My mother's family migrated to the U.S. from Hungary in the late 1800s. They were part of a wave of Jewish immigrants who passed through Ellis Island and made a new life for themselves in New York. Aunt Fanny, my great grandmother's sister, would bake these cookies and her recipe has been carefully passed down generation to generation. I still remember the smell of cinnamon in our kitchen and my mom rolling out the dough and chopping the walnuts. It always meant Christmas day was getting close because either my mom or one of my aunts would bring the cookies to our big Christmas Eve family gathering. Why are Hungarian Jews celebrating Christmas and not Hanukkah? Love. My grandfather became a Catholic to marry my grandmother. That may have changed but Aunt Fanny's cookies have survived.
RECIPE: Aunt Fanny's Nut Cookies
Yields 3 dozen cookies
3 cups sifted flour
3 tablespoons sugar
pinch of salt
2 sticks (8 ounces) soft butter
3 egg yolks, beaten
3 ounces of milk
1 cup finely chopped walnuts
1 cup castor sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
a little cream
Mix flour, sugar, salt, butter, eggs and milk. Beat well to mix. Form the dough into a ball, wrap in plastic wrap and chill for at least 2 hours.
Mix walnuts, castor sugar, cinnamon and enough cream to make a spread. Roll the dough on a floured board to a thickness of 3 cm. Spread the walnut mixture on the dough and roll tightly.
Cut into 2 inch slices and place on a buttered cookie sheet. Bake in a 190-degree oven for about 10 minutes or until brown. Store in an airtight container.