These chocolate cookies are baked with a whole candied walnut right in the center. The cookie is chocolatey and chewy, but the walnut is sweet and crunchy. Paired together, they make these Candied Walnut Cookies something extraordinary – despite the fact that they look like stuffed mushrooms!
These cookies come together in steps, but trust me, when you pop one of these Candied Walnut Cookies into your mouth, you will know that each step was well worth it! I have my good friend, Lesli, to thank for the inspiration behind this cookie. Every Christmas she used to make a large batch of candied nuts and give them to her coworkers as a present. I think the bag she gave me was always bigger than the bag she gave others, because she knew how much I loved them!
The walnuts you see in the photographs are not prepared the way you would normally prepare candied nuts. Usually, candied nut are tossed in spices, egg whites, and even maple syrup, before being spread out on a baking sheet and roasted. There’s no need to roast these walnuts first. They will candy right in the cookie!
By the way, if you have any leftover walnuts and egg white mixture after you have prepared all of your cookies, you can make candied walnuts without the cookie base. As you can see in the photos, I did a few just to add to my cookie plate. Toss the walnuts into the egg white mixture and spread them out into a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake for 7 minutes at 350 degrees. Turn the walnuts over and bake for another 7 minutes. Remove from oven, allow to cool, and enjoy!
BASIC SUGAR COOKIE RECIPE
I have a basic sugar cookie recipe that I love to use over and over again. It never disappoints and is always perfect. It is so soft when baked. I love how it just melts in your mouth. And, it’s very adaptable in terms of flavour. I change out the extracts in it all the time.
For this particular recipe, I used vanilla extract. You can use other extracts, but just be careful to pair them well. For example, I would not pair a chocolate Candied Walnut Cookie with mint or lemon extract. You could use almond extract, but unless you are familiar with using extracts other than the common vanilla, you might be surprised to learn that almond extract tastes nothing like almonds! In fact, many people say that almond extract tastes like cherries. I tend to think that it has a sweet, syrupy taste too.
That’s the thing about a simple recipe like this. You can adapt it any way you want. Maybe you prefer a different type of nut. For this cookie, you could use cashews, almonds, macadamias, or pecans, etc. Since a walnut half is quite large, I only used the one. If you use something smaller, like macadamias, you might consider placing 3 or 4 of them onto the cookie.
INGREDIENTS NEEDED FOR CANDIED WALNUT COOKIES:
- Butter – Make sure your butter is at room temperature! To be perfectly honest, I have made these with both salted and unsalted butter and there’s no difference in taste or appearance once all is said and done. Use what you have on hand.
- Sugar – Sugar will caramelize when baked, which will help to brown cookies and cakes. In cookies, the sugar will help the dough to spread, and will create a crispness to the bottom of the cookie.
- Eggs – Whenever you set out to bake, make sure your eggs are at room temperature too – just like your butter!
- Vanilla Extract – Probably the most common extract and the most common flavouring used in cakes and cookies.
- Flour – No need for anything special. Just use regular all-purpose flour. I have not tried this recipe with any other type of flour.
- Walnuts – Walnuts have a mild, buttery flavour which is why they are perfect in cookies and cakes.
- Cocoa Powder – Cocoa powder is an unsweetened chocolate product which adds deep chocolate flavor to desserts and beverages. Use a good quality cocoa powder, not the kind we used to stir into milk as kids!
- Allspice – Contrary to what its name suggests, allspice isn’t a blend of other spices. Allspice comes from a dried brown berry from a tree. It is a warm-tasting spice and is very aromatic.
- Cinnamon – Cinnamon is a spice created from the inner bark of the Cinnamomum tree. The bark is dried until it curls into a roll known as a cinnamon stick. These are ground into powder. Commonly found in baked goods, cinnamon is an aromatic with a warming flavour.
