Walnut Cookies

WalnutHornsVertbfLOWell… the OFFICIAL title of this first place winner of the 2010 Chicago Tribune Holiday Cookie Contest is ‘Grandma’s Walnut Horns’ – but I know neither Beth Grabowski nor her granny – so let’s just cut to the chase: these are GOOOOOOOD walnut cookies!

Ermmm. And thank you, Ms. Grabowski, and your granny, too, for a fine addition to our holiday cookie assortment.

Actually, to me, they LOOK more like ‘zut-ques’ – the leftover bits of dough my mom would sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar, twirl together, and toss into the oven with the pie(s) – tho’ this pastry is lovely, and the walnut filling a whole step above mere cinnamon and sugar.

One more bit of full disclosure before we get to the recipe.

I did not make these, Rich did – tho’ I added a bit of help and hint when asked (and sometimes when NOT asked – I need to watch that – it IS, after all, his kitchen, too).

OK, I lied – one MORE thing. The dough needs at least six hours in the fridge before you can start baking – so you would be best served to make the dough one day and plan on making the cookies the next.

•2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, softened – Rich used our preferred combination of one half regular (salted) butter and one half Crisco
•2 cups flour
•3/4 cup sour cream
•1 egg yolk, beaten
•1 cup each: light brown sugar and ground walnuts – we have been using only dark brown sugar in every recipe that calls for it – we prefer the richer, slightly more molasses-y flavor
•1 teaspoon cinnamon
•Confectioners’ sugar, optional – Ms. Grabowski (or, I suspect, The Tribune Editors) may think this optional – but we thought it made the cookie

Mix butter with flour in medium bowl by hand or with electric mixer. Add sour cream to egg yolk; mix. Add to flour mixture; beat until sticky dough forms. Divide dough into four sections; wrap individually in plastic wrap. Refrigerate at least 6 hours.

Heat oven to 350º. Mix brown sugar, walnuts and cinnamon in a bowl. Take one section of dough from the refrigerator; sprinkle flour on both sides of the dough. Roll the dough out on a lightly floured surface to about 1/8 -inch thick. Spread a thin layer of filling on the dough, almost to the edges. Cut the dough with a pizza cutter into quarters; cut into 3 to 4 wedges per quarter.

Starting at the widest end, gently roll up each wedge like a crescent roll. Place on greased, light-colored cookie sheets with the tail end of the dough tucked under; bake 13-18 minutes per batch. Cool; sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar.

Ms. Grabowski went on to note that she often doubles the recipe, and that the cookies will be fine if frozen for a couple of weeks.

One batch is said to make 64 cookies. I didn’t count how many Rich got, but I managed to sample several; for quality control, of course 😉

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