Saturday, December 6, 2008
Maple Walnut Icebox Cookies
Normally I don't like shortbread or slice & bake cookies all that much. There are always exceptions of course, and this recipe is most definitely one of them. Rich, deep maple cookies in a shortbread-type cookie that is rolled in walnuts -- oh yeah, this is an exception. And except for a little bit of mess trying to roll the log of dough in walnuts, it is also quite easy to make. Baking them is a breeze of course because you simply slice the logs into individual cookies and bake. Nothing easier.
This recipe, along with the sublime Pistachio Lime Thins, which both come from the icebox cookie section of Carole Walter's Great Cookies book -- is perfect for Christmas cookie shipments too. Both cookie doughs can be made a day or two ahead of time and then sliced and baked quickly and easily. They are great-tasting fresh from the oven, but they are even better after they have cooled and settled for a couple of days, after the flavors have had a chance to mellow and meld.
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tsps maple extract
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter,slightly firm
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 1/2 tsps vanilla extract
2 1/2 cup walnuts, medium chopped, divided
1 egg white, lightly beaten with 2 tsps water
Strain together the flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade, pulse 5 or 6 times the combine the brown and granulated sugars. Sprinkle the maple extract onto the sugar and process to incorporate, about 10 seconds. Stop the processor and scrape the bowl to release any extract that may have settled to the bottom. Process again for 8 to 10 seconds.
In the large bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the butter on medium low speed. Add the sugar mixture and mix for 2 minutes, scraping the side of the bowl as needed. Add the egg, egg yolk and vanilla and mix until well blended. On low speed add one cup of the walnuts and the dry ingredients, mixing just until the flour disappears.
Form the dough into a ball and divide it in half. Using plastic wrap, form each half into a log -- the thicker the log, the bigger the finished cookies. Brush each log with some of the egg wash, then roll the logs into the remaining walnuts, pressing lightly to get the walnut to adhere. Wrap the logs with plastic wrap, twisting the ends to seal securely. Refrigerate for 1 hour or until firm. The dough will keep in the fridge for up to 3 days.
When you are ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350. Line baking sheets with silpats or parchment paper.
Slice the logs into cookies about a 1/4 inch thick. Place the slices 2 inches apart on the cookie sheets. Bake for 11-12 minutes until the edges start to brown. Remove from the oven and let rest for 1 minute before transferring them to cooling racks.