Archive for: walnut
One way to breathe some new life into a simple chocolate chip cookie recipe is to start by adding some new mix-ins to the cookie dough. Nuts will add crunch and a little extra flavor, but adding dried fruit can really change the overall taste of the cookie. Dried cranberries, for instance, can add a sweet-tart flavor and a lot of color to cookies, while raisins add a more subtle sweetness. These Chocolate Chip Cookies with Walnuts and Apricots are one of my current favorite chocolate chip cookie variations. They are packed with crunchy toasted walnuts, super-sweet dried apricots and, of course, plenty of chocolate chips.
The first thing you need to do for these cookies is to coarsely chop your walnuts and dried apricots. Both untoasted and toasted walnuts will work, but if you have toasted and lightly salted walnuts you will get the best contrast in your finished cookies. Dried apricots come in both sulphured and unsulphured versions. The sulphured apricots are always much brighter in color and they tend to be much more moist and tender. Both types of apricots will work in this recipe, though I tend to prefer using sulphured apricots personally and that is what I used in the cookies pictured here.
I included a lot of walnuts, apricots and chocolate chips in these cookies, so you will get a lot of goodies in each bite. The cookies are crisp on the outside and slightly chewy on the inside, although a few extra minutes in the oven will make the cookies much crispier overall if you want to add some extra crunch to your batch. The walnuts and apricots go very well together, and both contrast nicely with the chocolate chips. If you want to mix up the ratios for the mix-ins used in the cookies, feel free to adjust them to suit your own tastes. This recipe makes a medium sized batch of cookies and can be doubled if you want to serve a bigger group (or just want to eat more cookies).
Butterscotch may conjure up images of hard, toffee-like candies, but the building blocks of butterscotch are just brown sugar, butter and vanilla and it is easy to infuse a butterscotch flavor into many different recipes by using these elements. These Butterscotch and Walnut Blondies are a perfect example. The blondies use a generous amount of brown sugar that melds well with the flavor of the butter in the blondie batter and delivers a rich and not-too-sweet butterscotch flavor to these satisfyingly chewy bar cookies.
The blondies are easy to make and only require a few ingredients, all of which you probably have in your pantry if you bake on a regular basis. The most important element of these brownies is the brown sugar, which is what really gives them their butterscotch flavor. Light brown or golden brown sugar is the best choice for this recipe, as dark brown sugar will give the brownies a stronger molasses note that will dominate the butterscotch. Like my basic brownie recipe, these don’t use any leavening. This ensures that they keep a chewy texture, a very tight crumb and don’t become cakey or dry when they’re in the oven.
My favorite part of these blondies is the contrast between the chewiness of the blondies themselves and the crispness of the walnuts. I use untoasted walnuts, which still have a nice crunch but seem to have a more pronounced buttery flavor to them than toasted walnuts. You could use other nuts in these, though the walnuts work so well that they’re bound to win you over even if you’re not a big walnut fan.
As tasty as pecan pie and other similar nut pies are, that rich filling can sometimes make the pies a little bit heavy. This Citrus Walnut Tart is a nut-filled dessert that is a little bit lighter overall, but no less rich in flavor. The tart starts with a cookie-like base that has a buttery flavor and a nice hint of crunch to it. It is topped with walnuts and a sweet, maple and citrus syrup.
The tart is easy to put together because the crust is made with the creaming method, like many cookie doughs, and there is no need to fuss with a pastry crust, pie weights or anything like that. It is simply pressed into the pan and baked. I used a lightly beaten egg white to create a little bit of a seal on the bottom crust to prevent the filling from saturating it and making it soggy. As you make it, it may not seem like there is that much syrup to create the filling for this tart, and that is true. This is because the walnuts are the star here and the citrusy syrup simply serves to give them a flavorful coating and bring new flavors into the dessert.
If you don’t have a tart pan, you can also press this crust into a 9-inch square pan and come up the sides of the baking dish about 1/3 of an inch. Although you’ll have to serve it in squares rather than slices, you’ll still get all the flavor of the original dessert. In fact, this is a great option if you’re looking for a slightly more casual way to serve this, or for something to take to a holiday party where bars might serve more people than a tart would.
Candied nuts are one of the easiest snack foods to make and eat. I like them all year round, but they are especially great around the holidays because they’re an easy snack to put out when family and friends come out to visit, and they’re a fantastic homemade gift to take when you go for visit them. This year, I’m big on walnuts and while I’ve used pecans, almonds and cashews in the past, walnuts are my nut of choice at the moment. Walnuts are full of protein, fiber and Omega-3′s, and while I’ll never turn down a holiday cookie, even I have to admit that this is a slightly healthier holiday snack!
I tossed untoasted walnuts in a lightly beaten egg white, then added in vanilla sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, allspice and salt to create a sweet and spicy coating for the nuts. The nuts are spread on a baking sheet and toasted until the sweet coating is nice and crispy. Make sure to get them in one even layer on the baking sheet and try to coat as evenly as possible. Areas with very thick coatings of the glaze may come out to be a bit chewy and not quite as crisp as more evenly covered nuts.
Vanilla sugar is easy to make with a leftover vanilla bean (although I used Rodelle Vanilla Sugar in this batch) and is a great ingredient to keep on hand for recipes like this one, that benefit from a hint of vanilla flavor. You can use regular sugar and add in about 1/4 tsp vanilla extract if you don’t have vanilla sugar, or simply omit the vanilla altogether.
The finished nuts are delicious and very addictive! There is just the right amount of salt in the mix to keep these from being overly sweet, and the buttery walnuts go very nicely with the sugar and spices. Store these in an airtight container to keep them as fresh as possible until they’re all eaten!
I never cared for pecan pies when I was a kid. I found that most of them had fillings that were too sweet and too gooey, overwhelming both the nuts and the crust of the pie. Actually, I still find a lot of pecan pies to be this way, which is why I prefer to make my own. With a homemade pecan pie, I get a much better balance of the nuts and the rest of the filling, and I can use sweeteners that add flavor, such as honey and maple syrup, instead of just sweetness, like commonly used corn syrup does. Pecan pies encouraged me to branch out and use other types of nuts more often in pies and tarts, like these Walnut Maple Bars.
These bars are a bit of a takeoff on pecan pie. In fact, they would be a great stand in for pecan pie at a holiday party, pleasing pie lovers in the flavor department and bakers for their easy preparation! They have a shortbread cookie crust and a topping packed with walnuts and maple syrup. The topping is similar to that of a pecan pie, but with a fairly high nut to filling ratio that leaves every bar with a generous amount of nuts, a buttery crust and lot of flavor. Walnuts work very well in these bars because they have a buttery flavor to them that other nuts don’t have. They still offer a bit of a crunch, but they blend in with the rest of the topping very well. In fact, I’ll throw in that they’re high in fiber and Omega-3s just because that is the justification I used to go for seconds after I had my first piece!
I added a little bit of cinnamon to the shortbread crust to give it a little more character. I used Grade B maple syrup in these bars because it has a stronger flavor than Grade A, but any flavor of maple syrup will work well. The vanilla adds a nice highlight to the flavor and the small amount of butter in the filling ensures that it stays tender, in addition to bringing out that buttery note from the walnuts. I used untoasted nuts, but toasted would work equally well in this recipe, as would a blend of pecans and walnuts if you want to mix things up.