to a weaker, blander hot tea.
But there are some types that I really enjoy – ones with depth to them. Republic of Tea is my favorite line of teas.  Ginger Peach is a winner.  And I like Mango and Blackberry.   Good Earth Tea is yummy, when I’m in a spicy mood.
And tea parties with my girls help me to love tea.
I mean how could they not?
We had this tea party the other day.  It was one of those cold and gray days.  We made Peach tea with Honey and a “spot of cream”. (My girls really would like spoons full of sugar and honey.  I try to tell them that they serve the same purpose in sweetening, but they really want double-sweet).  At our tea party,  I asked them what they thought we should talk about.
I wondered to myself, “What are you supposed to talk about at a tea party?”
So, I decided to pose the question: “What is your favorite season and why?”

It was a fun conversation.  The girls both quickly responded that summer was their favorite because there was a break from school, and they got to swim at the pool, and Lainey loves summer clothing (she likes that she can wear a swim suit or tank top and flip flops everyday). I said my favorite seasons are fall and spring.  Fall used to be my favorite, but in the past few years, spring has taken first place.  After a bleak winter, the relief of spring, (the sunshine and blooming of flowers, trees and grass) is so very needed that spring wins as the best!

This defense made them rethink their choice. So, they decided they loved spring, and fall, and winter for many different reasons.
Our fun conversation made the tea even tastier.
The other thing that makes me really enjoy hot tea is a nice piece (or 2) of homemade Almond-Orange Shortbread to go along with it!
A little salt.
Some powdered sugar.
The zest of an orange.
Almond extract.
Sliced almonds.

Yum. Yum. Yum and yum!

It is easy to mix together and, after freezing, it is simply “slice and bake”! The cookies keep well for a couple of weeks in a container on the counter, to have whenever you put the kettle on for tea.

Also, they are a nice treat for people who don’t want a sweet-sweet dessert (like the chocolate sheet cake I posted last week)!

If you aren’t so keen on the sliced almonds, you
can omit them or substitute another ingredient in place of them.  If you don’t
love a hint of orange in your shortbread, you can
omit or substitute that as well.  The basic shortbread
recipe is worth making.

The recipe is from Martha Stewart, so you know
it’s got to be good!

These also go well with a hot cup of coffee.  That is, if you’re one of those people.

Almond-Orange Shortbread
2 sticks butter, room temperature
1 cup powdered sugar
3/4 tsp. almond extract
1/2 tsp. salt (use a little less if using unsalted butter)
2 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
Grated zest of 1 orange
3/4 cup sliced almonds

In mixing bowl, beat butter, sugar, extract, and salt until smooth.
Mix on low speed, add flour and zest.
Mix just until dough forms.
With spatula or hands, mix in almonds gently.

Form dough into a rectangular log (12 inches long, by 3 inches wide, and 1 inch thick)
Wrap log in waxed paper.
Freeze until firm (at least an hour and up to 3 months).
If freezing longer than a day, double wrap the log in plastic wrap and a ziploc bag

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Remove dough from freezer. (If it has been in the freezer a long time, let it sit at room temperature 30 minutes so it slices without crumbling).

With a sharp knife, cut dough into 1/4 inch thick slices.
Place flat on un-greased baking sheet, or baking stone at least 1 inch apart.
Bake until edges begin to turn golden – 20 minutes or so.
Cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes. Transfer cookies to rack to cool completely.



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