- Nutmeg – Nutmeg is a seed that comes in whole or ground form. It is a key ingredient in many baked goods and is essential to anything eggnog related. I often use it in fall dishes, especially in mashed potatoes!
- Sanding Sugar – Coarse sugar, sometimes referred to as sanding sugar, is used sometimes for decorative purposes. It is sometimes called pearl sugar or coarse baking sugar.
MORE CHRISTMAS CONFECTIONS!
Maybe you don’t care much for cookies. Or, maybe you’re impatient and can’t wait to see what tomorrow’s recipe will be! If either one of those applies to you, I have a remedy. Last year, I published a series called Lord Byron’s 12 Biscotti of Christmas. The year before that, I published a series called Lord Byron’s 12 Bundt Cakes of Christmas. And, just a few days ago, I finished this year’s mini series call Lord Byron’s 12 Truffles of Christmas. You can click on the image below and see the entire series on one page! Don’t worry, you won’t lose this page. It will open up a new page so that you can easily get back to these cookies!
SANDING VS GRANULATED SUGAR
I use coarse sanding sugar quite often in my recipes, and I hope it hasn’t been too difficult for you to find. Sanding sugar is sometimes referred to as baking sugar, and there are some substitutes. You can use other sugars – which are basically the same, but named something differently – there’s pearl sugar and coarse sugar. You cannot, however, use granulated sugar. Let me explain why.
Whereas an individual granule of sanding sugar is large and hard, a single granule of granulated sugar is quite small. Sanding sugar will hold up to the heat in your oven without melting; granulated sugar will not. If you cannot find sanding sugar, then I’m afraid this recipe is not for you.
You can find sanding sugar online, but it’s expensive in comparison to what you can find at a baking supply store. I buy most of my sanding sugar at Bulk Barn. They have just about every colour you will need!
The first thing you should do it to toast your walnuts. How do you do that? It’s very simple! To be perfectly honest, this applies to any nuts or seeds, not just the nuts in this recipe. If you are not familiar with toasted nuts, then please try it just once. You will probably never revert to using nuts in your cooking or baking again without toasting them first!
I have tried using non-stick frying pans for toasting, but nothing works as well as a stainless steel pan. You could use a cast iron pan, but since they get very hot and retain heat so well, it’s easier to burn the nuts. See the frying pan in this picture? That’s the exact one that I use all the time. I’m not suggesting you run out and buy this same cookware set, but I want you to see the pan – remember, do not use non-stick if possible. You’ll get better results will plain stainless steel.
So, unlike most cooking where you’re required to preheat first, you don’t want to apply that same rule to toasting nuts. Add the nuts to a cold pan. Place the pan on the burner and turn the heat on – no higher than medium and probably even less if using a gas burner.
Keep the nuts moving about. I use a rubber spatula. Once you start to smell that warm and toasty aromatic smell, pay close attention. The nuts will take on a darker colour. Don’t let them get too dark. Once you’re satisfied, immediately remove them from the hot pan and transfer them to a dinner plate where they can be spread out to cool.
HOW TO MAKE CANDIED WALNUT COOKIES
I previously mentioned that there are a few steps to making these cookies. The first is to prepare the nuts. Once they are toasted and cooled, it’s time to get them into the candying mixture. Start by separating the yolks and egg whites into two separate bowls. Set the yolks aside. Add the allspice, cinnamon, and nutmeg to the egg whites and whisk to combine. Whisk until the egg whites are a little frothy. Add the cooled, toasted walnuts and stir to coat evenly. Set aside.
Next, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat and set aside. In a large mixing bowl, use a hand-held mixer to beat together the butter and sugar until well incorporated. Next, beat in the egg yolks and vanilla extract. Lastly, mix in the flour and cocoa powder. The mixture will be crumbly at first and might not look like a cookie dough, but keep beating on medium speed and a cookie dough will form. This is not an overly wet dough, so don’t be alarmed.
