Go nuts! Buttery shortbread goodness… with a nutty twist!

A few years back when I lived in Cairo for my job, I found these wonderful walnut biscuits at the deli next to my house. They were so good, perfect for my morning coffee or an afternoon break and sometimes both, and reminded me of my childhood – a kind of comfort food. Growing up with a Scottish mother, shortbread was a bit of a staple, especially in the cold Canadian winters and at Christmas. These walnut biscuits or cookies were basically just shortbread with nuts baked in. I’m not sure how they made it to Cairo but they do like their nuts there as in many parts of North Africa and the Levant. Many traditional sweets feature nuts, especially almonds and walnuts. In any case, now in Sardinia with nuts making an appearance in the winter market, I found myself missing these biscuits with my morning coffee so I recently dug out my old family shortbread recipe and did a little experimenting. Pretty pleased with the results – rolled in coarse sugar, these sophisticated nut shortbread cookies are long on nutty, buttery flavour. But be warned! They are addictive and a family favourite so will disappear fast!

Servings: 24 cookies or more depending on how you roll the dough and cut the log

Prep Time: 15 Minutes

Cook Time: 20 Minutes

Total Time: 35 Minutes, plus 1 hour to chill the dough


  • 90 g chopped nuts – any: walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts, brazil nuts, pecans. Be a purist and pick one type or a mix!
  • 140 g unsalted butter, softened
  • 60 g confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • Scant ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 100 g all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 95 g almond flour
  • 1 egg yolk, beaten with 1 tsp of water
  • 50 g demerara or coarse raw cane sugar (Note: You’ll use less than this, but you need extra to roll the dough in.)
  • Optional: Spice it up with cinnamon, allspice, or pumpkin spice added to the flour! Just add 1/2 or 1 tsp


  • Preheat the oven to 175°C and set an oven rack in the middle position
  • Place the nuts on a baking sheet and toast for around five minutes, until fragrant. Cool on the baking sheet. (The nuts can be toasted and stored at room temperature.) I like to use a mix of chopped nuts but you can be a purist and pick one kind!
  • In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter, confectioners’ sugar, vanilla, and salt until smooth and lightened a bit, two to three minutes. You can also just use a hand mixer. Scrape the bowl with a spatula. Add the flour (with or without optional spice) and mix on low just until fully combined. Add the nuts and mix until evenly combined.
  • Turn the dough onto a clean countertop lightly dusted with flour. Dust the dough with a little flour. Shape and roll into a squared log between 1½ to 2 inches wide and 1½ to 2 inches high, dusting with more flour as necessary. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap or parchment paper and chill for at least one hour or overnight, until the dough has gotten very firm.
  • Preheat the oven to 175°C and set two oven racks in the centermost positions. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  • Lightly beat the egg yolk and ½ teaspoon of water in a small bowl and set aside. Pour the demerara sugar into a rimmed baking sheet or shallow casserole pan. Slice the chilled log in half to make it more manageable. Working with one log at a time, brush all sides of the log with the egg yolk mixture, then roll in the demerara sugar, pressing as necessary, until fully coated. If there are any areas of the log that are bare, sprinkle with the demerara sugar to cover.
  • Use a serrated knife to slice each log into about 12 individual cookies, each about ½-inch thick. Place the cookie slices onto the prepared baking sheets, leaving about 2 inches of space between each. Bake, rotating from top to bottom and front to back halfway through, until lightly golden, 18 to 20 minutes. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheets for a few minutes, then transfer to a rack to cool completely. The cookies will keep in a covered container at room temperature for up to a week.

NOTE: Freezer-Friendly Instructions – Let the cookies cool completely and store in an airtight container separating layers with parchment paper or aluminium foil. Before serving, remove the cookies from the container and let them come to room temperature. If you’d like to freeze the dough before baking, shape it into a squared log, then wrap it securely in plastic wrap and then a layer of foil; freeze for up to 3 months. When ready to bake, remove the log from the freezer, thaw it until pliable, and then proceed with recipe.

Mixed nut shortbread biscuit – comfort food to start your day with your coffee or as a pick me up with your afternoon cuppa!

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