Published: 5-12-2010, 06:38

Maple Walnut Cookies


1 cup walnuts
1¾ cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons (I stick) unsalted butter, softened
¾ cup packed light brown sugar
1 large egg
3 tablespoons pure maple syrup
¼ cup pure maple syrup
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1¼ to 1½ cups confectioners’ sugar

Years ago—it was 1973, to be exact—my mother clipped cookbook author Jean Hewitt’s recipe for Black Walnut Cakes from the New York Times Magazine. The cookies, which were frosted with maple icing, quickly became one of our winter favorites. I’ve made a few changes since then, including adding a little maple syrup to the dough, substituting butter for shortening, and toasting the walnuts to accentuate their flavor (any kind of walnuts will do). They’re still a seasonal treat, perfect with a mug of hot chocolate.

PREHEAT the oven to 350°F. Line 1 or 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper.
SPREAD the walnuts in a single layer on a small baking sheet. Toast in the oven for 6 to 8 minutes or just until you start to smell them. Transfer the nuts to a cutting board, and when cool enough to handle, chop coarse.
WHISK together the flour, baking soda, and salt in a small bowl.
USING an electric mixer, beat the butter in a large bowl until creamy. Add the brown sugar and beat until fully combined. Beat in the egg, then the maple syrup. With the beaters on low speed, mix in the flour mixture just until incorporated. Mix in the walnuts.
DROP the dough by slightly rounded tablespoonfuls onto the prepared sheet(s), arranging about 2 inches apart. Flatten the mounds with your fingers to about a ½-inch thickness. Bake for 13 to 15 minutes or until the cookies are golden and mostly firm to the touch. (If us¬ing 2 cookie sheets, rotate them from top to bottom and front to back about halfway through baking.) Transfer the cookies to a rack to cool completely.
FOR THE ICING: Place the maple syrup and butter in a small saucepan and heat, stirring, over low heat just until the butter melts. Remove from the heat and whisk in 1¼ cups of the confectioners’ sugar, adding more as necessary to make a thick but spreadable icing. Using a frosting spreader or a table knife, glaze the tops of the cookies. Reheat the icing for a few seconds if it becomes too thick to spread. Let the cookies stand on a rack until the icing sets.
STORE, layered between sheets of wax paper, in an airtight container for up to 5 days.