The Daley Question
March 11, 2014
Pat Prindeville's request for, among other items, a "Walnuss finger" cookie recipe ("Search for old recipes comes up with just one," Daley Question, Good Eating, Feb. 12, 2014) yielded no results from the Chicago Tribune archives. Readers were moved to submit various recipes they thought fit the bill – thanks to all who weighed in.
Prindeville, who hails from Palos Hills, Ill., wrote the recipe came from the German Village in Columbus, Ohio. That sparked a quick response – and a recipe from Mark Weiss, the German Village Society's assistant for "visitorism."
"We asked around to some of our residents and may have an answer from a couple of our Society's old cookbooks that may help your readers," he wrote, crediting Marika and Russ Arledge for finding the recipe reprinted below from 1968's "German Village Cookbook." The recipe is titled: "Walnussfinger (Christmas Black Walnut Sticks)."
"While we do not have access to the article from 'all those years ago' in the Tribune, Marika's experience suggests it wouldn't vary much, if at all," Weiss wrote in a subsequent e-mail.
I have not tested the recipe.
Leslie Henebry of Essex, Conn., offered two possibilities, "one more elegant than the other." The elegant was a recipe for "Swiss Walnut Fingers" from "The Best of Craig Claiborne" cookbook, published in 1999. The second was a simple, shorter recipe for walnut fingers from Cooks.com.
And then there was this wonderfully whimsical e-mail from Michael Broyles of Aurora who transposed "Walnuss fingers" into "Walruss fingers" and quoted the opening words of "The Walrus and The Carpenter" by Lewis Carroll: "The Walrus and The Carpenter; were walking 'cross the land; the beach was wide from side to side; but much too full of sand…"
"The given name rolled itself around in my brain like a succulent appetizer teasing and taunting. Walruss fingers. I briefly imagine it as a form of marshmallow & walnuts with a chocolate square on a chocolate cookie in the shape of a finger. It just would not let go. So it seemed there was nothing to do but to track down that elusive recipe and perhaps give it a try," Broyles wrote. "Now I figured this actually was a sort of bar cookie and the recipe that popped into being upon my search was just that. But it was also so much more. It baked up into a slightly crunchy, chocolaty, caramel-y touch of heaven in the form of an addictive cookie!"
"It is true I did not find the requested recipe by Pat Prindeville of Palos Heights but I think this is a really good modern take," he said of the recipe, which is credited to California Walnuts, an arm of the California Walnut Board and the California Walnut Commission. The recipe is called "Walrus Bars."
Christmas Black Walnut Sticks
A recipe from 1968's "German Village Cookbook."
2 2/3 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup butter
5 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon each: nutmeg, baking powder
3/4 cup black walnuts
1.Cream together brown sugar, butter and eggs. Add 2 1/2 cups flour, nutmeg, baking powder and walnuts and mix again. Add remaining 2 1/2 cups flour and beat thoroughly. Roll in long strips like a pencil. Cut off pieces about 2 inches long and paint top with lightly beaten egg yolks. Bake in 350 degree oven until brown.
Swiss walnut fingers
Yield: About 16 cookies.
Connecticut's Leslie Henebry found this recipe in "The Best of Craig Claiborne" by Craig Claiborne with Pierre Franey.
1 cup, about 1/4 pound each: ground walnuts; ground almonds
1/2 cup flour
3 tablespoons superfine sugar
1 teaspoon grated orange rind
1/4 teaspoon each: ground allspice; ground mace or nutmeg; ground cinnamon
1/2 cup chopped citron or other fruitcake mixture
1 egg white, stiffly beaten
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon Grand Marnier or cognac
2 tablespoons confectioners' sugar
1 tablespoon water
1 tablespoon Grand Marnier or cognac
1.Combine the ground nuts, flour, sugar, orange rind, spices, chopped citron, and egg white. Heat the honey with the Grand Marnier and add it to the mixture. Blend well with the hands.
2.Shape the batter into a rectangle about 3-by-12 inches. Cut into fingers about 3/4 inch thick. Place the fingers on an oiled baking sheet and bake in a 325-degree oven for 30 minutes.
3. For the glaze, combine the sugar, water, and Grand Marnier. Brush the mixture over the fingers and let stand until dry.
Michael Broyles of Aurora, Ill., found this California Walnuts recipe to aid a Daley Question reader looking to make walnut finger cookies.
Makes 24 triangular cookies.
1 cup each: all-purpose flour; corn starch; icing sugar; cocoa
1 tsp salt
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup each: unsalted butter; brown sugar, firmly packed
1/2 cup liquid honey
3/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 tbsp rum extract
3 cups coarsely chopped walnuts
1.Line a 9-by-13-by-1-inch pan with aluminum foil, pressing foil against sides and corners of pan with edges hanging over sides of pan. Spray or grease bottom and sides of foil.
2.Whisk together flour, corn starch, icing sugar, cocoa and salt in a large bowl. Add softened butter and mix, using hands, until mixture is moist and crumbly. Press firmly over prepared pan. Bake in a 325-degree oven for 30 minutes.
3.Combine butter, brown sugar, honey and salt in a 3-quart saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil and continue cooking for 3 minutes. Remove from heat. Once bubbling stops, stir in heavy cream and rum extract. Stir in walnuts. Pour over shortbread base, spreading walnuts evenly. Pack firmly. Turn down oven temperature to 300 degrees and continue baking for an additional 20 minutes. Remove carefully from oven (filling will be very loose, but will set as it cools).
4.Let stand at room temperature for at least 2 hours. Once completely cooled, use overhanging foil to lift out of pan. Cut into squares or triangles and serve. Store in an airtight container, in the refrigerator, for up to one week.
Do you have a question about food or drink? E-mail Bill Daley at: email@example.com. Snail mail inquiries should be sent to: Bill Daley, Chicago Tribune, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago 60611. Twitter @billdaley.
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