The Washington Post

Candied Sweet Potato and Toasted Walnut Cookies

Candied Sweet Potato and Toasted Walnut Cookies 27.000

Scott Suchman for The Washington Post; food styling by Lisa Cherkasky for The Washington Post

Holiday Cookies 2021 Dec 1, 2021

With a cinnamon icing and soft, slightly chewy texture, these drop cookies might remind you of spiced holiday sweet potatoes — the kind you usually taste candied, or in pie. Rather than blending pureed sweet potatoes into the dough, Nashville chef Charles Hunter III folds in honey-glazed sweet potato cubes, which look like little gems, making something altogether new taste nostalgic. Don't skip the chilling step, as it keeps the cookies from spreading too much.

Active time: 40 mins; Total time: 1 hour 25 mins

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this recipe included milk as an option in the glaze. Cream is crucial for the correct consistency and should have been the only option. This version has been updated, including the nutrition information.

Make Ahead: The dough can be portioned and refrigerated in an airtight container or bag for up to 2 weeks or frozen for up to 1 month. If freezing, place on a baking sheet to freeze completely before transferring to a container. The glazed sweet potatoes can be refrigerated for up to 1 week before you make the dough.

Storage Notes: The baked cookies can be stored in an airtight container for up to 3 days at room temperature, or frozen for up to 1 month.

27 cookies

When you scale a recipe, keep in mind that cooking times and temperatures, pan sizes and seasonings may be affected, so adjust accordingly. Also, amounts listed in the directions will not reflect the changes made to ingredient amounts.

Tested size: 27 cookies

  • For the sweet potatoes
  • 12 ounces (340 grams) sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch dice
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • For the cookies
  • 2 cups (240 grams) coarsely chopped walnuts, divided
  • 16 tablespoons (2 sticks/226 grams) unsalted butter, softened, plus more for greasing the pans
  • 3 cups (375 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea or table salt
  • 1 1/2 cups (330 grams) packed dark brown sugar
  • 2/3 cup (135 grams) granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
  • For the icing
  • 3/4 cup (95 grams) unsifted confectioners' sugar
  • 1/2 cup (120 milliliters) heavy cream
  • 4 teaspoons ground cinnamon, preferably Saigon
  • 2 teaspoons maple syrup, honey or light corn syrup


Make the sweet potatoes: In a medium nonstick skillet over medium heat, combine the sweet potatoes and olive oil. Cook, stirring frequently, until the sweet potatoes are tender but not mushy (you should still be able to identify each cube), 5 to 6 minutes. Stir in the honey and cook until the honey reduces and glazes the sweet potatoes, about 2 minutes. (Be careful not to let them brown, as they will burn quickly once that starts to happen.) Transfer to a plate and let cool completely. The sweet potato cubes should look like shiny little jewels.

Make the cookies: Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees.

Place the chopped walnuts on a rimmed baking sheet and toast for 8 to 10 minutes or until fragrantly nutty, shaking the pan halfway through. Transfer to a bowl or plate and let cool completely; turn off the oven. (Alternatively, you may toast the nuts on the stovetop in a dry skillet over low heat.)

Grease 3 large, rimmed baking sheets with butter (see NOTE).

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt until thoroughly combined.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or using a large bowl and a handheld mixer, combine the butter and brown and granulated sugars. Starting the mixer on low speed and gradually increasing to medium, beat just until smooth and slightly paler in color. (The mixture does not need to be light and fluffy.) Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl. Still on medium speed, add the eggs one at a time, ensuring each is completely incorporated before adding the next. Beat in the vanilla and almond extracts. Scrape down the bowl again. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the flour mixture 1/4 cup at a time, then add the glazed sweet potatoes and 1 cup (120 grams) of the toasted walnuts, mixing just until combined, to avoid overworking the dough. Give the dough one last stir by hand using a flexible spatula to ensure everything is incorporated.

Using a No. 20 disher or tablespoon measure, scoop out heaping 3-tablespoon portions of dough, each weighing around 60 grams (2 ounces), and form them into 1 1/2-inch balls. Arrange them on one of the baking sheets, positioning them tightly so they all fit, cover with parchment paper and refrigerate until firm, about 2 hours.

When ready to bake, position the rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 375 degrees. Transfer a third of the dough balls to one of the other two baking sheets, arranging them in 3 rows of 3, and return the remaining dough balls to the refrigerator. Bake for 12 to 14 minutes, or until the cookies are brown and firm on the edges but still give a little when pressed in the center. They should spread to about 3 3/4 to 4 inches in diameter. Immediately transfer the cookies to a cooling rack and press a few walnuts from the remaining 1 cup (120 grams) of nuts onto each cookie. Repeat with the remaining dough balls and baking sheets, baking one sheet at a time. Let the cookies cool completely.

Make the icing: In a medium bowl, whisk together the confectioners' sugar, cream, cinnamon and maple syrup until smooth with no visible lumps of sugar. Pour the icing into a piping bag, or use a zip-top plastic bag and cut a small hole at the corner. Drizzle the icing back and forth across the cookies to create a zigzag pattern, or make a spiral or other pattern of your choice. Serve, or allow the icing to harden for 15 to 20 minutes before serving.

NOTE: If you have two baking sheets, you can alternate them for baking, using one of the sheets to bake the first and third batches. Make sure the baking sheet has completely cooled before reusing.

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Recipe Source

Adapted from chef Charles Hunter III of the Salted Table blog and catering in Nashville.

Tested by Joe Yonan.

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Nutritional Facts

Calories per cookie: 285

% Daily Values*

Total Fat: 15g 23%

Saturated Fat: 6g 30%

Cholesterol: 38mg 13%

Sodium: 118mg 5%

Total Carbohydrates: 37g 12%

Dietary Fiber: 2g 8%

Sugar: 23g

Protein: 4g

*Percent Daily Value based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

Total Fat: Less than 65g

Saturated Fat: Less than 20g

Cholesterol: Less than 300mg

Sodium: Less than 2,400mg

Total Carbohydrates: 300g

Dietary Fiber: 25g

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