For the past two weeks, I’ve been on a holiday baking spree. In my attempt to a.) spread holiday cheer by sending baked goods to friends afar and b.) recipe test along the way, I’ve made so many batches of cookies and granola that the pantry is now very well stocked. I think I’ve given a new meaning to the term “cookie monster.” My amused boyfriend looked on while I baked, chuckling, “She’s an unstoppable machine! Look at her go!!!!” Yes, I was an unstoppable machine, a new kind of cookie monster.
Of the many cookies I made, my favourites were these walnut cookies. These cookies are warmly spiced with vanilla and cinnamon, and have a crumbly yet buttery texture similar to that of shortbread. They remind me of these Danish butter cookies that I ate as a child—you know, the ones that came out of a blue tin? Does anyone know what I’m talking about?
Go Nuts For Walnuts: Omega-3s And Other Nutritional Benefits
Something I frequently hear and see are people who avoid nuts because of their high calorie, high fat profile. As I mentioned on Instagram on Sunday, eating high fat foods like nuts and avocados isn’t unhealthy. In fact, avoiding these foods means you miss out on all the amazing nutritional benefits of these healthy fats and other vitamins and minerals. These foods don’t make you “fat”- bad eating habits and processed foods make you “fat” and lead you down a road of obesity, diabetes, and other chronic diseases. (Fat is in quotations because fat is often misinterpreted as the best measurement of health, but it actually isn’t. A number on the scale says nothing about your cardiovascular health. The word “fat” is also used pretty offensively in popular culture (to fat shame), and I want no part in that. I like to think in terms of overall health, not by the number on the scale! This, however, is for another post another time.)
The walnut, for one, is an incredible powerhouse of a nut. Walnuts contain the highest level of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), more commonly known as omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids are extremely beneficial for cardiovascular health, and in 2009, a study conducted found that those who consumed walnuts saw a drop in overall cholesterol. These omega-3s also make walnuts an excellent source of nourishment for the brain, as they help enhance and support cognitive function. According to a recent study conducted by Tufts University, walnuts have an anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant effect on the brain, which expresses itself in improved brain signaling and brain cell growth. Walnuts have also been shown to slow the progression of Alzheimer. The best part: if you look at a cracked walnut closely, you’ll see its uncanny resemblance to the human brain! As if we needed any more convincing, right?
These cookies aren’t overly spiced, but you can use less cinnamon and even skip it altogether if you’re not a fan of the spice. I made them gluten-free with combination of walnut flour and brown rice flour, but feel free to sub all purpose flour for brown rice flour if you want. The walnuts, however, are key to the recipe- so I highly encourage you to keep them in there! I did try making these with coconut oil, but the result was a bit of a mess, and probably requires a revisit for further testing.
I love having one of these cookies with a cup of coffee, or dipped in a glass of almond milk. They’re very easy to make, and the second to best part about the entire cookie making process (the best being the eating part) is the sweet smell of vanilla and cinnamon that fills your home.
Gluten-free Vanilla + Cinnamon Walnut Cookies
Yields 18 cookies.
- 1 1/2 cups brown rice flour
- 1 cup ground walnuts/walnut flour
- To make walnut flour, simply grind 1 – 1 1/2 cups of walnuts in a food processor. Pulse a few times, scraping down the sides to make sure you’re not turning it into nut butter.
- 3/4 cup Earth Balance butter, room temperature
- 1/4 cup + 3 tablespoons coconut sugar
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
- Using an electric mixer, beat the coconut sugar and butter together in a bowl until fluffy. Add the vanilla extract.
- Add the walnuts, cinnamon, brown rice flour, and sea salt. Continue to mix until all the ingredients are incorporated.
- Cover a flat surface with saran wrap, and gather the dough in your hands. Using the wrap, gather the dough and roll it out into the shape of a log. If you are unsure how to do this, this is a pretty good tutorial from The Pioneer Woman.
- Refrigerate the dough, and allow it to chill until firm. I chilled my dough overnight, but I’m sure a couple hours in the fridge will do the trick.
- Once the dough is ready to bake, preheat the oven to 160ºC/325ºF. Line a baking tray with parchment paper.
- Unwrap the cookie dough from the cling wrap, and slice up the log.
- Place the cookies on the baking tray and bake for 25 minutes. They should be golden brown and a little darker (although not burnt!) at the edges.
- Allow the cookies to cool.
Enjoy : )
I’d love to know: what’s your favourite holiday cookie? What have you been baking in your kitchen?
Wishing you much love and happy kitchen adventures,