Make Ahead

Alice's Right-Brain Nutty Butter Cookies

September 11, 2016
4 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
  • Makes 4 to 5 dozen cookies
Author Notes

There are lots of ways to customize these little cookies! Substitute whole wheat pastry flour for all or part of the all-purpose flour. Use brown sugar instead of white sugar. Add dried fruit. Add a generous tablespoon of brandy, rum, or bourbon along with the vanilla extract. Add 2 teaspoons ground coffee beans. Replace 1/3 cup of the nuts with roasted cacao nibs, or simply add the nibs without reducing the nuts. The sugar is flexible, too—how sweet do you want your cookies? Have your way with them!

Reprinted with permission from Sinfully Easy Delicious Desserts (Artisan, 2012). —Alice Medrich

What You'll Need
  • 1 to 1 1/2 cups (or a heaping cup) nuts (raw or toasted, or even roasted and salted)
  • 1 very slightly rounded cups (about 5.5 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour (or half all-purpose and half whole wheat flour)
  • 1/2 to 2/3 cups (3.5 to 4.625 ounces) sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon (generous) salt, unless you're using salted nuts
  • 8 tablespoons (4 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into chunks and softened
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup raisins, currants, or chopped dried fruit (optional)
  1. FOR COOKIES WITH CHOPPED NUTS: Pulse nuts in the food processor until they are a little coarser than you want them to be. Dump them out and set them aside. Combine the flour, sugar, and salt in the processor and pulse to mix thoroughly. Add the butter and vanilla and process until the mixture is blended, with no visible flour. Add the nuts and pulse just until they are dispersed in the dough.
  2. FOR EXTRA-TENDER COOKIES WITH GROUND NUTS: Combine the nuts, flour, sugar, and salt in the food processor and pulse until the nuts are finely ground. Add the butter and the vanilla and process until the mixture forms a dough with no visible dry ingredients.
  3. In either case, shape the dough into a 10- to 14-inch-long log (about 1 3/4 inches in diameter) on a large sheet of wax or parchment paper (or make 2 skinnier logs if you want smaller cookies). Chill for at least 2 hours, until firm enough to slice, or, preferably, overnight; the dough can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.
  4. Position the racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and preheat the oven to 350° F. Line a couple of cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  5. Remove the log from the fridge. If the dough is too hard to cut without crumbling, wait for 10 to 20 minutes, until it is still firm but sliceable. Use a sharp knife to cut the log into 1/4-inch-thick slices and place them 1 1/2 inches apart on the lined cookie sheets.
  6. Bake for 12 to 14 minutes, until light golden brown at the edges; rotate the sheets from top to bottom and front to back halfway through the baking time to ensure even baking. Set the pans on racks to cool completely, or slide the parchment liners onto racks. The cookies keep in an airtight container for at least 1 month.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Liza Posas
    Liza Posas
  • Franca
  • Nora
  • Smaug
  • Ana-Maria Popescu
    Ana-Maria Popescu
My career was sparked by a single bite of a chocolate truffle, made by my Paris landlady in 1972. I returned home to open this country’s first chocolate bakery and dessert shop, Cocolat, and I am often “blamed” for introducing chocolate truffles to America. Today I am the James Beard Foundation and IACP award-winning author of ten cookbooks, teach a chocolate dessert class on, and work with some of the world’s best chocolate companies. In 2018, I won the IACP Award for Best Food-Focused Column (this one!).

17 Reviews

Liza P. January 30, 2021
Excellent. I created two logs approx 3/4" in diameter as suggested. One log I sliced in 1/4" pieces and the other in 1/2" to compare. I like the texture of the thicker cut better. I was able to get over 4 dozen cookies. I used wheat flour w/ 1/2 cup of brown sugar and walnuts. I also added orange zest. This recipe is a keeper and look forward to making these again, experimenting with a variety of ingredients. Thanks chef!
Franca November 20, 2019
even at 1/4 inch slice, how on Earth do you get 4-5 dozen cookies from a 10-14 inch log?
Nora May 12, 2017
I was glad to see the comment about almond paste because I have some and wondered. Question: did you use it instead of butter? Did you substitute for all the butter? Thanks.
Nyasha February 7, 2017
Made these for my lab partner during spay week and they were a HUGE hit! I opted for almond paste, because a) I had a box in the pantry, and b) I was getting up at 5am every day to get to the OR & couldn't be bothered to pick up a bag of almonds, then mess with the food processor. I used cranberries, then splurged calorie-wise & dipped the bottom of each cookie in Ghirardelli 60% chips melted in the microwave with a tsp of salted butter. I had them cool on parchment paper, then stored them in the refrigerator. The result was a wonderfully crisp, crummy cookie with a immensely satisfying crack of thin chocolate. Hot damn. These were delicious. Can't wait for the next excuse to make them - that time with the directed type of nut. Brava! =]
Ellen September 18, 2016
I have to buy nuts and then I will be sure to try these! I am not much of a Cook but I am always looking for new things to bake! Thanks Food52!
Smaug September 13, 2016
I think she must have meant 3/16"- 3/4" would be a really big cookie.
erin September 13, 2016
Maybe - though I'm not sure I'm physically capable of cutting dough that thinly/precisely!
Smaug September 13, 2016
It's actually about average for a refrigerator cookie- a little under 1/4".
Caroline L. September 19, 2016
Hi both—a typo! Apologies for the inconvenience. They should be cut 1/4 inch thick.
Smaug September 19, 2016
Still doesn't quite add up, but closer.
Ana-Maria P. September 13, 2016
What kind of nuts?
Barb September 14, 2016
Whatever kind you like.
Rema September 12, 2016
These look wonderful! Could I use almond meal in place of finely grinding nuts myself?
Bascula September 13, 2016
I was wondering the same thing. A weight range for the nuts would help on this.
erin September 12, 2016
I'm confused about yield. If the log is 10 inches long and I'm to cut it into 3/4 inch slices, that will deliver 13-14 cookies, but the stated yield is 48 to 60 cookies.
Nina B. September 14, 2016
I think 3/4" is a typo. 1/4" sounds more like a typical refrigerator slice cookie.
Caroline L. September 19, 2016
It is indeed a typo! I'm sorry about that—it should be 1/4-inch slices.