Here is a walnut cookie recipe from my great-grandmother Victoria Lewinnek. It wasn’t until long after she passed away that it occurred to me to ask why my Jewish great-grandmother was making Christmas cookies at all — but regardless of what holiday it’s for, these cookies are yummy. They’re a tasty almond-oil-and-walnut-flavored variation on basic refrigerator-cookies.
3 sticks butter, at almost-room temperature
1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 pound of walnuts, chopped finely (I use the food processor to do this)
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp almond extract
3 cups flour (best to place this in a 4-cup measuring-cup, then add the baking soda & salt in the cup measurement, then stir it up thoroughly before adding those dry ingredients all together into the wet stuff)
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
Let the butter come to room temperature.
In a large mixing bowl, blend the butter and the sugars. Then beat in the eggs. Stir in everything else. This will make a very sticky dough that needs to be stored in the refrigerator overnight — or up to a week.
My grandmother placed it in old milk cartons with one side cut off. My mother placed it in wax paper. I didn’t have either this year, and I found that parchment paper worked fine. Whatever you use, shape the dough into two logs, wrapped up in something waxy. Place those logs in plastic bags in the refrigerator overnight. My mother found it necessary to hide these bags from my siblings, who were liable to eat up all the dough before it got cooked. My husband, fortunately, is scared of raw egg, so he doesn’t eat the dough.
When you’re ready to cook it, slice the dough into fairly-thin slices and place it on a cookie sheet. My grandmother brushed the tops with egg white and then dusted sugar on, along with more walnuts, but I think these taste better without that fussiness. I just bake at 350 for 12 minutes.
UPDATE: My mother has just told me that it was my OTHER great-grandmother, Marguerite Shtein Conway, who gave us this recipe. No wonder. I should have known that it would be the Christian great-grandmother who made the Christmas cookies, but sometimes it takes a blog to learn things.