I'm so excited to share this recipe with you because it means I get to gush about two of my most favorite things in the universe: my mom and cookies.
I've told you how my mom goes overboard with holidays in the best possible way. She makes her own cards, wears the cutest seasonal pins, records every holiday special on TV, and decorates nearly every inch of the house. We tease her and say that "Christmas threw up" (or Halloween or Easter) but honestly love it and wouldn't have the holidays any other way.
However, at Christmas, there's one tradition that reigns supreme and it's what my mom looks forward to the most after all the trimming is finished -- the cookie baking.
On any given day during the two weeks before Christmas, you can bet the oven is on and the kitchen island covered with wire racks and cookies of all kinds. Chocolate chip, peanut butter blossoms, and her famous molasses crinkles just to name a few. I honestly couldn't tell you how many cookies are made, but it's safe to say it's a lot... and then some.
When I was younger, I only had eyes for the chocolate chip and peanut butter varieties. My sister and I liked them so much that we schemed to make some of the peanut butter blossoms "ugly" by squashing the warm Hershey's Kisses on top of the cookies. Ugly (though still delicious) cookies were deemed unfit for gifts, which meant more for us to enjoy at home.
I'd like to point out that it was my dad who taught us this trick. Ahem.
As I got older, my tastes changed slightly. The chocolate chip and peanut butter were still just as good, but the more complex flavors appealed to me more each year, like the warmth of the ginger and snap of the molasses crinkles.
But, my most favorite cookie is definitely these cinnamon nut diamonds.
Tender shortbread cookies are flavored with fragrant cinnamon and studded with finely chopped pecans. They're sweet and totally irresistable!
Once ignored by childish sticky fingers, I can't wait to get my hands on these now. They're the first thing I go for when I head home for the holidays and see the familiar cookie tins on the counter. So addictive that I lump them into the same category as the notorious Whoppers Robin Eggs. I am powerless against cinnamon nut diamonds.
Go ahead and try to have just one. I dare you. I triple dog dare you.
Three years ago: Basic pizza dough
Four years ago: Chocolate gingersnaps
Cinnamon Nut Diamond Cookies
(adapted slightly from the Woman's Day Encyclopedia of Cookery)
-makes roughly 3 dozen full cookies (plus extra edges)
A few notes: I've found that using a hand grinder or small food chopper does the best job processing the nuts, getting them finely ground enough for the cookies. If chopping by hand, take a little extra time to ensure pieces are small enough (no bigger than a grain of rice).
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 packed cup light brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg yolk
1 egg white + 1 Tablespoon water, lightly beaten
1 cup pecans, finely chopped, divided
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Sift together flour, salt, and cinnamon in a medium bowl and set aside. In large bowl of an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar on medium high until light and fluffy, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add vanilla and egg yolk, beating until combined. With mixer on low, gradually add flour mixture and 1/2 cup chopped nuts, mixing until evenly distributed.
Press dough into a 15-by-10-inch pan and pat or roll into an even layer. Brush dough with beaten egg white Sprinkle remaining 1/2 cup chopped pecans evenly over dough and gently press nuts into dough. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until dough begins to turn golden brown at edges and is firm to the gentle touch.
Transfer baking sheet to wire rack. Immediately cut cookies into diamond shapes, scoring in one direction, then another. Allow cookies to cool completely in pan. Re-score cuts, if necessary, and remove cookies from pan. Can be stored in container at room temperature for up to 2 weeks or frozen for up to 6 months.