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Celebrating 2 Years of Blogging with Italian Walnut Pillow Cookies

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Apparently I’m a bad partner to myself because I totally missed my own blogging anniversary! It was actually back on February 11th, which marked two years since my very first post of Italian Wedding Soup. Well, we’re still in the anniversary month, so it’s not too late to celebrate, right? It’s hard to believe how far my blog has come since that first post. It started out on Blogspot, moved to Wordpress, and finally settled in to its own domain. I think my photography has greatly improved, and that my blog has a greater sense of focus and provides readers with useful information and not merely a collection of recipes.

Stay tuned, because I have some changes in mind for Brown Eyed Baker that I think will only improve the experience for you the readers. With that being said, I’d also love to know what YOU would love to see from my blog.  I want you to enjoy coming to Brown Eyed Baker, so let’s hear it! Suggestions, recommendations, anything. Do you want to see more recipes, more step-by-step instructions, more photography, Q&A’s, podcasts, informational (non-recipe) posts, etc? Give me your wish list!

Now, on to the celebrating. I started this blog with an Italian starter (soup), so why not celebrate with an Italian dessert?! (Actually, is a cookie dessert? I think it’s more of a snack, myself.)

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These cookies, simply known as “pillows” in my family, have been a favorite of mine since I was a kid. My grandma used to make these often, but the huge batches usually always appeared the week of Thanksgiving. Traditionally, some of my mom’s family that lives out of town always travels in for Thanksgiving, so my grandma always made tons and tons of these to have around while we all sat around talking, playing cards, and eating. They are basically little miniature nutrolls in a cookie form, topped with an icing glaze. There isn’t anything fancy about these - my grandma has made them for decades with nothing more than a hand mixer. It takes a bit of time to get the logs rolled with the filling and cut into individual pieces, but these cookies are absolutely worth it. I hope you give them a try - they are a family favorite!

pillow-collage

Italian Walnut Pillow Cookies

(Source: my grandma)

Yield: Approximately 7 dozen cookies

Dough:

1 cup sugar

1 cup shortening

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup milk

4½ cups all-purpose flour

4 teaspoons baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

Filling:

1½ lbs. walnuts, chopped (I use my food process0r)

4 oz. (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted

1½ cups sugar

4 egg whites, lightly beaten

Icing:

2 cups powdered sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

4 tablespoons milk (approximately)

Preheat the oven to 350°. Grease cookie sheets or line them with parchment paper.

In a bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Cream together the sugar and shortening. Add the egg and vanilla and combine well. Add in the remaining ingredients, alternating between the flour mixture and milk, starting and ending with the flour mixture and making sure all of the ingredients are well incorporated. The dough will be soft. Divide the dough into four even pieces, wrap each in plastic wrap, and refrigerate until ready to use.

To make the filling, either process the nuts through a food processor until finely chopped (just a smidge larger than all-out ground), or chop by hand. The smaller the pieces, the better. Combine the chopped nuts with the sugar and then add in the melted butter. Mix well, making sure there are no large clumps. Add the egg whites and again, mix well.

On a well-floured surface, roll out a piece of dough into a rectangle measuring about 6 inches by 18 inches. Spread ¼ of the nut filling onto the dough, leaving a small border around the perimeter of the dough. Roll up as you would a jelly roll, with the short ends to the left and right of you, and seal the ends. Cut the roll into 1-inch pieces and place on the cookie sheet. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the tops are just slightly starting to turn brown. Cool completely. Repeat with the remaining pieces of dough and remaining filling.

Once the cookies are cooled, prepare the icing by mixing together the powdered sugar, vanilla, and enough milk to achieve the desired consistency. You’ll want the icing to be thick enough to not be runny, but still easily spreadable. Ice the tops of the cookies and let set completely before storing in an airtight container.

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