It’s Christmas cookie exchange season, and with two coming up (plus a bake sale!) this week, I’m trying to come up with cookies that are delicious and fancy-ish, yet simple to make in large quantities. These mildly spiced maple walnut spiral cookies fit the bill: although they look more involved, the dough is easy to roll out, sprinkle with maple syrup, brown sugar, toasted walnuts and cinnamon, then roll up and chill to slice and bake whenever you feel the urge. To streamline things, hand out logs of dough at a cookie exchange – packaged in a paper towel tube – with baking instructions.
Maple Walnut Crunch Icebox Cookies
1/4 cup butter, softened
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1 large egg
2 tsp. vanilla
1 1/4 cups flour
1 cup California walnut halves, toasted (divided)
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. pure maple syrup
2 Tbsp. packed brown sugar
a shake of cinnamon
In a medium bowl, beat butter, sugar and brown sugar with an electric mixer for 1 minute, until well combined. Beat in egg and vanilla until smooth. In a small bowl, combine flour, baking soda and salt. Put half the walnuts into the bowl of a food processor and pulse until finely ground. Add to the sugar mixture along with the flour mixture and stir by hand just until you have a soft dough. Put the remaining walnuts into the food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped; set aside.
Roll the dough between two sheets of waxed paper into a 12-inch square. Place on a cookie sheet in the fridge for about 30 minutes or in the freezer for about 15 minutes.
Remove dough from the fridge and peel off the top layer of waxed paper.
Drizzle the maple syrup evenly over the dough, then sprinkle with brown sugar, cinnamon and remaining walnuts, going almost to the edges. Gently roll into a log, peeling back the bottom paper as you go. Wrap in waxed paper or plastic wrap and freeze for 3 hours, or up to 3 months.
When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350F. Slice the log into 1/4-inch slices and place on a cookie sheet that has been lined with parchment or sprayed with non-tick spray.
Bake for 12-15 minutes, until pale golden. Let cool on the sheet for a few minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool.