A recent trip to an international market where I saw Orzeszki, the Polish Walnut Cookies, reminded me that I had purchased the special mold to make these cookies. Silly me, I hadn’t tried to make them yet!
The mold makes 3-dimensional walnut halves, which you fill and sandwich together. Carmelized sweetened condensed milk is a popular filling, as is Nutella. I also made a walnut-white chocolate filling that was my personal favorite.
Christmas may be the most popular time to make these Polish Walnut Cookies. One year, my friend Gosia sent me a beautiful photo, a plate of pierniczki with a few orzeszki that had been dusted with an edible gold luster. It was an impressive presentation.
The cookie itself seems to be a cross between shortbread and a fortune cookie. They can be made with the press-like mold such as the one I bought which is cooked over a burner, or with little walnut-shaped pans in which you press the dough to line the pan and then bake. You might also find electrical devices more like a waffle iron that produce the walnut halves.
Having baked them on the stovetop, I can say that it’s a messy process. The dough is very short, and I had some of the butter melt and run out when I filled the pan to cook the other side.
I opened a window and put the exhaust fan on high speed and managed to bake the entire batch without setting off the smoke alarm, unlike my experience with some cajun dishes.
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Not as quick and easy to make as an American chocolate chip cookie. I’ll put Polish Walnut Cookies in the same catergory as Italian pizzelles – a fun, unique cookie that is worth the trouble for special occasions and holidays.
Perhaps you make some Orzeszki and share them with a friend who makes pizelles. Hopefully, she’ll return the favor!
Try authentic orzeszki, a Polish walnut cookie. Two halves sandwiched around a filling of caramel of other yumminess!
- 1/2 cup butter, softened
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 large egg
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda (optional)
- 1 teaspoon vinegar (optional)
- 1 1/4 cups flour
- oil, to brush the pan
- powdered sugar, to dust the cookies (optional)
for filling #1
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1/4 cup powdered sugar
- 1/2 cup white chocolate chips, melted
- 2 tablespoons marscarpone cheese, softened
- 1/3 cup walnuts, toasted (8 minutes at 350° F, and ground)
for filling #2
- 13.4 ounces dulce de leche
- 1/2 cup butter, softened
- Combine 1/2 cup softened butter with the salt, 1/2 cup powdered sugar, vanilla, and an egg. Stir in the baking soda and vinegar if you decide to use them. Stir in the flour until uniformly combined. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap or foil, and chill for an hour.
- Lightly brush the inside of the walnut press with oil (only before the first batch). Roll a small amount of dough, about the size of a small marble (approximately 1/2 – 5/8-inch in diameter, see notes). Fill each walnut indentation with a small ball of dough.
- Press the top down and hold the handles together while cooking over medium-high heat for 2 – 3 minutes on each side. You can check the cookies to see if you’ve reached the desired brownness. Open the press over a plate. Use a wooden spoon to nudge the cooked dough to loosen it. The cookies should just fall out.
- For filling #1, combine all ingredients, and chill.
- for filling #2, combine the dulce de leche and butter, and chill.
- Fill each half with a filling and pair them up and sandwich them together.
- Dust with powdered sugar (optional).
This is the recipe that came with my walnut cookie press. I’m marking the baking soda and vinegar as optional because most recipes written in Polish don’t include them.
It might take some trial and error to get the size right. If the amount of dough is too small, you won’t get a fully-formed walnut half. If you use too much, it will overflow from the mold. I decided to error on the generous side. I scraped anything escaping from in between the plates during cooking with a wooden spoon and trimmed the excess from the “walnut” halves after the cookies had cooked with a paring knife or scissors.
Keywords: Orzeszki Polish Walnut Cookie