Double-Dip Nut Fingers
Why I Love This Recipe
This is one that my dad's a champion for - he naturally gravitates towards anything that involves nuts. This is yet another simple cookie that is a refreshing break from the "Double Chocolate Blueberry Cheesecake with Cookie Crust and S'mores Topping" desserts that often crowd the holiday treats table. Keep it simple, you'll never go wrong.
Ingredients You'll Need
• 1 ¼ cups (10 oz, or 2 ½ sticks) unsalted butter, softened
• 3 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
• ¾ cups granulated sugar
• ½ tsp baking soda
• ¼ tsp salt
• 1 egg
• 2 tbsp freshly-grated orange rind
• 12 oz (1 standard package) semi-sweet chocolate chips
• 2 tbsp milk
• Walnuts, chopped fine
• Special Equipment: a cookie press, or a heavy-duty pastry bag
1. Preheat the oven to 425°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda and salt to combine. In a standing mixer, beat the butter and sugar until light and creamy, 1-2 minutes. Beat in the egg and the orange rind. Lower the mixer speed to medium-low and add in the flour mixture. Beat until just combined.
3. Scrape the dough into a cookie press or pastry bag. Using a tip with a generously-sized opening, pipe out cookies onto the tray in 2” segments. Leave 1” of space between cookies.
4. Bake for 5-8 minutes, until puffed and lightly golden. They should be setting up but not browned. Remove from the oven, slide onto cooling racks and cool to room temperature. This step can be done ahead a few days; once cool, store in airtight tins at room temperature.
5. Final assembly: Melt the chocolate chips and milk in a double-boiler or medium metal bowl set over a pan of simmering water; whisk to combine. While the chocolate is melting, spread the chopped walnuts on a baking tray lined with wax paper. Remove the chocolate from the heat and set up a station next to the walnuts. Dip the ends of each cookie into the chocolate, letting the excess run off and leaving the middle one-inch of the cookies unadorned. Immediately roll them in the nuts to completely coat. Set the cookies onto a tray lined with wax paper and allow the chocolate to fully set before serving.
While I am a major devotee of the pecan, and generally tend to think it can replace walnuts in just about anything, even I will admit that walnuts and chocolate play well together. But if you want to use pecans or almonds, you can, but I highly recommend toasting the nuts before chopping. It’ll give them a little more body to stand up to the chocolate.
Speaking of the chocolate, don’t go crazy. This is not a chocolate cookie – it’s only supposed to accent the cookie and nuts. There’s no need to slather the chocolate on thickly. Sometimes I’ll only dip one end of the cookie. Think of this as something you could serve with tea. Again, no need to get too fussy with the chocolate here. If it seems too thin, let it cool on the counter for a few minutes until it regains a little body. If it’s too thick, put it back on the double-boiler and whisk for a few seconds to loosen up again.
This dough can be a bit stiff, due to the higher flour content. So a pastry bag might not work for you. A cookie press is designed to handle it. You can get a decent one starting around $30. If you’re going to buy one, look for a press that offers interchangeable piping tips and decorative discs. The discs are for pressing out flat cookies, and they’re usually the default feature for a cookie press if it doesn’t offer both. You can get fancy and use a star tip, but as these will puff some in the oven, I just generally go with whatever’s on hand.
No cookie press? Don’t want to buy one? Totally understand – it isn’t good for much else besides pressing cookies, after all. Not to worry; you can still make these. Instead of pressing the cookies out, pinch off rounded tablespoonfuls of dough, roll briefly in your palms in a circular motion to form a ball about 1” in diameter, then roll back and forth to spread it out to a cylinder with rounded edges. Place it on the baking sheets, repeat and bake. The only thing to keep in mind is to handle the dough as little as possible. Your palms will transfer a little bit of your body heat to the dough, which can start the butter melting. Additionally, the more you work the dough, the more gluten develops, and the more likely the final product is to be tough.