Saturday, December 5, 2009

Brown Sugar Walnut Ice Box Cookies

When I was a kid I went crazy for these cookies my Gram baked around Christmas. I knew them simply as "Ice Box Cookies" which are actually a type of cookie, meaning, the dough is stored in the freezer. Ice box cookies are absolutely ideal for the holidays as the dough can be prepared and frozen well ahead and then simply sliced and baked when convenient.

This might be the most well-loved recipe in my Gram's repertoire and she was the only one who ever made them as far as I know. She wrote down the recipe for me years ago but this is the first time I've made them and I can't tell you how many memories they brought back when I could smell them baking. They are just as I remember - humble in appearance, but perfectly delicious in flavor and texture.

I'm a sucker for any sort of crispy cookie and these are my gold standard. The key is to slice them very thinly...if a thick one manages to sneak into the bunch, the magic is lost.

For 6 dozen or so:

  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 cup finely chopped walnuts

In the bowl of a mixer, cream butter and shortening together. Add the sugars, then the eggs, mixing well and scraping the bowl down once or twice.

In a bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Add to the mixing bowl and beat until just combined. Fold in the walnuts.

Turn the dough out onto a sheet of wax paper and with your hands, form it into a rectangular-shaped log about 4 inches in diameter. Roll the log up with the wax paper, tie both ends, and place in the freezer overnight or until ready to bake. One long log can be made, or several, depending on your preference and freezer space.

When ready to bake, heat the oven to 350 degrees. Thinly slice the dough about an 1/8-inch thick and place 1-inch apart on ungreased baking sheets. Bake for 8-10 minutes until the edges are just golden. Cool on a wire rack.

Keep the remaining dough in the freezer until ready to use. The cookies will keep in a covered container for several weeks.


Anonymous said...

I love the idea of cookies that can be stored frozen in dough form until you need them...not sure why I don't make more of those. I'll have to try these because I like to have recipes that call for shortening when I'm low on butter. :) Thanks!

Unplanned Cooking said...

How perfect -- cookies that can be cooked from frozen dough.

kickpleat said...

I've never been that smitten with icebox cookies, but with your glowing recommendation, I'll definitely try them!

PhoebeH said...

I am so smitten w/these cookies I must comment. They are just what I've been looking for for DECADES! (I'm almost 77.) Marvelous brown sugar flavor, delicate crunch, slice frozen so beautifully thin (1/8"); spread just enough in baking, bake evenly; dippable in tea/coffee w/o crumbling in the cup or on the way back to your mouth. (And I dare you to try them sandwiched w/Trader Joe's Peanut Butter! )

I made two batches in quick succession: the first making just one change (all butter) because I don't use veg. shortening. (Well, plus a dash of salt & a tsp. of vanilla :o)

The second batch I used pecans and half butter/half non-hydrogenated lard, and they were even better: slightly less hard and still sturdy enough for dipping.

Icebox cookies have always been my favorite for their convenience, and I vow to never again be w/o THESE in the freezer.

BTW: I form the dough into 3 (approx. 2" sq.) bars and get a full 10 doz. (~2.5") cookies from the recipe.

Important to chop nuts VERY fine when you're slicing so thin, and I always lightly toast the nuts I put in any baked goods. So much tastier.

Thank you thank you thank you thank you........