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Nov 14, 2011 02:12 PM

Bessie’s Walnut Cookies (at the request of chowser)

Bessie’s Walnut Cookies

8 eggs
2 cups sugar
2 cups oil
8 cups flour
3 Tbsp. baking powder
3 cups chopped walnuts
1 Tbsp. vanilla extract (sometimes she used ½ tsp vanilla and ½ tsp. almond)

In a bowl, mix together the eggs, oil and sugar. In a separate bowl, mix together the flour and baking powder. Add the flour mixture to the egg mixture. Add in the nuts and extract. Stir until well combined. Then divide the dough to form three logs. Bake each log on a greased baking sheet at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes. Once cooled slightly, slice them about an inch thick into cookies.


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  1. How unusual! What is the texture of the cookies like? It must make a lot of cookies, though a 1 inch thick cookie is very large. What is the diameter of the logs? And do they flatten out when baked as a log?

    3 Replies
    1. re: roxlet

      I must admit roxlet, I've never thought of these cookies unusual. Just delicious with a strong cup of tea or coffee. Bessie made them weekly for our family; double batches because the neighbors would stop in for them too.

      Bess was never precise in her measure of the logs but the logs do spread while baking. I've never placed more than two logs on one baking sheet and more times than not just one log. And, I tend to shape the logs about 3 inches across and 7 inches long but that can vary too. My sister makes these as individual cookies; no logs and adjusts her baking time. Texture-softer than biscotti and full of nutty goodness.

      1. re: HillJ

        And are they really an inch thick? When your sister makes them as individual cookies, how large does she make them?

        1. re: roxlet

          Yes, an inch thick in log form.

          My sister takes a medium spring-loaded scoop and portions out rounds pressing down slightly to flat the round and then bakes each tray at 350 degrees for about 12 minutes. No more than 8-10 cookies per tray because they will spread and puff up.

    2. Interesting recipe! Does it end up looking like biscotti? After asking, I remembered I have to avoid walnuts (daughter's allergies) but maybe I could use toasted almonds and that would work w/ the almond extract. They seem very biscotti like, only w/out the twice baking. Thanks for sharing!

      1 Reply
      1. re: chowser

        chowser, I have never made these cookies with anything other than walnuts so I can't vouch for almonds. But if you do try it (almonds/almond extract) let me know. The shape is biscotti like, but the flavor is not and as I said my sister bakes them as individual cookies, so there's nothing biscotti like about her version.

      2. question about the vanilla alternative: did she use 1/2 tsp of each, or 1/2 Tbsp of each?

        2 Replies
        1. re: goodhealthgourmet

          Actually just the way I wrote it....of course I was 12 at the time....and Bessie's Russian and mine were well, different.

          1. re: HillJ

            i thought about it after i posted and realized it makes sense since almond extract is pretty potent...the left side of my brain was just reacting to seeing a 2-teaspoon difference in the total amount of extract depending on which way you go.

        2. Can't wait to try this! Has anyone here done so yet? If so, please report back (even if you didn't like them!

          HillJ, How coarsely did she chop the walnuts? And why greased cookie sheets? I thought it was a (rare) truism that parchment's better for cookies.

          2 Replies
          1. re: Jim Leff

            because a Russian immigrant several decades ago mightn't even have known what parchment paper was, let alone be able to afford it.

            1. re: Jim Leff

              Bessie chopped her walnuts in a wooden bowl with a double-blade chopping knife (the same one she used when making chopped chicken livers, btw) until the walnut meat was the size of small peas. Bessie would never have used parchment she got older she became a fan of cut brown paper bags as liners for her chocolate chip cookies but always used vegetable oil to lightly grease the cookie trays for her walnut cookies (emphasis on light hand).

              eta: I do recall her using the double cookie tray method that Von demonstrated to protect the cookie bottoms from browning but she made at least 40 different styles of cookies in her kitchen so the methods varied.

            2. Hi HillJ. Thanks for posting the recipe. I made these for the first time tonight. My log crumbled some when I sliced it, and I think I undercooked them. (They actually look more done in reality than they do in the photo, but still.) The warm ends were tasty - I'm looking forward to finding some way to cook the dough that works for me. If you're still following this thread, I'd love any thoughts you have for me.

              4 Replies
              1. re: THewat

                THewat, thanks for giving the recipe a try and including a photo.

                Over the years, I've played with the basic Bessie dough quite a bit. The right thickness and log shape is important to even baking. If you find the middle too doughy and you are shaping the log correctly, I would recommend twice baking. Once as a log and then once sliced into cookies. But give it another try!

                1. re: HillJ

                  Oh! I'm so glad you're there! Am I right that these seem under-baked? (I don't know what I'm aiming for.) And when you shape the log, how tightly do you shape it? I might have been able to really roll it into a cylinder, but I just pushed it into a log. When it came out of the oven it was cracked on top, and when I sliced it, parts of it crumbled...

                  1. re: THewat

                    It's hard to tell about the underbake from the photo so I'm taking your word for it. The dough is dense. When I shape the log I make sure the height is equal across the entire length and width of each log. Don't roll it into a round cylinder. Once baked, it does crack on top but when you slice the cookies they should be dry but not crumble apart.