Walnut Cream Cheese Shortbread Cookies - Recipe

I found this recipe when I went looking for the most pinned cookie recipe on Pinterest. This walnut cream cheese cookie came up in several different lists.  It's a Martha Stewart recipe - surprising - I tend to think of her recipes on par with Betty Crocker.  They are easy and straightforward, but not special.  Well, this one is special. Walnut Cream Cheese Shortbread Cookies are going in the permanent rotation.

These shortbread cookies have a simple classic appearance and elegant flavor.  They are an icebox type where the dough is frozen in a log and then sliced into rounds.  The cream cheese lends a nice tang to the dough, and the sugar becomes crisp and caramelized on the bottom without being too sweet, which complements the crunchy, slightly bitter flavor of the walnuts.  These are an excellent served with tea or coffee.

Every December I make cookies to give to friends and neighbors.  There are several recipes that always make an appearance: Grandma Jone's sugar cookies, and the best ever chocolate chip cookies, then there is a rotating recipe or two that I try out for the year.  This December, I had one dud recipe,  a mint chocolate cookie.  I was hoping would resemble a Girl Scout Thin Mint, but did not.  The real winner this year was Walnut Cream Cheese Shortbread!  I have been complimented and ask for the recipe enough times I decided to write it up for the blog.

The ingredients are straight forward.

I have tried this recipe both with English walnuts (Juglans regia), the kind you'll find at the grocery store and black walnuts (Juglans nigra) which are the kind we can forage and are native to the United States.  The black walnuts have a richer, earthier flavor and I prefer them in this recipe and for baking in general.

I found silicone baking mats useful for both shaping the dough logs and freezing them.  They are much more functional than parchment paper, because the baking mats have more structure and the dough easily releases from the silicone after freezing.  I also used the mats for baking the cookies because short breads are easy to burn and silicone mats do a nice job of distributing and dissipating heat.  Plus silicone baking mats are reusable!  In my journey to reducing my family's garbage this felt like a real win.

Walnut Cream Cheese Shortbread Cookies
                               via Martha Stewart Living, December 2004 issue

4 cups unbleached flour
1 1/4 teaspoons course salt
2 cups unsalted butter (4 sticks), room temperature
6 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1 1/4 cups sugar
2 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups walnut halves (1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped, 1 cup finely crushed)

Whisk the flour and salt together and set aside.  In a stand mixer with beater attachment, cream the butter and cream cheese until lightened and fluffy - approximately 2 min on medium-high.  Beat in sugar and vanilla.  On a slow speed mix in the flour/salt mixture until just combined - do not over mix.  Remove the bowl and stir in 1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped walnuts by hand.

Divide the dough in half and make two logs of dough about 2" in diameter.    Then freeze the logs for 30 minutes or up to 2 weeks.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Remove the dough log and roll it in half of crushed walnut pieces.  If you have trouble getting the walnut pieces to stick, either crush them smaller or wait for the dough to soften slightly and the bits will stick better.  Slice the log into cookie rounds 1/4 inch thick.  Place them on a baking sheet with silicone mat leaving one inch between each cookie.  Bake for 18-20 minutes, rotating half way through until the bottom and edges are browned.

1 comment:

  1. Wow do those ever look good! I'll probably substitute pecans for walnuts, and come to think of it I could try some of my ricotta in place of cream cheese. But isn't that what recipes are for? LOL