To celebrate good food, holiday cheer, and to welcome the New Year, we’re happy to present a feast of favorite recipes, as well as wine and champagne pairing ideas, from our authors. We’ll start today with something sweet: delectable orange-almond confections from Darra Goldstein, author of The Gastronomica Reader and The Georgian Feast, and Editor-In-Chief of Gastronomica: The Journal of Food and Culture. There’s lots more on the menu, all week long. Enjoy!

Darra_GoldsteinOrange Balls

I make batches of these luscious confections to give as house gifts throughout the holidays. Since they need to be made well in advance for the flavors to meld, they’re perfect for entertaining. During the dark days of December I welcome the bright orange flavor and burst of Vitamin C they provide. This recipe is adapted from Mary Taylor Simeti’s “Bitter Almonds.”

1 1/3 cups whole blanched almonds
1 cup sugar (plus more for sprinkling)
1/2 medium navel orange
1 tablespoon rum
1 teaspoon pure almond extract

Scrub the orange and wipe it dry, then cut it in half. Place the orange half, almonds, and 1 cup sugar in the bowl of a food processor and process until the almonds are ground medium-fine. Scrape the mixture into a bowl and stir in the rum and almond extract.

Sprinkle a wooden board or other work surface with sugar. Knead the dough lightly on the sugar and then divide it in half. Roll each half into a log about 1 1/4″ in diameter. Cut each log into 1/4″ pieces. Dip the cut sides in the sugar, then shape the pieces into balls by rolling them between your palm and the board. Coat the balls with additional sugar and leave them to dry for 3 hours.

Place the orange balls in decorative paper candy cups and store airtight for 3 to 4 days before serving. They will keep for several weeks.

Makes about 2 dozen balls.