A large walnut tree stands proudly in the middle of my parent’s orchard. It took the tree years to produce its first nuts, but during the last few years it has really started to get the hang of it. This year’s harvest is the biggest yet and large racks of drying nuts fill every free space in the house. I especially like the fresh ‘wet’ nuts that have just fallen. They are juicy and soft and have a mild almost milky taste. I always peel of the soft brown skin from the cracked nuts and don’t mind that the job stains my fingers. The bitter tannic in the skin spoils the freshness of the taste. After almost a week the wet nuts have dried and the flesh has crisped up. No need for peeling anymore! I used my own freshly cracked dried nuts in my version of the classic bem casado cookie from Brazil for a nice autumnal flavor and some extra crunch.
Bem casado walnut cookie
for about 10 cookies
1 can of condensed milk
35 grams (2½ tablespoons) sugar
65 grams flour (⅔ cup)
pinch of salt
1 teaspoon grated nutmeg
75 grams walnuts (¾ cup) + 10 nice walnut halves
125 grams icing sugar (1 cup)
60 milliliters boiling water (¼ cup)
a piping bag with a smooth round tip
Put the unopened can of condensed milk in a little pan with water. The water should cover the can. Bring to the boil. The paper label will let loose. Take the paper out of the water and cover with a lid. Leave to boil on very low heat for about 3 hours. The milk will caramelize into toffee. Check every now and then if the can is still covered by water. Take the can out of the pan and leave to cool.
With an electric mixer beat the eggs with the sugar for about 7 min. until light and airy. Sift the flour with the salt and the nutmeg over the mixture and carefully mix. Preheat the oven to 180˚C/350˚F.
Cover a cookie sheet with baking paper. Spoon the mixture into the piping bag. If you don’t have a piping bag, spoon small tablespoons of the mixture on the baking paper. Leave some room to spread. Bake the cookies for about 10 minutes in the middle of the oven until light brown. Take out of the oven and leave to cool on the cookie sheet.
Beat the icing sugar into the water.
Open the cooled can of caramelized condensed milk. Mix in ¾ of the chopped walnuts. Spread about 1 teaspoon of the caramel on the bottom of half of the cookies. Cover with the left over cookies. press the rest of the chopped walnuts against the sides of the cookie.
Dip the cookies in the syrup, they should be completely covered. Take out of the syrup, place a walnut half on top of each cookie. Leave to drip and dry on a wire rack. Sprinkle with icing sugar
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