For this cookie, I’ve taken a shortbread recipe, stuffed it with chopped walnuts, baked them into balls, and dipped them in melted chocolate. Walnut Shortbread Balls are a new take on a Christmas classic!
Every Christmas cookie tin needs to have at least one cookie that’s dipped in chocolate. Am I right? For me, that cookie is Walnut Shortbread Balls . Everyone loves shortbread, anyway. But, if you dip it in chocolate, it becomes even better!
Should you be new here, let me tell you a bit about how this works. This is my third annual Christmas cookie extravaganza. Like the previous two years, I will post a brand new Christmas cookie recipe for 24 consecutive days. Yes, that means Saturdays and Sundays too! For your reference, you can find links to the first two years further down the page.
Fresh off of my 12 Biscotti of Christmas series, I’m excited about this new series. Last year, I also did 12 Bundt Cakes of Christmas. Now, who’s ready to get started on today’s cookie with me? Let me ask you again today. Do you have your flour and sugar ready? Are your walnuts chopped? Is your apron on and your oven preheated? Good! Let’s get to it!
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 walnuts for 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. See the frying pan in this picture? That’s the exact one that I use all the time. I’m not suggesting you buy the same cookware set, but I wanted 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 walnuts 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 slightly golden 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.
ROLLING THIS COOKIE DOUGH INTO BALLS CAN BE TRICKY!
Okay, full disclosure here. The dough for Walnut Shortbread Balls is not fun to work with. The trade off? Really great tasting cookies! You just need to practice a little bit of patience. I would not recommend making these cookies if you are already stressed!
If you have ever worked with shortbread dough before, you will know that in 99% of the case, the dough is rolled flat and cut into shapes. In this case, the dough is rolled into balls. That in itself wouldn’t be such a big deal, but when you add chopped walnuts to the mix, it becomes a little challenging.
Don’t fret! It’s totally possible to get perfect little balls without losing your religion. Here’s how I did it. Scoop up about a tablespoon of the cookie dough. It’s a crumbly dough, but it will stick to itself. Massage the dough in your hand by squeezing it gently until it is kneaded together. Gently roll into a ball and place on the baking sheet.
STORING, PACKAGING, AND FREEZING
If you plan to freeze these Walnut Shortbread Balls, you certainly can! Once they are completely cooled, 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 cookie freshness locked in!
You can freeze these cookies for up to three months. If you plan to give the frozen cookies as a gift, I would lay them out onto a wire cooling rack to thaw. Once thawed, dust liberally again with the confectioner’s sugar. Pile into cellophane bags and tie with a ribbon, or stack in a cookie tin/box.
As I said, 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!
Walnut Shortbread Balls
- 1/2 cup butter, softened
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- 1 1/4 cups chopped and toasted walnuts
- 1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
- 1/4-1/2 teaspoon coconut oil, optional
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Set aside.
- In a mixing bowl, beat together the butter, sugar, and flour until combined.
- Add in 1 cup of the walnuts and gently beat into the cookie dough.
- Scoop up about a tablespoon of the cookie dough. It's a crumbly dough, but it will stick to itself. Massage the dough in your hand by squeezing it gently until it is kneaded together. Gently roll into a ball and place on the baking sheet.
- Bake for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and allow balls to cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes.
- Gently transfer the cookies to a wire cooling rack to finish cooling.
- At this point, you can enjoy the cookies as they are. Or, you can dip them in melted chocolate.
- Place the chocolate into a microwave-safe bowl. (If you want a thick chocolate coating, skip the addition of the coconut oil. If you want a thinner chocolate, add the coconut oil now.) On medium power, microwave the chocolate for 30 seconds. Remove and stir until smooth. You may need to microwave for another 5-10 seconds, depending on your microwave.
- Carefully drop one ball at a time into the chocolate. Use a fork to move the ball around until it is fully covered. Lift the ball out by sliding the fork under it. Gently tap the fork on the end of the bowl to get the excess chocolate off. Place on a parchment-lined plate. Sprinkle over a little bit of the remaining walnuts. Continue until all balls are dipped in chocolate.
- Allow the chocolate to fully set and harden before storing. You can speed this up by placing them in the fridge for an hour or so.