John and Ginny Robinson
Dear John and Ginny: Mountain Restaurant was happy to share its recipe, which we've adapted below. It combines rich, crumbly walnut shortbread with a sweet honeyed praline and chopped walnuts. The recipe makes about three dozen cookies, which is a good thing because it's hard to eat just one.
Mountain Restaurant's walnut praline shortbread
Total time: 35 minutes, plus chilling
Servings: About 3 dozen cookies
Note: Adapted from Mountain Restaurant in Idyllwild. This recipe requires the use of a food processor and mini-muffin pans (the muffin molds should be about 1 3/4 inches in diameter at the base).
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup heavy cream
In a small, heavy-bottom saucepan over medium-high heat, combine the brown sugar, sugar, butter and honey. Stir until the mixture comes to a boil, then whisk constantly for 3 minutes. Remove from heat, cool for 1 minute, then slowly whisk in the cream. This makes about one-half cup praline base.
Shortbread and assembly
2 cups (8.5 ounces) flour
2 cups (7.3 ounces) walnuts
1/2 teaspoon plus 1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup (1.2 ounces) cornstarch
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter, softened, plus extra for buttering the pans
1 cup plus 2 teaspoons (7.7 ounces) sugar
1/4 cup finely chopped walnuts
1. In the bowl of a food processor, blend together the flour, walnuts, salt and cornstarch until finely ground and fully combined.
2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, or in a large bowl using a hand mixer, beat the butter and sugar until combined and just fluffy.
3. Fold the dry ingredients into the butter mixture until completely combined.
4. Halve the mixture and roll each half into a log about 1 3/4 inches thick (the diameter of the log should match the diameter of the base of the mini-muffin molds). Roll the logs tightly in plastic wrap or parchment paper and refrigerate until chilled and solid, at least 1 hour.
5. Heat the oven to 375 degrees and grease the mini-muffin pans. Unwrap 1 log at a time and cut crosswise into about one-third inch coins. Place each coin in a greased mini-muffin mold, and repeat until all of the molds are filled. If you haven't yet used all of the dough, chill the remaining dough until ready to cut.
6. Using a half-teaspoon spoon measure, make an indentation in each shortbread coin. Fill each shortbread coin with one-half teaspoon of the praline base, then sprinkle over some of the chopped walnuts.
7. Bake each tray until the shortbread is set and golden brown, about 10 to 15 minutes. Remove and cool slightly before unmolding. Repeat with the remaining dough.
Each of 36 cookies: 152 calories; 2 grams protein; 16 grams carbohydrates; 1 gram fiber; 9 grams fat; 4 grams saturated fat; 14 mg. cholesterol; 9 grams sugar; 42 mg. sodium.