Fall treats: Nuts in the recipe

As I looked through my vintage recipes and cookbooks, I felt a calling from the “nut cookie” category.

There are those who have definite opinions on whether to add nuts or not in desserts and many with nut tree allergies, so I’ve tended to ignore recipes with nuts for a while. Not this time! The craving for a crunchy, tasty nut overpowered all. An impressive number of nut desserts emerged but I finally decided on three: Mama’s Party Cupcakes, Hello Dolly Cookies and brownie-like Chiffon Nut Bars. Enjoy!

Mama’s Party Cupcakes, an award winning county fair recipe shared from my sister’s recipe file. 2001


  • 1-3 oz. package cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 cup flour
  • ½ cup butter

Mix above together. Roll into balls the size of a small walnut. Mold each ball to cover bottom and up the sides of small (2 inch) muffin pan. Not necessary to grease the cups.


  • 1 egg
  • 1 Tablespoon melted butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • ¾ cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup chopped nuts: pecans, walnuts or almonds

Mix all this together and fill each muffin cup to ¾ full.* Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 25-30 minutes. Do not overcook. Cool for 10 minutes on a rack. Turn upside to release from pan.

Makes about 2 dozen. For best results, use real butter, vanilla.

*Note: Optional: Top each cupcake with half a maraschino cherry. If you grind the nuts to make a lighter filling, the cherry on top will have to be placed on top after the pastries have baked for 10 minutes, or more, so the cherry does not sink to the bottom.

Lately I’ve been experiencing food cravings for sweetness and nuts. The combination of sweet raisins with crunchy walnuts sent me back to my growing up days when we cracked walnuts shells with hammers in the garage and separated out the nutmeats from the shells. The nut pieces were added to cookies and breads…sprinkled on cakes too. Yum. A favorite evening snack with raisins fresh from the Merlo family ranch, right up there with popcorn treats.

During my nut recipe hunting, I found this recipe for Hello Dolly Cookies, a chewy, decadent bar-like cookie. I have no idea where the name originated. Hello Dolly, a popular Broadway play, opened in 1964. From there all is a mystery.

The following recipe for Hello Dolly Cookies caught my eye because it calls for vanilla wafer crumbs instead of the traditional graham cracker crumbs for the crust.

Substitutions allowed! Try toffee bits instead of nuts. Butterscotch morsels work too.

dsc_5593Hello Dolly Cookies: Also known as Seven Layer Bars and Magic Cookie Bars.
Favorite Easter Star Recipes, Olde Family Favorites, 1965. Recipe of Miss Longstaff from Scammon, Kansas

  • ½ cup margarine or butter
  • 2 cups vanilla wafer crumbs
  • 1 cup chocolate pieces
  • 1 cup chopped nuts
  • 1 cup coconut
  • 1 can condensed milk

Melt butter in 11” x 7” baking dish; layer wafer crumbs, chocolate pieces, nuts and coconut over the margarine. Drizzle condensed milk over all. Bake at 350 degrees (325 for glass pans) for 30 minutes. Let cool completely before cutting. Try putting the pan in the refrigerator until cold for easier cutting. Store in an airtight container for 3 days or keep in the refrigerator.

Nuts are high in nutritional value and make excellent snacks, Walnuts, Brazil nuts, cashews, hazelnuts, almonds, macadamia nuts, pecans, pine nuts, and pistachios belong to the tree nut family. Can’t forget peanuts which are actually a legume but it’s not necessary to cross over to the technical side of nuts.

Chiffon Nut bars: The recipe on this card is labeled G. W. 1978. A notation on the card also says “came from Elinor, 1952”. This old-fashion blond brownie is chewy and moist. For a chocolate twist, sprinkle a layer of chocolate chips on top while the bars are cooling. With a butter knife, spread the melted chocolate evenly over the surface before completely cooled.

  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup oil
  • ½ cup sifted flour
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup walnuts

Beat eggs until thick and lemon colored. Add sugar, beating after each addition. Stir in salt, oil and vanilla. Fold in flour and nuts. Stir just until blended. Pour into greased and floured 8” x 8” pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes.

For double recipe use 9” x 13” pan. Bake five minutes longer.
This recipe calls for walnuts which isn’t surprising because the recipe came from a California recipe box. Pecans, almonds or peanuts are easily substituted.

Kitchen Hints:
Substitute cereal for nuts in cookies. Unsweetened varieties such as puffed rice and puffed wheat, are the best choices, from Today’s All-Purpose Cookbook, 1983 or toast uncooked oatmeal and use in making cookies. Gives a nutty flavor, from Cooking at the Y, 1973-74, Laurel, Mississippi

Nuts in the shell crack more easily when frozen and can be used directly from the freezer. Nuts and seed, shelled or unshelled, keep best and longest when stored in the freezer, from Feasting with St. Francis, 1985

Something to think about: Stuck together glasses will come apart if you put cold water in the top one and put the bottom one in hot water, from Feasting with St. Francis, 1985