Chocolate Walnut Icebox Cookies

Chocolate Walnut Icebox Cookies
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chocolate walnut icebox cookies
Crispy! Nutty! Chocolate!

Well, we’d guess that there are only a few people in the US who still have and use an icebox, so perhaps the name of these cookies should be updated. But, we won’t, because the name gives an indication that this is an old recipe. From Heirloom Baking With The Brass Sisters, by Marilynn Brass and Sheila Brass, this is one of those recipes from years ago that’s worth saving.

We needed some snacks for a coffee hour social so we headed off to the stacks to see what we could scratch up. For something like a social hour, we look for recipes that are easy, seem as if they’ll be tasty, and make a lot. Easy, because most likely we’ll be making more than one item, tasty — well, we want people to enjoy whatever we make, and we need a lot because dozens of people will want to partake. These cookies seemed to fit the bill.

Chocolate Walnut Icebox Cookies

Yield: 9-10 dozen cookies

Chocolate Walnut Icebox Cookies


  • 3 cups (375 g) sifted all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 cups (65 g) cocoa
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 cup (120 g) walnuts
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 cups (400 g) brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Abbreviated Instructions

In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, and cocoa. Add salt and whisk to combine. Set aside.

Place walnuts in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Set aside.

Cream melted butter and brown sugar in a stand mixer on medium speed fitted with the paddle attachment until light in color, about 5 minutes. Add eggs and vanilla and beat in, 1 minute. Add flour mixture in two additions, mixing until just combined, 15 seconds, after each addition. Add walnuts and pulse mixer to combine.

Refrigerate dough for about an hour.

Remove dough from refrigerator and divide into three pieces. Place one on a piece of waxed paper and roll into a log about 1 1/4 inches in diameter. Wrap in waxed paper and refrigerate at least 2 hours, or overnight.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line baking sheets with parchment or silicone baking mats.

Slice dough into rounds 1/4 inch thick and place on baking sheets about an inch apart.

Bake 15 minutes, rotating from front to back and top to bottom halfway through.

Cool on sheets for 5 minutes before transferring to a baking rack to cool completely.

Ingredient discussion:

Here’s our rule for measuring flour by weight: if the recipe calls for sifting flour before measuring, use 125 grams per cup; if the recipe calls for unsifted flour, does not specify, or sifting after measuring, use 140 grams per cup. It might not be exact, but it works. For cocoa, we use a Dutch-processed dark cocoa from Valrhona; it’s the best we’ve had. It’s expensive, even in large quantities. Butter, as for all baking — well, everything actually — is always unsalted. We don’t need someone else salting our food; do you? We always recommend using eggs from hens that are treated well. It makes a difference, not only in flavor, but for the hens too. And, that’s important.

Procedure in detail:

sifting cocoa
At least sift the cocoa, as it can be quite lumpy right out of the bag or box.
whisking dry ingredients
Give all the dry ingredients a thorough whisking to prevent pockets of salt or baking soda.

Mix dry ingredients. Whenever we see cocoa in an ingredients list, we break out the sifter. You should, too, because cocoa is lumpy and needs sifting. So, in a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, and cocoa. (Confession time: we only sifted the cocoa). Add the salt, because it won’t go through the sifter, and whisk everything together. Set aside for now.

chopped walnuts
We generally buy large pieces of walnuts, but a food processor will turn them into small pieces in a trice.

Chop walnuts. Place the walnuts in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Or just buy chopped walnuts. Either way, you want the nuts chopped into pieces less than 1/4 inch in size. Set aside.

adding butter
Yes, this recipe creams together melted butter and sugar.

Cream butter and sugar. Place the brown sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, add the melted butter, and increase the speed to medium. Allow the mixer time to work its magic, creaming the butter and sugar together until it lightens both in color (it’ll take on a light caramel color) and texture, about 5 minutes.

adding eggs and vanilla
The original recipe called for beaten eggs, but we figured the mixer will take care of that.

Add eggs and vanilla. Stop the mixer, add the eggs and vanilla, and start mixing on medium. Let the mixer run for about a minute, long enough to combine the eggs fully. If needed, scrape down the sides of the bowl partway through mixing. Now, unless you’re worried about eating raw eggs, taste the mixture. It’s maple flavored, right? Without any maple!

adding dry ingredients
Start working the dry ingredients in by hand to prevent them from spewing out when the mixer is turned on.

Mix in dry ingredients. Add the dry ingredients in two additions. When we do this, we take the bowl and paddle attachment off the mixer, leaving the paddle to one side of the bowl, add the flour mixture, and, using the paddle to stir, partly mix by hand. It keeps the dry ingredients from flying out when the bowl and paddle are re-attached and the mixer’s turned on. After each addition, mix on low until just combined, 15 seconds.

adding walnuts
A few pulses of the mixer will fold in the chopped walnuts.

Fold in walnuts. Add the chopped walnuts and pulse the mixer to combine.

cookie dough
The dough is very, very soft now, but an hour in the refrigerator will fix that.

Refrigerate. Cover the dough and refrigerate for about an hour so it will be easier to work. Right now, it’s way too soft to shape without making a mess; chilling will stiffen it up.

shaping cookie dough logs
Once partway chilled, shape the dough into logs about 1 1/4 inch in diameter.

Shape. Divide the dough into three roughly equal pieces. Place each piece on waxed paper and shape into a log about 1 1/4 inch in diameter and about 18 inches long. Wrap each up in waxed paper to keep the dough from drying out.

Refrigerate. Back into the refrigerator for at least another 2 hours, but preferably overnight. This will make the dough easy to slice.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line baking sheets with either silicone baking mats (preferred), or pieces of parchment. Or, you might try what the original recipe suggests as an alternative: line baking sheets with aluminum foil, shiny side up, and spray with non-stick vegetable oil.

slicing cookie dough
We love slice-and-bake cookies. So easy.

Slice and bake. Remove a log from the refrigerator and slice into rounds 1/4 inch thick. Place on prepared baking sheets about an inch apart. The original recipe said that each sheet should have no more than 20 cookies on it. We went with 15 per sheet. Bake 15 minutes, rotating from top to bottom and front to back halfway through.

Cool. Let cookies cool for 5 minutes on the baking sheet before transferring to a baking rack to cool completely. The cookies will crisp up as they cool.

Easy and really tasty. These cookies crisp up nicely and have a good, strong, chocolate flavor, making you wish you had vanilla ice cream on hand to start making sandwiches. They’d be perfect for that. And, how can you go wrong with slice-and bake-cookies? You can make and shape the dough the day before baking, then just spend time slicing and baking the next day (that’s what we did). By splitting the effort over two days, making cookies is a breeze. The only downside is that this recipe makes a lot of cookies, so you might consider making a half batch, or freezing some of the dough for a later date. Five crispy, chocolatey, stars.

Worth the trouble?

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