These Walnut Shortbread Cookies are tender, with a crumbly melt-in-your-mouth texture. The dough is dipped in egg white, rolled in walnuts, and then baked to perfection. These cookies keep a long time, making them perfect for holidays, but who am I to judge if you want to make them for an afternoon tea, a picnic, or a nice event?
What are these Walnut Shortbread Cookies
I discovered this recipe in an old Romanian cookbook from the 1950s. I was intrigued by its simplicity and that it did not require any special ingredients.
The cookie is basically made from a shortbread dough, dipped in egg white, and rolled in coarsely chopped walnuts. They look like little spiked balls covered in roasted walnuts.
As walnuts are very popular in Eastern Europe, they are used in many recipes, like this one.
These cookies are very rustic. There is no right or wrong way to make them. The idea is to keep them more or less on the same size, so they bake evenly.
Crumbly but soft, kind of like a shortbread, but more tender, these cookies are a little gem. The technique for these cookies might remind you of the thumbprint cookies, but they are slightly different, as we do not fill them with jam.
There is something fascinating about the recipes that are 50-80 years old. Everything ingredient was used entirely, and nothing got wasted.
For example, in this recipe, the egg yolks are used in the cookie dough, while the egg whites are used as glue for the cookies, so the walnuts stick to them.
What goes into these Walnut Shortbread Cookies
Ingredients for the cookie dough
- Unsalted butter– the butter needs to be cold. The coldest, the better.
- All-purpose flour– Keep it simple. We do not need rising flour, bread flour, or any type of flour.
- Egg yolks– remember what I was telling you? Egg yolks go into the cookie dough, while the egg whites are used as glue for making the walnuts stick to the dough.
- Powdered sugar – I like using powder sugar in some dessert recipes, like in this one, when mixing the sugar with flour creates a smooth dough that is easy to work with.
- Vanilla extract
- Zest from a lemon
Ingredients for decorating the cookies
- Egg whites– I hope you did not throw them away.
- Chopped walnuts– As I told you before, walnuts are the popular choice for these cookies, but feel free to choose pecans instead.
How to make these walnut shortbread cookies:
Before you start working on the recipe, do the following:
Separate the eggs and set aside the egg whites. We will use them for decorating the cookies.
Chop the walnuts.
Cube the butter.
Step 1. In a large bowl, place flour, powdered sugar, butter, and lemon zest.
Work the butter into the flour and sugar until you obtain a sandy mixture.
Step 2. Add the egg yolk and vanilla, and mix until you obtain a smooth, nonsticky dough.
Step 3. Shape the dough into a log or a ball, wrap it in foil and place it in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes to an hour. Remove the dough from the fridge and put it on a clean surface.
Preheat the oven to 350F. Line a cookie dough with parchment paper and set it aside.
Beat the egg whites with a fork. In a different bowl, place the coarsely chopped walnuts.
Step 4. Take small pieces of dough and shape them into 1 inch balls.
Step 5. Dip them into the egg whites, then roll them on the chopped walnuts, pressing gently to help the walnuts stick to the cookie.
Place the cookies 1 inch apart on the cookie tray.
Bake until edges are lightly browned and cookies are set for about 25 minutes.
Step 6. Remove the baking tray from the oven and dust the cookies with powdered sugar. Place the cookies on a metal rack to cool.
Tips for making these Walnut Shortbread Cookies
Yes, you can freeze the dough for later use. Also, you can freeze the already baked cookies, which is an excellent opportunity to make these cookies in advance for the holidays. Here is how:
Freezing the dough:
Wrap the dough in foil, put it in a freezer bag, then freeze it for up to three months.
When ready to bake the cookies, bring the dough to room temperature and continue with the recipe.
Freezing the already baked cookies:
If you end up with too many cookies, freeze them. Place the cookies in a plastic container or Ziploc bags and freeze them for up to 30 days. Thaw them until they reach room temperature, or place them in a 350F warm oven for 3-4 minutes to bring them back to life.
No, you can use pecans, chopped almonds, pistachios, or any nuts you like. I like these cookies with walnuts, and this is how the original recipe is made, but you go ahead and make these cookies yours.
No, you don’t need to. The danger of roasting the nuts before baking the cookies is that the walnuts will burn if they are baked twice. Please follow the recipe, and your cookies will be delicious.
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Check out our web story for this recipe: How to make Walnut Shortbread Cookies.
Walnut Shortbread Cookies
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- ¾ cup powdered sugar
- Zest from 1 lemon
- ¾ cups +2 Tablespoons unsalted butter very cold cubed small, or 14 tablespoons
- 2 large egg yolks
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 large egg whites
- 7 ounces chopped walnuts
- 2-3 tablespoons powdered sugar for dusting the cookies
- Separate the eggs. Place the egg whites in a small bowl. Set aside. Chop the walnuts. Cut the butter into small cubes.
- Note: We will use the egg yolks for the dough and the egg whites to decorate the cookie.
- In a large bowl, place flour, powdered sugar, butter, and lemon zest. Work the butter into the flour and sugar until you obtain a sandy mixture.
- Add the egg yolk and vanilla, and mix until you obtain a smooth, nonsticky dough.
- Shape the dough into a ball, wrap it in foil and place it in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes to an hour.
- Remove the dough from the refrigerator and place it on a clean surface.
- Preheat oven to 350F. Line a cookie dough with parchment paper and set it aside.
- Beat the egg whites with a fork. In a different bowl, place the coarsely chopped walnuts.
- Take small pieces of dough and shape them into 1 inch balls. Dip them into the egg whites, then roll them on the chopped walnuts, pressing gently to help the walnuts stick to the cookie.
- Place the cookies 1 inch apart on the cookie tray. Bake until edges are lightly browned, and cookies are set for about 25 minutes.
- Remove the baking tray from the oven and dust cookies with powdered sugar.
- Place the cookies on a metal rack to cool.