These buttery, nut-topped Swedish cookies have a texture that’s similar to sandy shortbread but they’re lighter, crumbling delicately with each bite. Their exterior boasts a unique sweetness and crunch that comes from brushing them with a mixture of lightly beaten egg white and sugar. In addition to providing a flavor and texture boost, this mixture helps the walnuts adhere to the surface of the dough. The walnut topping toasts as the cookies bake, adding nutty contrast to the lightly sweet cookie. These cookies traditionally sport a rustic ridged surface, which further ensures that the walnuts stay in place. To create these grooves, we simply pat the cookie dough into a rectangle and dragged a floured fork across the surface. Our dough was packed with butter, which made it rich and gave it great flavor but it also made it very sticky and difficult to maneuver. We found we needed to refrigerate the walnut-topped dough until it was firm before we cut it into rectangles for baking. To prevent the bottom of these delicate cookies from over browning, we baked them slowly at a moderate 350 degrees and then let them sit on the baking sheet for only 1 minute just enough time for them to set up before being transferred to a wire rack to cool.
- Yield: 40 cookies
- 2¾ cups (13¾ ounces) all-purpose flour
- Pinch salt
- 24 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
- ¾ cup (5¼ ounces) plus 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 large egg, separated
- 1 teaspoon almond or vanilla extract
- ½ cup walnuts, chopped fine
- Line baking sheet with parchment paper. Whisk flour and salt together in bowl. Using stand mixer fitted with paddle, beat butter and ¾ cup sugar on medium speed until pale and fluffy, 3 to 6 minutes. Add egg yolk and almond extract and beat until combined. Reduce speed to low, slowly add flour mixture, and mix until just combined.
- Transfer dough to prepared sheet and press into 10 by 8-inch rectangle, about ½ inch thick. Using floured fork, press tines into dough and pull across rectangle to make washboard design. Lightly beat egg white with remaining 1 teaspoon sugar in small bowl, then brush evenly over dough. Sprinkle dough with walnuts, pressing gently to adhere. Cover baking sheet tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
- Adjust oven racks to upper-middle and lower-middle positions and heat oven to 350 degrees. Slide dough, still on parchment, onto cutting board. Line baking sheet with fresh parchment; line second baking sheet with parchment.
- Cut dough into 2 by 1-inch rectangles and space them 1½ inches apart on prepared sheets. Bake until lightly browned and set, 20 to 25 minutes, switching and rotating sheets halfway through baking. Let cookies cool on sheets for 1 minute, then transfer to wire rack. Let cookies cool completely before serving.