We are introduced, at an early age, to the sweet wondernous of a cookie. From teething cookies to soothe the swollen aching gums of incoming incisors, onto animal crackers purchased in rectangular-shaped boxes bearing a string handle for easy toting by little fingers. Deciding which part of the animal should be eaten first-the trunk of the elephant or the tail of a lion-depended on how hungry one was. Savor each and every one or simply gobble them down as fast as possible.

My next cookie memory would be the ever famous, possibly all-time favorite, the chocolate chip cookie. There is nothing better than to bite into a round circle of baked dough sprinkled with gooey melt-in-your-mouth chocolate. A chocolate chip cookie can dry tears, heal broken hearts, mend scraped knees and elbows and solve sibling arguments. Most of the problems in the world could likely be solved by a properly baked, right out of the oven, chocolate chip cookie. The power of a cookie is underestimated.

I will attempt in the next 365 days to prepare and comment on a year’s worth of different cookies-one for each day. My goal is to share with others my extreme love of cookies-baking them and especially eating them! Feel free to send me your favorite recipe, your earliest cookie memories, or how cookies may have influenced your life. Cookies Rule!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Cookie Recipe #139 - Cream Cheese-Walnut Cookies

This crispy, nutty cookie can be made into logs and frozen for up to 2 weeks-just slice, bake and serve for drop-in visitors (or a midnight kitchen raid!). For those of you liked the Pecan Shortbread Melts, these are similar in their texture and taste.

Ingredients: 4 cups all-purpose flour, 1 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt, 2 cups (4 sticks) unsalted butter, softened, 6 ounces cream cheese, softened, 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar, 2 tablespoons vanilla extract, 2 1/2 cups walnut halves: 1 1/2 cups toasted (see *note), and coarsely chopped; 1 cup finely chopped.

Instructions: *Note: To toast walnuts, spread the 1 1/2 cups evenly on baking sheet and toast in a preheated 425 degree oven for about 5-10 minutes or until lightly browned (be careful not to burn); allow to cool before using.

In large mixing bowl, beat butter and cream cheese until pale and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Mix in sugar and vanilla. Gradually add flour and salt and mix just until combined (do not overmix). By hand, stir in toasted walnuts until thoroughly combined.

Transfer dough to a work surface. Divide dough in half; shape each half into an 8 1/2-inch log about 2 inches in diameter. Wrap each log in parchment paper and freeze until firm, about 30 minutes or up to 2 weeks.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Unwrap one log and roll in 1/2 cup chopped walnuts (untoasted), coating completely. Cut into 1/4-inch-thick rounds. Space 1 inch apart on baking sheets lined with parchment paper.

Bake cookies until golden around edges, 15-17 minutes. Let cool on sheets on wire racks. Repeat with remaining log and remaining 1/2 cup walnuts.

Cookies can be stored in airtight container at room temperature up to 3 days.
Makes about 4 dozen.

"Martha Stewart's Cookies", Clarkson Potter/Publishers, New York, 2008.

Cookies Rule!!!

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