In addition to celebrating with a beautiful Haft-Sin (a tabletop display featuring symbolic items including aromatic Hyacinth representing the new season and coins for prosperity to name a few), gobs and gobs of drool-worthy food (we’re talking kabobs, salmon, stews/khoresht, mountains of dill and saffron rice with a crispy bottom/tahdig, salad, sabzi/fresh herbs, and maybe some tri-tip for this good ‘ol Santa Maria-style gal), there comes dessert.
Lucky for me, there are many Nowruz sweets that are naturally gluten free. Some of these traditional desserts include chickpea flour cookies with a hint of rose water (Nan-e nokhodchi), rice flour cookies with poppy seeds (Nan-e berenji), and of course cardamom spiced walnut cookies (Nan-e Gerdui).
This simple recipe for Persian walnut cookies took a bit of perfecting, but the naturally chewy texture from the nuts and floral notes from the orange blossom water will keep you coming back for seconds and thirds, even after you make it though your 10 course dinner. By the way, here is a sneak at my plate before I went all Kirby on it.
Believe it or not there is still ALWAYS room for dessert after these celebratory meals, and the light, chewy walnut cookies pair perfectly with a warm cup of Persian tea.
These cookies do not typically contain almond flour; however, I found they had the best texture and flavor with a combo of both. Although if you do not have any almond flour on hand, you can omit and still end up with a delectable treat.
The orange blossom water gave the recipe a fun, fresh twist from the traditional rose water. You can find orange blossom water at any kind of international or Middle Eastern market, and it can be stored forever so you can experiment with this fun flavor in many of your future recipes. It is very floral on the nose and the flavor reminds me a bit of Fruity Pebbles. I like to use Cortas Orange Blossom Water. If you can’t find any, feel free to substitute with an additional 1/2 teaspoon of orange zest.
The texture, and even flavor notes, of these cookies will change dramatically overnight so if you are a fan of a crispier cookie that shouts, “Hey, I’m made of walnuts,” bake these up and serve immediately. For the soft, chewier texture with more pronounced spice notes, let your baked cookies rest on the counter overnight. The oils from the walnuts will release and loosen up the structure of the cookie making it bendier and giving it a delicate texture.
The dough will spread pretty significantly in the oven, so you should only use a small teaspoonful of dough for each cookie. This will result in a cookie about 2 1/2-3″ in diameter. Perfect for snacking.
Keep an eye on your cookies as they baking because they have a tendency to go from perfectly golden to burnt in a matter of seconds. You will know they are ready when they have spread and are puffed with just a hint of gold showing along the edges.
Be sure to use parchment as this will help keep the browning on the bottom of the cookie even and help them spread the right amount as they bake. I found 8 minutes at 350 degrees F was perfect, but don’t be afraid to test a few cookies first so you can see how your oven bakes.
Enjoy these little guys with a glass of black (or decaf) Persian tea to close out your evening and officially welcome the new year!
Persian Walnut Cookies
Celebrate Persian New Year or Nowruz with this simple recipe for Persian walnut cookies. Delicately spiced with cardamom, floral notes from orange blossom water, and a bit of zing from orange zest, these bite-sized treats will delight your guests.
- 1 cup walnuts, finely ground (110 grams)
- 1 tablespoon almond flour (6 grams)
- 1/4 cup, plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar (74 grams)
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
- 2 egg yolks (36 grams)
- 1 and 1/4 teaspoon orange blossom water
- 1/4 teaspoon orange zest
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In the bowl of a food processor, pulse walnuts until finely ground, about 10 pulses. The walnuts should look like coarse sand and just begin to stick to the sides of the bowl.
Once the walnut are ground, measure out one cup or weigh out 110 grams of ground walnuts using a kitchen scale. Add the ground walnuts to a medium bowl. Add all remaining ingredients and mix until well combine. It will become a thick, textured paste.
Scoop a teaspoon of dough and roll into a ball. Evenly space 12 cookies per sheet and bake for 8 minutes until puffed and just slightly golden around the edges. The centers may look underbaked but will set as they cool.
Let cookies cool on sheet on cooling rack until set. Once set, allow cookies to cool completely directly on rack. For crispier, walnut-forward cookies, serve immediately. For a tender, chewy texture, let cookies rest overnight at room temperature. Cookies are best eaten in 3 days.
Looking for more great desserts for your Persian New Years celebration, check out my recipe for Persian Nougat (Gaz)!