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