You might ask where does Marcellina in Cucina find a Norwegian recipe?
Certainly it is not my culture or heritage but instead this recipe is taken from one of my favourite cookbooks by Greg Patent "A Baker's Odyssey". I am planning to cook my way through this book which is a treasure trove of traditional recipes from around the world brought to America by immigrants. Greg gives a background to every recipe which paints a picture and sets the scene. I read this book over and over for a long time before I starting baking from it. It is that type of book that you just want to read and absorb. Though not all recipe are pictured, the book comes with a DVD of some of the more complicated recipes and the recipe themselves are very detailed so this makes up for the lack of photos. This is my third post from this cookbook, the previous being Lebanese Pita and Granny's Kahk. Both fabulously successful!
For this recipe Greg recommends the use of a manual nut grinder or a hand-held mouli grater to grind or shred the nuts. I didn't have either but really wanted to try the recipe so I carefully whizzed the walnuts in my food processor paying attention to not turn the nuts pasty. I'm sure a nut grinder does a better job but I was quite pleased with the result.
Norwegian Walnut Butter Balls
recipe source: Baker's Odyssey by Greg Patent
3 ozs walnuts
8 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 stick), at room temperature
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup all purpose flour
about 2 cup confectioner's sugar
Grind the nuts in a manual nut grinder, if you have one or carefully in the food processor.
Beat the butter with an electric mixer until smooth and creamy. Add sugar, salt and vanilla and beat for 1 or 2 minutes until smooth and fluffy. With a wooden spoon stir in the nuts, then stir in the flour until the dough gather into a mass. Knead the dough briefly in the bowl until it comes together.
Prepare the baking sheet by lining with non-stick baking paper and preheat the oven to 350F/180C.
Divide the dough into 36 equal parts. Roll each into a ball and place 1 to 2 inches apart on the prepared sheet.
Bake until the cookies are a very pale golden brown all over 20-25 minutes. This was way too long for my oven and I removed them from the oven before 15 minutes was up. Next time I think I would lower the temperature to allow them to bake for the entire allocated time.
Sift the confectioners' sugar into a large plastic bag and add half the hot cookies. Twist the top of the bag and gently manipulate the bag to coast the hot cookies with a generous layer of sugar. Remove the cookies from the bag with a slotted spoon and set on wire racks to cool. Repeat with the remaining cookies while they are hot.
I found the cookies were a bit soft to use the plastic bag method so a transferred the confectioners' sugar to a bowl and coated the cookies in the bowl. I have to say I always have trouble when I coat hot cookies because the sugar seems to absorb a lot of moisture and become sticky so I then sprinkle a little bit more on top as they cool. I think the humidity in our area doesn't help.
Well, the verdict?
A delicious little cookie with a great walnut flavour. Simple and doesn't take long. As Greg says in introducing these cookies "Cookies similar to this are found in many cultures" so you may know them by another name with perhaps different nuts.
Try these, you like them!