These Persian walnut cookies have only four ingredients, are naturally gluten and dairy free & so easy to make. Traditionally for Nowruz, they're a tasty treat any time.
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We've had a few snowy days recently and it's the sort of weather that makes me want to bake. Not that I don't like snow, but it has been a bit too cold to have the kids (and me) out for too long. And our kitchen gets so cold, having the oven on helps warm it up too. A great excuse, right?
I've been thinking recently about foods for Nowruz, and I came across lots of tasty-looking cookies, including these Persian walnut cookies, nan-e gerdui. I definitely wasn't disappointed with my choice, these are so good.
A Nowruz treat
These Persian walnut cookies have so much going for them. First of all, they're easy to make, only four ingredients and naturally gluten free. Then when you try them they are deliciously sweet and nutty as you might expect, but also have a lovely combination of a dry, almost crisp outside and slightly chewy middle.
They are one of a number of cookies that are traditionally made for Nowruz, the Persian New Year. As I found out in this article, apparently legend has it that King Jamshid discovered sugar on Nowruz, so cookies and candies have become a common part of the celebration. Plus the word candy actually comes from the Persian word for sugar, qand.
Just as many Americans tend to cook many different Christmas cookies, those who celebrate Nowruz will often cook a few different Persian cookies. Many, like these walnut cookies are pretty simple using nuts or other non-wheat flours (like Persian rice cookies, and others with chickpea), eggs, sugar and a spice or two.
Since we liked these so much, I think I'm going to have to try some more of the others in due course. I've also loved the savory Nowruz dishes I have tried, like kuku sabzi, Persian herb fritatta, and the dolmeh barge mo which have been a favorite a while.
How to make Persian walnut cookies
As with most traditional recipes, these walnut cookies have a few variations. Some flavor with vanilla, others cardamon. Some grind the walnuts finely, others use pieces.
I have gone with a fairly simple version where you grind the walnuts in a food processor. This makes them a bit like a coarse flour, but stop before the oils start coming out.
Separately, you whisk together the sugar, egg yolks and vanilla then add the ground walnuts. Scoop the mixture in heaped teaspoonfuls onto a baking sheet then top with chunks of walnut. Bake then let them cool before diving in.
These Persian walnut cookies are easy to make and such a delicious mix of sweet nuttiness, a dry outside and slightly chewy middle. A wonderful treat for any occasion.
Tools to make these cookies
Try these other tasty international cookies:
- Kleicha (Iraqi date cookies)
- Cucidati (Italian fig cookies)
- Basler brunsli (Swiss chocolate almond cookies - also gluten free!)
- Alfajores (dulce de leche sandwich cookies)
- Plus get many more Persian recipes and snack recipes, both sweet and savory, in the archives.
Persian walnut cookies (Nan-e gerdui)
- 1 cup walnut pieces
- 2 egg yolks
- 3 tablespoon sugar
- ½ teaspoon vanilla paste or extract if you don't have vanilla paste
- a few walnut pieces to top
- Preheat oven to 300F/150C and line a large baking sheet.
- Pulse the walnuts in a food processor until they're coarsely ground.
- Whisk together the egg yolks, sugar and vanilla for a few minutes until the mixture becomes paler and glossy.
- Fold in the ground walnuts and stir until well combined, but try not to over-stir so you still have a bit of air in the mixture.
- Take small spoonfuls (heaped teaspoonfuls) of the mixture and put on a baking sheet, with around 1in/2.5cm or more between them. Smooth off the pieces of dough so they are fairly round and gently press a piece of walnut into the top of each cookie.
- Bake for approximately 15 minutes until lightly brown. Leave them to cool on the baking sheet a few minutes as they will be a little soft.
See some of my favorite cooking tools and ingredients in the Caroline's Cooking Amazon store.