Recipe courtesy of David Crofton and Dawn Casale

Cream Cheese Shortbread with Toasted Walnuts

Jane it is, plain it's not. Well, plainly delicious, yes, definitely. The crumb of this cookie is so fine and light that it literally melts in your mouth. For this reason, I have the ability to eat many of them. The other reason I am a big fan of Janes is that I'm a sucker for a flavorful but very simple cookie. It's undoubtedly something I get from my mom, who prefers sweets that are sans chocolate, buttercream, or any of the other things that attract many other people to a dessert. This cookie would be the one she would pick off of a gigantic platter of holiday treats. I probably would too.
  • Yield: Makes about 36 cookies
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Ingredients

1 cup walnuts

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon table salt

12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature

4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature

3/4 cup sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. 
  2. Place the walnuts on a baking sheet and toast them in the oven for about 10 minutes. Let the nuts cool (leave the oven on). When the walnuts are cool enough to handle, put them in a food processor and pulse 2 or 3 times, until all of the large pieces have been chopped. 
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour and salt. Add the chopped walnuts, and stir to combine. 
  4. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the butter, cream cheese, and sugar on medium speed until the mixture is light yellow and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Add the vanilla and mix on medium speed for 1 minute. Reduce the mixer speed to low, add the flour mixture, and mix for 20 seconds. Take the mixing bowl off the mixer and finish mixing the dough with a rubber spatula. 
  5. Scoop out a small round of dough, about 1 1/2 tablespoons in size. Roll the scoop into a ball, place it on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet, and gently press the ball. Repeat, leaving 1 inch between cookies. 
  6. Bake the cookies for 14 to 16 minutes, until they are light brown around the edges. Transfer the cookies to a wire rack and let them cool.

Cook’s Note

If you can find dulce de leche at your market and you're in a sassy mood, go ahead and sandwich two of these cookies together with some of the caramel spread.