Portion the cookie dough into two teaspoons and roll into a ball. Keep the balls two inches apart. Place the ball onto the prepared baking sheet. Gently, but firmly, press one of the walnuts into the center of the cookie, flattening the cookie as you do so. Use a pastry brush to brush the excess egg white mixture over the top of the cookie. Sprinkle with a little sanding sugar. Bake for 12 minutes. Remove from oven and allow cookies to cool for 3-5 minutes before transferring them to a wire cooling rack to finish cooling.
MORE CHRISTMAS COOKIE RECIPES!
Did you know that I’ve been posting a 24 Cookies of Christmas series for a few years now? There are over 100 Christmas cookie recipes that you can find right here at Lord Byron’s Kitchen! To make it easier to find, I have created a page for each series. Just click on the image below and you’ll find the full series for that volume all one page!
STORING, PACKAGING, & FREEZING
When it comes to most cookies, they taste best at room temperature, but they don’t hold up well to being left out on your countertop for long periods of time. Cookies will stay fresh in a cookie jar or food-safe container with a lid for 3-5 days if left to sit on your kitchen countertop. You can store them in a food-safe container in your fridge. When you want one, two, or half a dozen, take them out of the container and place them in a single layer on a plate. Let them sit at room temperature for 5 minutes and they’re ready!
If you plan to freeze your Candied Walnut Cookies, you certainly can! Pile them into a clean, food-safe container. The container must be freezer friendly! You’ll want to ensure a very tight fitting lid too. I use these quite often when freezing baked goods. I like to place a sheet of plastic wrap over the top of the container before pushing the lid on. This helps to create a better seal. The goal is to keep all of that freshness locked in!
You can freeze these cookies for up to three months. If you plan to give previously frozen cookies as a gift, I would lay them out onto a wire cooling rack to thaw completely. If packaging, wait until the condensation has evaporated. Once thawed, pile into cellophane bags and tie with a ribbon, or stack in a cookie tin/box.
If I have not answered all of your questions in the text above, don’t hesitate to reach out to me! You can contact me by sending me a message in the comments section further down the page. I will try my best to answer as soon as possible! You might reach me even faster by following me on Facebook and sending me a private message. Scroll down to follow me and never miss another recipe!
Finally, as I stated previously, every day I will be posting a new recipe. If you miss one, don’t fret. You can find my entire collection of Christmas Recipes right here! There are over 100 Christmas recipes and counting. There’s something for everyone! Cheers!
Candied Walnut Cookies
For the Cookies:
- 1 cup salted butter, softened
- 2/3 cup sugar
- 2 large egg yolks
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
- 1/4 cup cocoa powder
- 1/2 cup sanding sugar
For the Candied Walnuts:
- 2 large egg whites
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon allspice
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
- 36 whole walnut halves, toasted
For the Candied Walnuts:
- Begin by separating the egg white from the yolks. Set the yolks aside for later. Add the egg whites to a bowl.
- Add the sugar, allspice, cinnamon, and nutmeg to the egg whites. Whisk until foamy and frothy.
- Stir in the cooled, toasted walnut halves and set aside.
For the Cookies:
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat and set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, use a hand-held mixer to beat together the butter and sugar until well incorporated.
- Next, beat in the egg yolks and vanilla extract.
- Lastly, mix in the flour and cocoa powder. The mixture will be crumbly at first and might not look like a cookie dough, but keep beating on medium speed and a cookie dough will form. This is not an overly wet dough, so don't be alarmed.
- Portion two teaspoons of the cookie dough and roll into a ball.
- Place the ball onto the prepared baking sheet, leaving two inches of space between each ball. Gently, but firmly, press one of the walnuts into the center of the cookie, flattening the cookie as you do so.
- Use a pastry brush to brush the excess egg white over the cookie. Top with a sprinkling of sanding sugar.
- Bake for 12 minutes. Remove from oven and allow cookies to cool for 3-5 minutes before transferring them to a wire cooling rack to finish cooling.