Friday, December 2, 2011

Cream Cheese Walnut Shortbread

It's baking season! 

Ok, in my world it's always baking season.

It's COOKIE baking season!



I'm doing all my/our favorites, and adding in a couple of new ones.  We're having a Christmas party on the 10th, and the only dessert I'm serving is a huge platter of cookies.  It's the 2nd today and I've baked 4 different kinds so far.  Putting out a few for the family, and the rest are packaged and in the freezer, waiting for my friends to enjoy.

This is one of the new ones.  I cannot, for the life of me, remember where I got the recipe.  A magazine, I think.  I wrote the recipe on a card and forgot to make that notation.  My bad.  I did make a few changes, so I guess it's "my" recipe now, sort of.

With so many recipes swirling in my head, I thought there was lemon in this one.  I got the lemons out so they'd come to room temp (better for juicing).  Then, of course, I actually read this recipe and realized it didn't call for lemon. 

But then, after mixing up the dough, I tasted it and said "oh, please, walnuts and cream cheese are begging for lemon to join the party."  Not wanting to use my lemons for the job, because they actually do belong to another cookie, I did my little trick of using an essential oil to give me the flavor.

There's a lovely, family-run company called Beeyoutiful that sells, among other great products, a variety of essential oils.  I have many of them.  I used their lemon oil, about 10 drops, in this recipe.  Just gives the hint, or essence of lemon, without being a LEMON cookie.  Perfect.

Visit their website, buy their products, which are as great as the people who run the company:

www.beeyoutiful.com

Anyway, here's the recipe.  I doubled it.  It made almost 6 dozen cookies.

Cream Cheese Walnut Shortbread

2 cups flour
1 tsp salt
1 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped
1 1/2 sticks butter (3/4 cup) - room temp
4 ounces cream cheese - room temp
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
5-10 drops essential oil of lemon (or grated lemon peel, or lemon extract)

Heat oven to 350.

Combine flour and salt, set aside.  In a large bowl, cream the butter, cream cheese, sugar and vanilla for 4-5 minutes until very fluffy and pale.  Add in the dry ingredients and mix until combined.  Stir in the walnuts and lemon if using.

I used my Pampered Chef medium scoop, but you can do 1 tablespoon size.  Scoop a ball and place on parchment lined baking sheets.  Flatten slightly with your hand.  They should be about an inch apart.

Bake at 350 for 14-16 minutes until just starting to look golden at the bottom edge.  They will seem soft when they come out, but being shortbread, they'll firm up nicely on a cooling rack.