Delicious chocolate cookies with toasted walnuts and filled with a sweet fig jam make for a lovely holiday treat.
For the cookie dough:
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup California walnuts, toasted
- 2/3 cup sugar
- 1/3 cup cocoa powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- pinch of ground nutmeg
- 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) chilled butter, cut in 15 - 20 pieces
- 2 egg yolks
- 2 teaspoons water
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
For assembling and decorating the cookies:
- 1/2 - 2/3 cup fig jam or apricot jam
- 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted
- 1/2 cup finely chopped California walnuts
- In a food processor fitted with the metal blade, combine the flour, walnuts, sugar, cocoa powder, salt and nutmeg. Process until the nuts are finely ground. Add the butter and pulse until blended into the dry ingredients and the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. In a small cup, whisk together the egg yolks, water and vanilla.
- Add to the flour mixture and process until the dough holds together in a stiff mass. Transfer the dough into a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 30 - 60 minutes, until firm but not hard.
- Preheat the oven to 350ºF, and cover cookie sheets with parchment paper. Divide the chilled dough in half (keep the piece you are not working on refrigerated). On a lightly floured surface, roll dough out to a thickness slightly less than 1/4-inch. If the top of the dough is sticky, sprinkle it lightly with additional flour. Using a heart-shaped (or round) cutter 1 1/2 - 2 inches in diameter, cut cookies from the rolled-our dough. Gather the scraps together, reroll them, and cut additional cookies. As cookies are cut, place them, about 1/2-inch apart, on the prepared cookie sheets. Bake 8-10 minutes, until the cookies look dry. Cool about 2 minutes, then transfer to racks to cool completely before filling. Continue rolling, cutting and baking until all the dough is used.
- To assemble and decorate the cookies, place half of them in a single layer on a large baking sheet. Spread each one with about 1/2 teaspoon of jam, then top with a second cookie. When all the cookies have been filled, top each with about 1/2 teaspoon melted chocolate, spreading the chocolate with the back of a spoon. Sprinkle the chocolate lightly with walnuts. Let the cookies stand 2 - 3 hours, or until the chocolate if firm, then store them in an airtight container.
- An alternative to rolling out the dough: For an easy, though not heart-shaped variation, the dough can be chilled, sliced and baked like refrigerator cookies. Place the prepared dough on a lightly floured surface and divide it in half. With your hands, roll and pat each piece into a log about 9 inches long and 1 1/2 inches across. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for several hours, until firm. (The dough will keep refrigerated for several days.) Cut the logs into slices slightly less than 1/4-inch thick, then bake, fill and decorate as directed.