Archive for: walnuts
My pantry is always stocked with dried fruits and nuts, and while I often reach for fresh fruits during the spring and summer, those dried fruits are a great standby so that I always have something on hand to bake with. These Cranberry and Walnut Scones are the result of a little pantry-raiding on my part, since I had a few bags and wanted to use them up. The scones are studded both with sweet-tart dried cranberries and buttery walnuts, which are a nice combination and one that I don’t see often enough.
I usually make my scones with buttermilk because I like the tangy, buttery flavor that it gives to them, but I made these scones using heavy cream. Heavy cream is higher in fat so it makes for a scone that is very tender, with an almost melt-in-your-mouth quality to the interior. The scones are also not too sweet, which not only allows the dried cranberries and nuts to pop out, but also allows you to taste the rich cream in every bite you take.
I cut my scones out with a round biscuit cutter that was about 4-inches in diameter. When you use a cutter, as opposed to making “drop” scones, your scones will tend to rise up straighter and more dramatically than if you simply dropped large balls of dough onto the baking sheet like cookie dough (although they will still be tasty with that shortcut). If you don’t have a round cutter, you can use a different shape, or simply cut the dough into triangles using a sharp knife once you’ve rolled it out. The scones should be a light golden brown when they are done, but the baking time may vary slightly depending on the size of each of your scones.
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).
Mint and chocolate is a winning combination, but mint can be a tricky ingredient to work with. This is because it has such a strong flavor that it can easily overwhelm the other elements in a recipe. One solution is to cut back slightly on the mint and to pair it with other strong flavors – like dark chocolate or cocoa – so that you get a balanced result where you can taste both the mint and the other elements of your recipe. These Mint Chocolate Brownie Cookies with Walnuts are just the thing if you want a hint of mint in with your chocolate.
The way I get that hint-of-mint flavor into these cookies is that I add chopped up mint chocolate, meaning chocolate bars that are flavored with mint. Good examples of this are Andes Mints (which are also sold as baking chips), the Lindt Excellence Intense Mint Bar (yum!), and Ghirardelli MMint Bliss, as well as other chocolates that are flavored with mint. Using these chocolate bars ensures that I get even more chocolate flavor into the cookies and just the right amount of mint, without overwhelming the rest of a recipe. It’s easy to go overboard with peppermint extracts can do if you’re not careful, but using just a 1/4 teaspoon and dark chocolate chips will make a good substitute if you can’t find a mint chocolate bar to chip up and add to your cookies.
The cookies are fudgy and brownie-like (and can be even more brownie-like if you underbake them by a minute), with a tender center and a slight chew to them. They get most of their richness from unsweetened cocoa powder, which gives them an intense, dark chocolate flavor that makes them feel very indulgent. The hint of mint in the cookies lightens up that chocolate taste a little bit, and the additions of walnuts add just enough texture and crunch. These cookies have been a hit every time I’ve served them: just a bit different from your usual chocolate cookie but with a satisfying chocolate punch.
Honey is a sweetener that isn’t used all that much in cookie recipes. You can’t really cream it with butter to create a fluffy base for cookie dough (although honey whipped with butter makes an amazing spread for biscuits), so you can’t simply substitute it for sugar and expect to get the same results. Used properly, honey can be a great sweetener in cookies – and other baked goods – because it lends a rich and complex flavor to the finished product, helps with browning and also keeps baked goods moist so that they stay fresher longer.
These Honey Walnut Cookies are a very simple recipe that is a twist on an eggless chocolate chip cookie recipe that I’ve made many times. They use honey as a sweetener and vegetable oil where regular cookies usually call for butter, and like the recipe that inspired them, they are egg free. The dough can be mixed up in just one bowl and doesn’t require anything more than a spoon to bring it together. The recipe makes a small batch, but can be doubled if you want more than a dozen.
Because the honey adds so much moisture to the cookies, they don’t get crisp around the edges after baking. Instead, the cookies have a beautiful golden color and a slightly soft, chewy texture when they come out of the oven. The honey is very fragrant and gives the cookies wonderful flavor that reminds me both of nougat and baklava. The walnuts add some much needed crunchiness and their buttery flavor brings out the richness of the honey even more. Don’t overbake these, or they’ll dry out a little.
Pears are a great to bake with when they come into season because they have a wonderful flavor, work well with all kinds of fall spices and add a ton of moisture to baked goods. In this Nutmeg-Spiced Pear and Walnut Cake, I added a lot of fresh pear into a nutmeg-laced buttermilk cake, along with some walnuts for texture. The cake is sweetened with sugar and a hint of maple syrup, and the combination of the pears, the nutmeg and the maple makes this a delicious and memorable fall treat that can be served for brunch or paired with ice cream for a dessert.
The cake is easy to make and comes together very quickly. Diced pears and walnuts are folded in just before the batter is poured into the pan to bake. I will use fresh pears that have been peeled when I have them available, but canned or jarred pears (packed in juice or water, but not syrup) will work just as well if you drain them well before using them. Canned pears will be a little more tender than fresh pears and you will have to fold them into the cake batter carefully to avoid smushing any small pieces. The cake is not too sweet, so the delicate pear flavor comes through beautifully in every bite. I think that buttery walnuts work well here, though pecans make a great addition, too.
Because this cake is very moist, I think it comes out best when baked in a tube pan with a removable bottom, although I have it pictured here in a bundt pan. With the tube pan, you don’t need to worry about the tender cake or fruit sticking to the sides of the pan. If you’re using a bundt pan, be sure to grease and flour it even if you are using a nonstick pan to ensure that you get a clean release. If some of the pieces of pear still stick to the pan, simply pop them back into place on the unmolded cake and dust with confectioners sugar and no one will know the difference.