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What a month it’s been!  A move, a never-ending cold, a torn cornea, three conferences, and a handful of major deadlines slammed me all at once.  Now that Spring Break is finally here, and my sinus congestion is clearing up, I can finally breathe — literally and figuratively — again.

So I’ve been afforded a week off from teaching class, and my first order of business was to pop the cork of a heady Pomerol and engorge myself on too many of these buttery polvorones.

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In my previous house (a new build with brand-new appliances), the oven had a terrible temperature gradient that ran cooler at the top.  Anything not cooked on the top rack would burn to a crisp.  Cookies were impossible to make in that oven.  But in my new house, the 20-year-old oven left by the previous owners, is actually one of the best ovens I’ve ever had the pleasure of cooking with.  Cookies turn out perfectly, regardless of whether they’re baked on the top or bottom rack.

 

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These Spanish-style shortbread cookies are the perfect tea cookie — rich and a little heavy, yet daintily round and mild.  Most polvorones recipes call for blanched almonds, but I love the red walnut in them because of the hint of bitterness and the delightful red-colored flecks throughout the cookie.  If you can’t find red walnuts, regular walnuts will do.

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Red Walnut Polvorones

Makes about 40 cookies | Cook time 100 minutes (75 inactive)

  • 6 ounces whole or halved red walnuts
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3/4 C sugar
  • 2 + 1/4 C flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 C confectioner’s sugar
  • 1/4 C cornstarch
  1. Preheat oven to 325°F and prepare two cookie sheets lined with parchment or Silpats.
  2. Crush walnuts to a coarse meal, using mortar & pestle or food processor.  Set aside.
  3. Cream butter and sugar.  Add flour, salt, walnuts, and vanilla, and mix until well-incorporated.
  4. Dough will be crumbly and dry, like pie crust.  Form tablespoon-sized spheres by packing the dough and shaping.
  5. Place formed dough onto prepared cookie sheets and chill in refrigerator for 30 minutes.
  6. Bake for 18-20 minutes.  Upon removal from oven, transfer immediately onto cooling racks to prevent further browning on bottoms.  Cookies will firm up as they cool.
  7. After cookies cool to room temperature, toss to coat in a mixture of confectioner’s sugar and cornstarch.

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