A few weeks ago when I was staying at my parents house in Germany I browsed through my mum’s cooking folder where she keeps all her handwritten recipes. I was looking for childhood memories and actually found an unexpected page. It was my own hand writing as I was around 10 years old with round letters and ink which was about to change from purple to blue or vice versa (we changed the ink color in our fountain pens nearly every day, our teachers used to complain about getting eye diseases). I remembered the recipe although I haven’t thought about it since years. Julia one of my best friends gave it to me, it was the traditional Christmas recipe of her family but I think it is also nice to have in fall. I must have lost mine recipe but my mum luckily kept hers which I copied so many years ago.
The baking sheet I used is a 10 x 14 inch (about 35 x 25 cm) The walnut bars will become too thin if your baking sheet is much bigger. You can double the recipe or you can help you out with folding aluminum foil several times and make a wall of it.
I just changed white sugar into brown sugar and used whole wheat pastry flour instead of all purpose flour, feel free to use what you have on hand.
The icing calls for distilled liquors which can be replaced with water
230 g / 2 sticks butter at room temperature
200 g / 1 1/3 cups brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 pinch sea salt
200 g / 2 cups whole walnuts
250 g / 2 cups whole wheat pastry flour or all purpose flour
3 teaspoons baking powder (aluminum-free)
for the icing:
250 g / 2 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
2 teaspoons instant coffee
3 tablespoons rum, brandy, whiskey…
2-3 tablespoons water
about 20 walnut halves for decoration
Preheat your oven to 190 C / 380 F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Put the walnuts on the baking sheet and roast them for 7-8 minutes. Keep an eye on them until they are done to prevent them from getting burned. Save the parchment paper. Increase the oven temperature to 200 C / 400 F.
Let slightly cool and grind them in a food processor until fine but be careful not to over-process them or you will end up with butter.
Mix the butter, eggs, vanilla extract and sugar. In an other bowl add dry ingredients: ground walnuts, salt, flour, baking powder. Stir and pour into the eggs mixture, stir until combined, be careful not to over mix.
Spread the batter over the baking sheet and bake 15-20 minutes.
Meanwhile mix everything for the icing until lump-free. Start with two tablespoons of water and add the third only if necessary.
Spread the icing over the hot cake and place the walnut halves so that there will be one in the middle of every bar. Immediately cut into bars and let cool.