Cookie Week ~ Orange Almond Bars

These bright citrusy bars are the perfect addition to a platter filled with rich chocolate treats.

1/2 cup butter, softened
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1 egg
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon finely shredded orange peel
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup sliced almonds, coarsely chopped
Orange Icing

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. In a medium mixing bowl, beat butter with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add about half of the flour, the sugar, egg, baking powder, orange peel, almond extract, and salt. Beat until combined; scraping sides of bowl occasionally. Beat in the remaining flour. Using hands, knead dough into a ball.

2. Divide dough into fourths. On a lightly floured surface, shape each portion into an 8-inch-long roll. Place two rolls 4 to 5 inches apart on each of two ungreased cookie sheets. Flatten with hands until rolls are 2 inches wide.

3. Brush flattened rolls with milk; sprinkle with almonds. Bake in preheated oven for 20 to 22 minutes or until bottoms are lightly browned. Cut warm rolls crosswise at a diagonal into 1-inch-wide bars. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool. Drizzle Orange Icing over cooled cookies. Makes 40 bars.

Orange Icing: In a small mixing bowl, stir together 1 cup sifted powdered sugar and 1/4 teaspoon almond extract. Stir in enough orange juice (3 to 4 teaspoons) to make an icing of drizzling consistency.

To Store: Place cookies in layers separated by waxed paper in an airtight container; cover. Store at room temperature for up to 1 week. Or freeze undrizzled bars for up to 3 months; thaw bars and drizzle with icing.

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