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Black Walnut Cookie Recipe, a Specialty of Gramma Morgan

Maren brings you rare or fun recipes and news of funky, out-of-the-way places to dine or buy treats. She is a teacher, mom, and foodie.

Black Walnut Cookies

LIGHTLY browned at the edges, these black walnut cookies have just come from the oven.

LIGHTLY browned at the edges, these black walnut cookies have just come from the oven.

My Gramma Morgan

Families create rituals and warm memories for their children which last beyond lifetimes. Such is the case with my formidable Gramma Anna Morgan. Born at the beginning of the twentieth century, she raised five children during the Great Depression. She kept house in a solid brick home on Fourth Avenue, Altoona, Pa. which had no electricity - instead gaslights and kerosene lanterns. Wash day (laundry day) was as back breaking, complicated, and long as all the nursery rhymes purport. Yet, through all this she "loved up" my father and his siblings. One of the ways she showed her love was with her Christmas cookies.

The Family Recipe

The original recipe handed down to me from my mother.  (Quantities are doubled - the Morgans are a big family.)

The original recipe handed down to me from my mother. (Quantities are doubled - the Morgans are a big family.)

Kitchen Fragrances Can Take Us Back in Time

In a very good way, the sense of smell triggers memories of the far past. The fragrance of food associated with happy periods acts as a time machine. Understandably, my father requests one of his mother’s special Christmastime cookies as we gather each year for the holiday. It is a fabulous cookie. Although Gramma called them “Clifford Tea Cookies,” I have renamed them to honor her. You can almost see her bustling around in her kitchen as you smell and nibble them.

Essential Ingredient: Black Walnuts and Extract

Take the time to buy these.  You will love it.

Take the time to buy these. You will love it.

Black Walnuts are Very Distinctive


Please – if you consider trying this recipe and use “regular walnuts,” it will not be the same cookie. It will not necessarily be a BAD cookie, but it won’t be this wonderful black walnut one. I recommend that one takes the time to purchase black walnuts and black walnut extract.

Last year, my extract was used up. A few days before Christmas, I started a mildly frantic search for more. Apparently, black walnut extract is not as ubiquitous as it once was. Many Internet searches and phone calls were required before I located a kindly professional baker who sold me a bottle of her extra-strength professional black walnut extract. That was her Christmas gift to my family!

Ingredients


(This produces about 3-1/2 to 4 dozen cookies.)

¾ cup butter, softened

1 and 1/8 cup of firmly packed brown sugar

1 egg

1 teaspoon black walnut extract

1 and ½ cups white flour

½ teaspoon baking SODA (not “baking powder”)

1 cup chopped black walnuts

Procedure:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Put the butter in a large mixing bowl and soften by letting it stand out (or modern way: by microwaving on VERY LOW for 10 seconds.)

The butter, softened.

The butter, softened.

Brown sugar is added.

Brown sugar is added.

Add the brown sugar and cream them together.

Then add the egg and black walnut extract to the bowl and beat together.

More Cookie Ingredients

One egg.

One egg.

Get the powder called Baking SODA.

Get the powder called Baking SODA.


On top of the wet mixture in the bowl, pour ONLY 1 cup of the flour.

Then sprinkle the ½ teaspoon of baking soda all over it. Mix the two dry ingredients together a little with a spatula or spoon. Then add the remaining ½ cup of flour on top.

Stir everything together gently with a spoon to get it wet. If you use an electric mixer first, you will probably have flour flying all over your kitchen.

Beat together until thoroughly mixed.

Then drop by teaspoon onto a cookie sheet with about 1 and ¼ inches between the cookies.

Ready to Bake

Size and spacing of the cookies before they go into the oven.

Size and spacing of the cookies before they go into the oven.


Set a timer for 8 minutes and STAY in or near the kitchen! No multi-tasking is permitted if it takes you too far from the oven. (Been there, burned those.)

Check the cookies at 8 minutes. With my oven, they needed 10 minutes of backing time and they also might need 12 minutes in your oven. When they are lightly brown at the edges remove the cookies.

What "ready to take out" looks like

The edges should be lightly browned.  Obviously, my Gramma did not use parchment paper under the cookies, but you can add that feature if you wish.

The edges should be lightly browned. Obviously, my Gramma did not use parchment paper under the cookies, but you can add that feature if you wish.

After the cookies have cooled for 2 to 5 minutes, use a metal turner to remove them from the cookie sheet. Enjoy these strong sweet walnut cookies!

My Gramma would have beaten all the ingredients by hand and they always were thoroughly blended. That humbles me.

Where It Started: Altoona, Pennsylvania

© 2011 Maren Elizabeth Morgan

Comments

Maren Elizabeth Morgan (author) from Pennsylvania on March 07, 2019:

Lonna, thanks for sharing your memories. As you read above, I needed to find a baking supply company to get my black walnut extract. I hope you find some easily! Enjoy!

Lonna Dempsey Miles on March 06, 2019:

This recipe sounds delicious. I happened to find black walnuts a few months ago and they are still in my refrigerator. I must now search for the extract. I grew up in a steel mill town 25 miles from Pittsburgh and remember a local dairy store had black walnut ice cream. I liked the unique flavor even as a child. Thank you for sharing your grandma’s recipe!

Barbara Ray Fayetteville NC on June 05, 2018:

So happy to find your black walnut cookies!!!

Was at the grocery store the other day, an I saw the black walnuts an it took me back to my childhood!!! We lived in-the Beltway of DC, Rock-creek Park was down the street!!! There were Black walnut trees, I*d help myself to all the black nuts, an I remember my grandmother making cookies and cakes!!! Thank you for the recipe!!!

Maren Elizabeth Morgan (author) from Pennsylvania on December 25, 2011:

@BT - cashews? Sounds interesting. I might be tempted to use half white sugar and half brown sugar with that.

@adrienne2 - thanks. Let me know how you like them.

Fierce Manson from Atlanta on December 25, 2011:

Hi Maren, I was reading through your recipe wasn't sure if it was one I was going to try. You got me at strong and sweet, gonna try it! Thanks for sharing with the HP community. Voted up and useful!

Maren Elizabeth Morgan (author) from Pennsylvania on December 25, 2011:

I just heard that one of my aunts hasn't had these cookies for a long time. I am going to bake some and send them her way.

B.T. on December 24, 2011:

How do you think cashews would work? Is there such a thing as cashew extract?

Rose Clearfield from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on December 24, 2011:

You are definitely right that smells can take you way back in the past! Thanks for sharing this wonderful recipe. I've never used black walnuts for baking before, but I'll have to give it a try sometime.

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