Cream Cheese Nut Horns

I’ve been told that this recipe originally came from Mary Ann’s grandma sometime around 1946. These cookies have been at the Christmas table since before I was even born. I first remember my Grandma Stella making them on her kitchen table. Then I remember helping my mom (Fran) make them when I was little. Then a few years ago I decided that the tradition must live on for another generation, and if anyone was going to do it, it was going to have to be me. So, I rolled up my sleeves, bought all the ingredients, and then kinda panicked. Ha! I mean, these were THE nut horn cookies. If there is any legacy to this family, it is these cookies. So what’s a girl to do? Call grandma of course! She gave me some good words of wisdom, clarified a few of the recipe points, and in the way only a grandma can do, instilled in me a sense of confidence that not only could I make these cookies, but that they would be great. Aren’t grandmas wonderful?

My first attempt was ok, but I had made three very common rookie mistakes. First, I didn’t roll the balls small enough. Second, I didn’t roll them out thinly enough. And third, I didn’t grind the nuts finely enough. So… they were ok. Grandma however was very proud of me. Aren’t grandmas wonderful?

I’ve been making these by myself for the past few years. My technique is better, and I’m getting quicker. But the best part is, they still make grandma proud of me.

Cream Cheese Nut Horns


  • 1 lb cream cheese
  • 4 C flour
  • 1 lb sweet cream butter - using anything less would be a desecration
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • Powdered sugar
  • 3 C or about 1.5 lb ground walnuts (it's very important to grind them as finely as you can, otherwise the mixture tears the dough when you spread the filling)
  • 3/4 C sugar
  • 3/4 C milk


Mix dough ingredients using a stand mixer. You may want to do this in two batches. Finish with your hands if necessary. Roll into small balls about the size of a small cherry or marble. Remember to keep them small! Don't be a rookie! Keep all the balls in a bowl, cover, and refrigerate overnight. I've refrigerated them for just a few hours and it worked well also.
Mix all filling ingredients to make a paste. You can make this a day ahead as well, but to facilitate spreading, it should be room temperature when you actually make the cookies. When you're ready to start the process, remove about six balls at a time from the fridge. Roll each ball in powdered sugar and flatten with the palm of your hand. Roll them out very, very thinly on a powdered sugar covered board. Spread out a very thin, almost transparent layer of nut filling and roll them into a log. Remember, you are going for delicate here, not chunky and thick. Bend to form a crescent shape.

Place the cookies on an ungreased cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees for about 15-20 minutes until golden brown. Remove to a cooling rack and sprinkle with powdered sugar before serving.

These cookies are amazing. They are delicate and tender, not too sweet, and have that “can’t stop at just one” quality to them. They ship and freeze beautifully. The recipe makes A LOT of cookies (upwards of 12 – 14 dozen). so feel free to cut it in half, or in quarter. We’ve never cut it though, because they’re just that good.

NOTE: This post was written by Fran’s daughter, Allison Donel. She first posted it on 37 Cooks, a blog to which she contributes. In fairness, she started before her mom and Mary Ann and, she is family, so I guess she is forgiven.

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