I never knew how nice walnuts could be until I moved to southern California. I always associated walnuts with a horrible, bitter aftertaste. It wasn't until a vendor at the Little Italy Farmer's Market in San Diego offered me a taste of his fresh walnuts that I realized how pleasant they can be. The mild, smooth flavour is extremely pleasant. After a brief discussion with him about walnuts, he informed me that the bitter flavour that I associated with walnuts is actually rancid oil in the walnut.
Just like fishy flavour, the flavour I associated with walnuts is due to the fact that they've gone off. Well, now I only cook with fresh walnuts that I've purchased at the farmer's market. Today, I bring you walnut cookies from The Sweet Spot: Asian-Inspired Desserts:
2 cups walnuts
1 1⁄3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1⁄3 cup sugar
½ tsp salt
1⁄3 cup packed light brown sugar
1 large egg
1 ½ tsp vanilla extract
Toast the walnuts in a hot oven, briefly (ten minutes, max). You want to release some flavour and darken them. Just a tad. Cool the walnuts to room temperature.
Really, the big difference after toasting walnuts is the smell. You can smell that nutty flavour.
Cream the butter and the white sugar in a mixer until well mixed and smooth.
Add the brown sugar, the egg, salt and vanilla and continue beating until smooth.
Add half the walnuts, and continue mixing until the walnuts are well smashed and smooth.
Mix all the dry ingredients (baking powder, soda and the flour), and stir together with a whisk to get well mixed. Add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture, and mix on low until all of the dry ingredients are nicely moistened.
Scrape the cookie dough into a bowl, cover and place in the fridge for a few hours, or over night. You want to harden the butter so that the cookies keep their shape. Also, cover the toasted walnuts so they stay fresh. When you're ready, preheat an oven to 325°F.
Prepare a cookie sheet with parchment paper or a Silpat baking mat. Scoop 1 inch balls of cookie dough onto the cookie sheet, keeping them roughly 2 inches apart.
Stab a walnut shard into each cookie ball. Bake in the oven for 15ish minutes, until the cookies have flattened out and are starting to turn a lovely golden brown.
Transfer to a cooling rack, and cool. Or not. These cookies stay soft and chewy for several days, but really are best straight out of the oven.
By Bbq Dude