(Family Features) Over time, many families tend to return to the same holiday favorites, from ham and mashed potatoes to pies and cookie classics. This season, you can add a twist to tradition with these globally inspired desserts.

Rugelach, for instance, is like a cross between a croissant and a cookie featuring walnuts for a nutty flavor and crunch with ties to Greece, Turkey and the Middle East. If you’re looking to steal the show at cookie exchanges, Mexican Wedding Cookies provide a crumbly, melt-in-your-mouth texture perfect for dipping in hot chocolate.

Both treats include California walnuts, which have an agricultural history deeply rooted in tradition and can stand alone as a tasty snack or offer an opportunity to level up dishes from appetizers to desserts.

Find more holiday dessert ideas at walnuts.org/holiday.

Rugelach

Recipe courtesy of California Walnuts

Prep time: 50 minutes

Cook time: 20 minutes

Servings: 32

Dough:

  • 1/2       cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 4          ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1          tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1          teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2       teaspoon salt
  • 1          cup flour

Filling:

  • 1/3       cup granulated sugar
  • 1          tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2       cup apricot jam
  • 1          cup finely chopped California walnuts
  • 1/2       cup raisins, chopped
  • 2          tablespoons unsalted butter melted
  1. To make dough: In large bowl, using electric mixer on medium speed, beat butter, cream cheese, sugar, vanilla and salt until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.
  2. Scrape sides of bowl and beaters as necessary. Reduce speed and slowly mix in flour, about 30 seconds.
  3. On floured work surface, form dough into ball. Divide into two equal pieces.
  4. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and press into two disks. Refrigerate 30 minutes, or until firm.
  5. To make filling: Heat oven to 375° F and place racks at upper-middle and lower-middle positions.
  6. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  7. In small bowl, combine sugar and cinnamon; mix well and set aside.
  8. On lightly floured surface, roll out each piece of dough into 11-inch circles, about 1/4-inch thick. On each round, spread 1/4 cup jam and sprinkle 1/2 cup walnuts and 1/4 cup raisins. Evenly sprinkle 1 tablespoon cinnamon-sugar mixture on each disk.
  9. Using knife, cut each round into 16 even wedges. Beginning at wide ends, roll each wedge up into cookie.
  10. Place cookies on prepared baking sheet with pointed end underneath cookie. Space cookies about 2 inches apart.
  11. Using pastry brush, brush melted butter over cookies; sprinkle remaining cinnamon-sugar over top.
  12. Bake cookies about 20 minutes until slightly puffed and pale gold, rotating baking sheets halfway through.
  13. Transfer hot cookies to wire rack and allow to cool completely before serving.

Mexican Wedding Cookies

Recipe courtesy of California Walnuts

Prep time: 20 minutes

Cook time: 38 minutes

Servings: 36

  • 2          cups California walnuts, toasted, divided
  • 2          cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4       teaspoon salt
  • 1          cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/3       cup granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2    teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2    cups powdered sugar, plus additional (optional)
  1. Heat oven to 325° F. Adjust oven racks to upper-middle and lower-middle positions. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone mats.
  2. In food processor, finely grind 1 cup walnuts, about 10-15 seconds. Transfer to medium bowl.
  3. In food processor, pulse remaining walnuts about 5 seconds. Add to medium bowl with finely ground walnuts. Stir in flour and salt; set aside.
  4. In electric mixer bowl, combine butter and granulated sugar. Beat 2 minutes, or until fluffy. Scrape sides of bowl. Add vanilla; beat 1 minute. Add flour and walnut mixture; beat 30 seconds, or until combined. Scrape down sides of bowl and beaters; continue hand-mixing dough until well combined.
  5. Working with 1 tablespoon dough at a time, roll into 1 1/4-inch balls and arrange 1 inch apart on prepared baking sheets. Bake until cookies are lightly golden brown, about 18 minutes, rotating baking sheets halfway through.
  6. Remove cookies from oven and cool on baking sheets 10 minutes. Transfer to wire rack; cool completely. Roll cookies in powdered sugar.
  7. Before serving, re-roll cookies in powdered sugar, if desired. Gently shake to remove excess.

SOURCE:
California Walnuts