It's obvious that Nancy Miller of Toronto knows a good cookie when she sees one. The Panel of Experts loved this nutty twist on traditional shortbread because they not only taste wonderful, but are also tons of fun for kids to help produce. And, hey, if Jackie can make these, so can you.
1 cup pecans, or walnuts
250 g unsalted butter
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tbsp sherry
2 cups all-purpose flour
250 g chocolate, (either a large bar of semi-sweet chocolate or chocolate kisses)
Measure the nuts into a baking dish and toast in the oven at 350°F (180°C) for 10 minutes. Let cool.
In the bowl of a food processor, combine the toasted nuts, sugar and sherry. Process until the nuts are finely ground and the mixture is smooth. Add the flour and continue to process until the dough is thoroughly mixed. If you don't have a food processor, chop the nuts with the sugar in a blender until finely ground, then dump into a bowl and beat in the sherry and flour with an electric mixer. (You can make the dough ahead of time and keep it in the refrigerator. Just let it come to room temperature before using.)
Now, if you're using large chocolate bars, break them along the perforations first into rows, then into individual squares - usually 5 squares per row. Break each square in half. You should have a chunk of chocolate about the size of a foil-wrapped chocolate kiss, which, if you're using, simply unwrap (a great kid job).
Using about a tablespoon of dough per cookie, completely cover a chunk of chocolate by hand, rolling it into a ball about the size of a walnut. Don't worry about making the cookies perfectly round - they'll flatten as they bake anyway.
Place the balls on a cookie sheet lined with baking parchment (find it with the baking supplies in your supermarket) about 1 in. (2.5 cm) apart. Bake at 325°F (160°C) for 18 minutes. Let stand for 5 to 10 minutes before trying to remove the cookies from the pan and place on a rack to cool completely.
Sprinkle heavily with icing sugar just before serving. See? Snowballs!
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