Although I have cooked my way through a good portion of Mireille Johnston's wonderful Cuisine of the Sun over the years, I hadn't tried these delicious crumbly walnut cookies until this week. I checked out the recipe because shuna mentioned she liked them. They seemed to be just the kind of cookies my elderly mother prefers with her tea, simple, but rich and interesting. When I go to visit her, she generally peeks in my bag to see if there are any cookies. I think she will be pleased with these when I stop in after work to see her.
These cookies could not be easier to make, and have few ingredients. It makes sense to use the best butter and freshest walnuts you can get. That being said, although I did have some really nice amish butter, the walnuts had been in the freezer forever, and the cookies are delicious anyhow. If you have a food processor, you can make them in a flash.
Otherwise, it might be hard to get the nuts chopped up finely enough, though you could probably do it carefully in a blender, a bit at a time. What you want is to get the walnuts to about the texture of steelcut oatmeal, and to be sure to stop before they turn into nut butter. If you are using a food processor, chop the nuts first, in bursts, and dump them out. No need to wash the container in between.
This is what you need:
1 cup finely chopped walnuts
1/4 lb butter, softened
1/4 cup sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup unbleached AP flour
2 tbsps granulated sugar
2 tbsps confectioner's sugar
Preheat oven to 300 F .Chop walnuts and remove from food processor. Add butter and sugar to processor and whirr to cream. Add vanilla and flour and walnuts. Pulse until mixture clumps. Butter 2 baking sheets. Form the dough into very small balls-the recipe makes about 40- and set them about 2" apart. Bake 20-30 minutes, just until pale brown. Sprinkle cookies with granulated sugar, while warm. With a spatula, remove to a wire rack, over a piece of wax paper or parchment. When they are completely cool, sieve the confectioners sugar over all.
I think these little cookies are terrific. They would be nice with a fruit salad or a simple ice cream, and are very good with a cup of tea. I plan to serve them with some honey/thyme/saffron ice cream I'm working on, about which, more later.