Monday, December 6, 2010

Baking with Linda - Walnut Shortbread Cookies

Baking with my children is a favorite pasttime in our home. This week, my three year old son-shine and I made Walnut Shortbread Cookies. Using a Krups electric coffee grinder, he scooped handfuls into the mill and, once the protective top was in place, pressed down firmly on it to start grinding up the walnuts - this recipe called for 1.5 cups finely chopped walnuts, 4.5 cups all-purpose flour, 2 cups vegetable shortening or butter (room temp), 2.5 cups packed light brown sugar, and 2 teaspoons vanilla extract.

Combine flour and finely-ground walnuts.  Cream shortening and brown sugar in a large, separate bowl.  Beat in vanilla. Gradually, blend in the dry ingredients.

Pouring and placing the ingredients into our KitchenAid heavy duty mixer is something the little one loves to do!  And, once the pair of interlocking splatter guards are in place (thank goodness for them!), he lets the powerful mixer rip and hum.  Nothing mixes as evenly or easily as the lifesaving mixer, which my husband (god bless him) picked up for me over a decade ago.

Pinch off walnut-sized pieces of shortbread dough and place 1.5 inches apart on ungreased baking sheet.  Flatten with back of teaspoon (dust spoon with flour first so it doesn't stick). Press half a walnut onto top of cookie.

Bake on ungreased cookie sheet in 350 degree oven
 for 12-15 minutes
or until light golden brown.

My Little Helper Loads up the Walnuts.
Everyone Home Should Have a  Recipe Book
Just for Cookies
 Delicious topped with a sweet dusting of powdered confectioner's sugar. My oldest son loves the taste of these cookies with a tall glass of milk or hot cocoa but, ironicaly, prefers them with the half walnuts removed.

Always helpful, my thirteen-year-old son held these silk poinsettias in place while I took the photo.  Chip proof and lightweight, my red lucite serving tray  is one of my favorites. With the half-walnut on top, these cookies are tempting and elegant.

Timesaver:  If you want to bake ahead, these cookies freeze beautifully in freezer-safe Tupperware.

Economizing Key: If you don't have enough walnuts, you can top the remaining cookies with pecan halves instead. In fact, this shortbread recipe can be made by completely replacing walnuts with pecans. If you don't have another cookie to pair these with, place dried apricots here and there in between the cookies. Fruit and nuts - good combo.

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