Walnut Shortbread Cookies with Strawberries

Walnut Shortbread

In my former life as a corporate chef, we made all sorts of cookies, probably by the thousands! These cookies have long been a favourite! So nice and delicate. I especially like to serve them with fresh fruit during the summer when there are lots of berries, peaches, nectarines (tossed with a bit of sugar and rum) and plums about.  If I can find them, I’ll buy the walnuts at our farmer’s market in the fall.

Makes Approximately 3 ½ Dozen Cookies

1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
½ cup granulated sugar
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
2 cups unbleached flour
1 ½ cups finely chopped walnuts (a food processor works very well for this)

Garnish: Icing sugar

Preheat the oven to 325 F.

Adjust the oven racks so one is on the bottom third and one is in the halfway position. Line 3 rimmed baking sheets with baking parchment.

Using a stand mixer or a hand-held electric mixer, beat the butter until very light. Gradually add the sugar and blend well. Add the vanilla and blend into the butter flour mixture. Combine the flour and the nuts; and mix until well combined. Remove from the mixer bowl and form into 2 balls. You can make the dough the day before, just wrap in plastic wrap and chill. Remove from the fridge a couple of hours before you wish to roll out the dough.

Using a rolling pin, roll out the dough to between ¼ & 1/3” on a lightly floured work surface. Using a cookie cutter of your choice, cut out the cookies and place on the prepared baking sheets; depending on the size of your cookies, you should be able to get 12 to 15 cookies on each baking sheet. Place 1 of the baking sheets in the lower third oven and the other one on the shelf above it. Time the cookies for approximately 12 to 15 minutes, depending on your baking sheets (mine are insulated, so take longer). You are looking for the cookies to be lightly golden brown around the edges, switching baking sheets halfway through the baking process. The cookies could take longer than 15 minutes, don’t worry, just keep setting the timer for 2 or 3 minutes until the cookies are done. Remove from the oven to cooling racks and cool for 10 minutes. Remove the cookies to another cooling rack and lightly sift icing sugar over them. I sometimes do some with icing sugar and some without.

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