1 cup (8 oz., 2 sticks) unsalted butter*, soft
1/2 cup sifted confectioner’s sugar
1/4 tsp. Diamond kosher salt*
1 tsp. pure vanilla powder or extract (I used my homemade vanilla powder.)
2-1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, whisked first, then scooped and leveled
1/2 cup toasted walnuts
In work bowl of food processor, pulse butter, confectioner’s sugar, salt and vanilla till smooth. Add walnuts and pulse till almost finely chopped. (Walnuts will continue to be chopped with additions of flour.) Add flour, 1/2 cup at a time, pulsing till combined after each addition. Continue to pulse till dough comes together. Chill while preparing filling. (Dough may be refrigerated for up to 3 days before baking.)
When ready to bake, heat oven to 350F; set out baking pans lined with parchment. Shape chilled dough into balls, using a rounded teaspoonful of dough for each. Make a deep hole in center of each.
Fill each hole with about 1/4 tsp. of filling. Seal.
Place on baking sheets and bake 12-15 minutes until set but not brown. While warm, roll in reserved candy-sugar mixture. When cool, reroll in candy-sugar mixture. Yield: about 42 cookies
PEPPERMINT FUDGE FILLING:
1/2 cup finely crushed** candy canes or other peppermint hard candy
1 cup sifted confectioner’s sugar, divided
2 Tbsp. cream cheese or Neufchatel
1 tsp. milk or cream
1 drop red food coloring
Combine crushed candy and 1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar; reserve. In bowl of mini-food processor, combine cream cheese, milk, remaining 1/2 cup of confectioner’s sugar and 3 Tbsp. of reserved candy mixture; process till smooth. (If mixture is too dry add another tsp. of milk.)
*If you use salted butter, then omit the salt.
**Place candy in a freezer bag; seal; pound with the flat side of a meat mallet till candy is finely crushed.
Each time you make a ball, pinch off a small piece for sealing the top. After you fill the hole, take the small piece of dough and flatten it in your hands. Lay the flattened dough across the filled holes and gently press edges to seal.
1/2 cup of finely crushed peppermint candy = about 5 small candy canes