Nutty season

I was lucky enough to receive a couple of crates of local walnuts from a friend, half of which have already travelled over the channel to be shared amongst relatives back in the UK. Every time I walk past my share I get another idea of what to do with them – such a versatile local delicacy.

A few years ago, I would drive super early to pick up my girls from school, as down the road, up a side street (the street you park in when you arrive late), was a jumbo walnut tree. To my astonishment there were literally tons of walnuts just rolling down the road in the gutter going to waste! So I would do my bit for the neighbourhood and clear up the street.

I did get some funny looks, similar to the ones I got in Belair when I went blackberry picking with a friend and a posse of little kids armed with plastic bowls. Unfortunately, the brambles have now given way to building sites.

But back to walnuts; the English walnut originated in Persia and features heavily in their cuisine, but they are easily used in many other types of cuisine. My favourites are walnut pesto, or ricotta and walnut filled ravioli with a sage and butter sauce, and walnut, orange and chicory salad. But as the time of giving is fast upon us, here is a recipe for simply scrumptious walnut and chocolate biscuits. Ideal as a Christmas gift or to the hosts of the Christmas party, that is if you manage not to eat them all beforehand!

Walnut and chocolate biscuits

Ingredients (makes approx. 24)

  • 125g unsalted butter
  • 100g soft light brown sugar
  • 75g caster sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4tsp salt
  • 1 ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • 250g plain flour
  • 1/2tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 150g chopped plain chocolate
  • 75g chopped walnut

Walnut cookies

  1. Melt the butter (either in a microwave or in a pan on the hob), tip into a large bowl and leave to cool for 5 minutes.
  2. Using a wooden spoon or spatula beat in the two sugars, then the egg, salt and vanilla extract until smooth.
  3. Then mix in the flour and bicarb until the mixture just forms a dough, then mix in the chocolate and nuts until evenly distributed.
  4. Line two baking trays with parchment paper and use a dessert spoon to make 24 rough mounds of dough, flatten slightly. Make sure to leave space between the biscuits, as they will spread during cooking.
  5. Bake at 180° (160°fan) for about 10-12 mins or until the edges are just golden but the middle soft.
  6. Leave to cool on the baking tray for 10 mins, then serve warm or transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

You can freeze these ahead by simply freezing a spoonful of the dough on a baking tray until solid, then transfer to a sealable bag or container and freeze for up to two months. Take them out when you fancy a treat, arrange the frozen dough blobs on parchment lined trays (spacing them apart) and bake at 180° (160°fan) for 13-15 minutes.

To store: Once cooled they keep up to 5 days in and airtight container at room temperature (they will soften slightly over time). But they don’t last that long in our house, so I bake half and freeze half. If you are using the oven anyway you can always pop in a couple from the freezer as a treat.

Walnut cookies

Per biscuit: 138 calories, 2g protein, 7g fat (4g saturates), 19g carbs (11g sugars), 0,4g fibre.

Text and photos by Alison Korter-Lacki, December 2013

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