Start with a soft cream cheese dough that is not sweet, then add a sumptuous filling made with toasted nuts, milk, and sugar, and what do you get? Melt-in-your-mouth-better-pop-another-one-right-away-kind of cookies! These are one of my must-haves for the Holiday Season.
I made a sample of these yesterday and gave some to my daughter Erika to take home for dessert after dinner. These cookies have always been one of Erika’s favorites, but her daughter, at the ripe old age of 4 and 3/4, did not remember them from the previous Christmas. Could it be because Erika did not share them a year ago? Well, that is no longer a viable option, because the granddaughter now wants the recipe so she can make them with her Momma over winter break. Makes my heart proud.
NOT AS HARD AS THEY LOOK
Strudel Cookies look more complicated and time consuming than they are. Make the dough from three ingredients and refrigerate it for a bit while making the filling. One night, after making the dough, I decided to wait until morning to finish the cookies. The dough was so hard, it took half a day to soften enough to be rolled, so I don’t do that anymore.
I absolutely recommend toasting the nuts before grinding them. You can use whatever nuts you prefer, but I have always make these using walnuts. I am sure they would also be good with pecans, almonds, or hazelnuts. I wouldn’t try peanuts, though; the concept just doesn’t ring true.
The filling itself is easy enough and also has just 3 ingredients. Whirl the toasted nuts in a food processor until finely chopped, but do not grind them into a paste. In a small pan, dissolve sugar in milk; add the toasted nuts. By the time the nut mixture cools down and is spreadable, the dough should be ready to roll, literally.
Roll the dough to a large, thin rectangle. Don’t worry if it isn’t exactly straight on the edges; I never do because it readily rolls up and the imperfect edges will be hidden. After cutting the rectangle down the middle to make two long rectangles, divide the filling and spread it on each half. Leave the straight cut, long edge with about 1/2 inch uncovered. Then roll each portion up and slightly pinch the edge closed.
Cut each long log into two smaller pieces and place on an ungreased cookie sheet. I usually place all four rolls on a half sheet pan. Cut each log into slices, cutting almost all of the way through, but do NOT separate the cookies. In this case, though, because I was prepping these for Christmas, I moved the sliced roll onto a separate baking sheet. I covered the other three rolls, uncut, and put them in the freezer. I will thaw and bake them the day before Christmas; a perfect little treat on Christmas Eve.
Finish these by baking the logs until lightly golden on the edges and remove to a wire rack to cool. Sprinkle confectioner’s sugar over top and separate each slice with a paring knife. Store in an airtight container. I purchased “non-melting” confectioner’s sugar once. Yes, Virginia, there is a real non-melting confectioner’s sugar. When I used it, it didn’t stay on the finished cookies as readily as the regular confectioner’s sugar. And the flavor was slightly different; I don’t think I will bother with it again. Now I just sift a bit more sugar on top if I want to refresh the snowy look before serving.
- 8 Ounces Cream Cheese, softened
- 1/2 Cup Butter, softened
- 2 Cups Flour
- 1 Cup Sugar
- 1/3 Cup Milk
- 1/2 Pound Walnuts, preferably toasted
- Powdered Sugar
Beat cream cheese and margarine until well blended. Add flour; mix well. Shape into ball; flatten into a thick rectangular shape. Wrap in waxed paper and chill 1 to 2 hours.
Place nuts on a foil lined pan and toast at 375-degrees until they are lightly browned; about 8-10 minutes. Cool, then pulse nuts in a food processor until finely chopped but not paste-like. Cook sugar and milk in saucepan over medium heat until milk boils and sugar dissolves; stir occasionally. Add nuts. Remove from heat; cool until spreadable.
Roll out dough on lightly floured surface to form an 18″ by 12″ rectangle. Cut in half lengthwise. Spread each half with nut filling. Starting from long side, roll up each strip, jelly-roll style. Cut rolls crosswise in half. Place, seam side down, on ungreased cookie sheets. Cut into slices, about 3/8″ thick, WITHOUT separating slices. Bake in preheated 350-degree oven 15 – 20 minutes or till lightly golden. Let cool slightly; remove and cool on racks.
Dust with powdered sugar. Separate slices and serve. Store in airtight container. Makes about 5 dozen cookies.