Thursday, July 1, 2010

Walnut ring cookies

I think that the flavors of baklava are forever embedded in me because I crave it so often. So this time instead of a cake, I wanted a cookie that was reminiscent of it.

Ma'mouls are a sort of Middle Eastern cookie that have a stuffing of either nuts or dates and they were my inspiration. I've never had ma'mouls but I will in 8 days when we go to Turkey.

As usual, this is a rather less-guilty kind of cookie, not too much butter, but enough to make you feel good during tea time or for fika. Walnuts have a lot of omega-3's, which is good for the skin, so I try to eat them often. The cookies are tender but firm and have interesting flavors. This recipe makes 8 cookies but you could just as well double the recipe.

Walnut Ring Cookies

1/2 cup flour
1/4 cup fine polenta or semolina
1/8 tsp baking powder
A pinch of salt
2 tbs sugar
2 tbs (25g) butter, melted
1/2 tbs canola oil
1 tbs milk
1 tbs water

1 1/2 tbs walnuts, finely chopped
A pinch of cinnamon
A tiny pinch of ground cloves (optional)
1/4 tsp rose water (optional)
1/2 tsp honey

Note: If you like don't like the crunchy texture of polenta, you can soak the polenta with the melted butter for an hour or so. It makes a big difference but isn't necessary.

Mix the flour, polenta, baking powder, salt, then add butter, oil, sugar, milk and water. Knead with your hands just until the dough is smooth.

Make the filling: Mix everything together to form a sticky mixture.

Preheat oven to 160C or 325F.

Divide dough into 8 balls. Roll each ball into a one-inch log, then create a trench in the middle for the filling. Add about 1/4tsp or 1/2 tsp filling evenly in the trench, and then pinch up the sides to seal. Then join it into a ring. (Alternately, you could impress your thumb into each ball and stuff the nut mixture and pinch up to seal.)

Bake on a parchment-lined cookie sheet until lightly golden on the bottom, about 13-18 minutes. Cool and store in an air-tight container.

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