I used to take my cookie decorating very, very seriously.

I’d spend hours painstakingly applying fondant and days layering each color of royal icing on some complicated design. I’d break out the sprinkles and the sanding sugars and the edible pearls. I’d use TWEEZERS on COOKIES.

The cookies were pretty. I’m not knocking that sort of edible art. But no one would EAT them! It drove me crazy. They looked too fussy, too labored over.

No one wants to eat a doily.

So now, I lean towards foods that look edible. And I love recipes that produce natural beauties, like these Walnut Acorn Cookies.

To form the acorns, you make a batch of walnut shortbread dough, divide it, and roll it between your hands into small egg shapes. Then, bake the cookies, and make the acorn caps by dipping half of each cookie in melted chocolate and rolling that half in chopped walnuts.

The walnut shortbread would be melt-in-your-mouth good on its own – buttery and sandy, with an intense walnut flavor – but that little bit of chocolate takes it to another place. And the extra chopped walnuts on the outside give the cookie lots of texture and crunch.

Best of all, people EAT them. And they don’t require tweezers.

Walnut Acorn Cookies

Adapted from “The Gourmet Cookie Book”

Makes about 4 dozen cookies

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup finely chopped walnuts (4 ounces)
    For Decoration:

  • 8 ounces semisweet chocolate, melted
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts (2 ounces)
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt.
  3. Using an electric mixer, beat together the butter, brown sugar and vanilla until pale and fluffy.
  4. Add the flour mixture at low speed, then stir in the walnuts.
  5. Form 2 teaspoons of dough into an egglike shape the size of an acorn. Arrange the “acorns” about 1 inch apart on ungreased baking sheets lined with parchment paper or Silpat®.
  6. Bake in batches, one sheet at a time in the middle of the oven, until undersides are light brown, about 10 minutes. Transfer to racks to cool. (If your dough starts going really soft while it’s waiting to go into the oven, pop it into the refrigerator to chill for a few minutes.)
  7. To Decorate: Dip half of each cookie in melted chocolate and then in chopped nuts. Place on a baking sheet lined with wax paper to set, about 15 minutes.