So here’s a cookie that looks like a walnut and tastes like one, too! These cuties used to be one of my favourites growing up; I’d always seek them out at wedding parties and family gatherings – but they were rare. Now, being older, I can tell why: one needs special equipment to make them, and the cream is, oh so rich!
Don’t get discouraged, though. The orzeszki maker is not that expensive, and if you like walnuts – you’ll like these cookies also, which would justify such a purchase. Not too tricky to make, they only require a loving touch and a little patience. Without further ado – recipe below! And if orzeszki are not something you’re after but you just love walnuts, there are other recipes on the blog, like Walnut and Cardamom Kleicha, Walnut Crescents or Loaded Banana Loaf to name a few. Happy baking, everyone!
Orzeszki, the Cutest Walnut Cookies
for the pastry
100g potato starch
100g icing sugar
1/2tsp vanilla extract
1/2tsp baking powder
250g cold butter, cubed
for the walnut cream
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup caster sugar
3 egg yolks (use whites for meringue!)
pinch of salt
230g butter, room temperature
3tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup ground walnuts
HOW TO MAKE?
1. Start from making the pastry. Whisk flours, baking powder and sugar in a big bowl. Add cubed butter and work with your fingers (or electric mixer) until it resembles breadcrumbs. Add eggs and vanilla extract. Work with your hands or mixer until all ingredients come together. Knead into a ball, wrap in some clingfilm and put in the fridge for at least an hour.
2. Once the pastry’s chilled, plug in your orzeszki maker to warm up. Start making small balls out of the pastry – you have to judge the size yourself, as the makers differ slightly. Remember that too big of a ball will result in the pastry overflowing, and the balls that are too small won’t bake into a ‘shell’ that is big enough. Mine were the size of a small grape, but it did take a while to adjust. Bake the ‘shells’ in the preheated maker for about 2-3 minutes. Take them out and let them rest until cooled.
3. To make the cream, start from warming up 1/4 cup milk. Pour warm milk over the ground walnuts and set aside for about 15 minutes. This should rid the walnuts of their natural bitterness. Strain on the sieve and set aside.
4. Add 2tbsp of butter, remaining milk, heavy cream and half the sugar into a saucepan and bring to a slow boil (low heat). Add yolks, salt, remaining sugar and vanilla extract into a bowl and mix with an electric mixer until almost white. Add the sieved flour and mix for a bit longer.
5. When the milk with butter boil, measure out 1/3 cup and mix it into the yolk mixture. Now, add the yolk mixture into the saucepan with milk and butter. I recommend taking the saucepan off the heat to do so, and using a whisk to mix the two – we need to get a smooth custard, and not a lumpy cream. Put the saucepan back and cook for about 1 minute, stirring constantly and watching if it’s not burning at the bottom. Take off the heat, transfer to a bowl, cover with clingfilm so it covers the surface of the custard and leave to cool completely.
6. Add butter to a bowl and mix with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add cooled custard, all at once and mix until combined. Lastly, add strained walnuts and mix quickly. Cover the cream and put in the fridge for about 30 minutes to cool.
7. To assemble: take two baked orzeszki ‘shells’, fill one with walnut cream (about a teaspoon), and cover with another one. Set aside and repeat until you’ve run out of either shells or cream. Sprinkle ready orzeszki with some icing sugar. All done!