Grandma’s Butter Horns (Brown Sugar Walnut Rugelach)
Today I have a very special recipe for you. One that makes me smile big time and gives me those warm and fuzzy feelings. Which are multiplied by a ton during the holiday season! All those twinkle lights and hot chocolate sipping and sitting by the fire. The best. Especially when paired with a big ol’ plate of these cookies right here.
So these “butter horns,” as they are known in our family, are coming at you straight from my grandma. I vividly remember her giving us plates of these cookies when we were kids. My dad would come home with a giant platter full of them and yet they always disappeared in a flash.
My sister, dad and I would pop them in the microwave to warm them up slightly, dust with even more confectioners’ sugar and then go to town. I don’t know where my mom was during all of this, probably eating something much healthier than a tray of buttery cookies (or maybe I just don’t remember her being there, eek! … sorry mom!).
Despite the fact that I will forever and ever call these butter horns, they are basically a slightly different version of rugelach (which is typically made with cream cheese instead of the sour cream you’ll see here).
But my guess is that rugelach will ring a bell for you better than butter horns!
I will confess that when I make these they are definitely imperfect – and look no where near as nice as the carefully rolled ones that my grandma always made. Apparently she had a lot more practice (and patience!) than I do.
But boy do they still taste good. So buttery and with just the right amount of sweetness. And extremely pop-able. Once you pop, you cannot stop with these cookies. Trust me, I have experience in this matter.
So tell me. What’s your favorite family recipe? My grandma passed away a few years ago, so these cookies most definitely hold a special place in my heart and are a necessity each holiday season!
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup unsalted butter, cold and cut into chunks
- 1 cup full-fat sour cream, cold
- 1 large egg yolk
- 2 cups raw walnuts, finely chopped
- ¾ cup packed light brown sugar
- confectioners’ sugar, for dusting
- Add the flour to a large bowl. Using a pastry cutter, two knives or your fingers, cut the butter into the flour, until it resembles even-sized crumbs. Add in the sour cream and egg yolk. Mix until the dough comes together in large clumps. Form the dough into three equal sized balls. Pat each into a disc and then wrap tightly with plastic wrap. Transfer to the refrigerator and let chill at least 2 hours or even overnight, until well chilled. You want it to be firm enough so that you can roll it out easily.
- Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
- In a medium bowl, mix together the walnuts and brown sugar until well combined, making sure to break up any clumps of brown sugar. Set aside.
- Working one ball of dough at a time (keep the other balls in the fridge while you do this), place the chilled dough on a well-floured work surface (I like to do this on well-floured parchment paper). Roll out into a circle that is between ⅛ and ¼ inch in thickness. Sprinkle ⅓ of the walnut / sugar mixture evenly over the dough (all the way to the edges) then press down lightly into the dough. With a pastry or pizza cutter, slice the dough like you would a pizza, into 16 equal triangles. Starting with the wide end, roll up each triangle - some of the filling will fall out - that’s totally fine. Place the shaped cookies on the prepared baking sheet, with the seam side / tip down. Repeat this process with the remaining two balls of dough.
- Bake for about 22 to 24 minutes, until golden brown. Let cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. If baking in batches, keep any unbaked, shaped cookies in the refrigerator.
- Once completely cool, dust generously with confectioners’ sugar.
The dough portion of this recipe could also be done in a food processor, I just wanted to make them by hand like my grandma. It felt right that way! :)
I also highly recommend eating these warm - so good!! We used to love to pop them in the microwave for a few seconds to get them nice and toasty! And maybe dust again with more confectioners’ sugar after you warm them up...
My wonderful grandma