Heirloom Italian Nut Rolls

Indulge in Tradition with Heirloom Italian Nut Rolls: A Timeless Delight

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Prepare to be transported to the heart of Italy with a recipe that’s been passed down through generations: Heirloom Italian Nut Rolls. These delectable treats are a celebration of tradition and flavor, combining a tender, buttery dough with a sweet and nutty filling. Whether enjoyed with a cup of coffee in the morning or as a dessert after dinner, these nut rolls are sure to become a cherished family favorite. So, let’s dive into the recipe and embark on a journey of culinary nostalgia!

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For the Dough:

  • 1 cup whole milk, warmed
  • 2¼ teaspoons active dry yeast (1 packet)
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 4½ cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting

For the Filling:

  • 2 cups ground walnuts
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 large egg white
  • 2 tablespoons whole milk

For brushing:

  • 1 large egg yolk beaten with 1 tablespoon water


  1. Activate the Yeast:
    • In a small bowl, combine the warm whole milk and active dry yeast. Let it sit for about 5-10 minutes, until frothy.
  2. Prepare the Dough:
    • In a large mixing bowl, combine the frothy yeast mixture with the granulated sugar, beaten eggs, melted butter, and salt. Mix well.
    • Gradually add the all-purpose flour, stirring until a soft dough forms.
    • Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead for about 5-7 minutes, until smooth and elastic.
  3. Let the Dough Rise:
    • Place the kneaded dough in a greased bowl, cover it with a clean kitchen towel, and let it rise in a warm, draft-free place for about 1-2 hours, or until doubled in size.
  4. Make the Filling:
    • In a medium bowl, combine the ground walnuts, granulated sugar, and ground cinnamon. Mix well.
    • In a separate small bowl, whisk together the egg white and whole milk.
  5. Roll Out the Dough:
    • Once the dough has doubled in size, punch it down and divide it into two equal portions.
    • On a floured surface, roll out each portion of dough into a rectangle, about ¼ inch thick.
  6. Fill and Roll:
    • Spread half of the walnut filling evenly over each rectangle of dough, leaving a small border around the edges.
    • Starting from one long side, tightly roll up each rectangle of dough into a log.
    • Pinch the seams and ends to seal.
  7. Shape the Rolls:
    • Place the rolled logs seam side down on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
    • Using a sharp knife, make diagonal slashes on the top of each roll, about 1 inch apart.
  8. Let Rise Again:
    • Cover the rolls loosely with a clean kitchen towel and let them rise for another 30-45 minutes, until slightly puffed.
  9. Preheat the Oven:
    • Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C).
  10. Brush with Egg Wash:
    • Once the rolls have risen, brush the tops with the prepared egg yolk mixture.
  11. Bake:
    • Transfer the baking sheet to the preheated oven and bake the nut rolls for 25-30 minutes, or until golden brown and fragrant.
  12. Cool and Serve:
    • Allow the nut rolls to cool slightly on the baking sheet before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely.
    • Once cooled, slice the rolls and serve. Enjoy the delicious flavors of these Heirloom Italian Nut Rolls!

Cook Notes and Variations:

  • Add Raisins or Dried Fruit: For added sweetness and texture, sprinkle raisins or chopped dried fruit over the walnut filling before rolling up the dough.
  • Swap Nuts: Feel free to use different nuts such as almonds, pecans, or hazelnuts for the filling, depending on your preference.
  • Glaze with Honey: For a shiny finish, brush the cooled nut rolls with warmed honey before serving.
  • Make Ahead: These nut rolls can be made ahead of time and stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days. They also freeze well for longer storage.

Keto and Low-Carb Versions:

  • Keto-Friendly: To make a keto-friendly version of these nut rolls, substitute almond flour for the all-purpose flour and use a keto-friendly sweetener such as erythritol or stevia in the filling. Brush the tops with a beaten egg instead of the egg yolk mixture for a shiny finish.
  • Low-Carb Option: For a lower-carb option, reduce the amount of sugar in the filling or use a sugar-free sweetener. You can also use a combination of almond flour and coconut flour for the dough to further reduce the carb content.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):

Q: Can I use instant yeast instead of active dry yeast? A: Yes, you can use instant yeast as a substitute for active dry yeast. However, you may need to adjust the rising time accordingly.

Q: Can I make these nut rolls ahead of time? A: Yes, you can prepare the dough and filling ahead of time, assemble the rolls, and refrigerate them overnight. Let them come to room temperature before baking.

Q: Can I freeze these nut rolls? A: Yes, these nut rolls freeze well. Once cooled, wrap them tightly in plastic wrap and aluminum foil, then place them in a freezer-safe bag or container. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator before serving.

Q: Can I use store-bought dough for this recipe? A: While homemade dough yields the best results, you can use store-bought refrigerated dough as a time-saving alternative. Just be sure to follow the package instructions for rolling and shaping.

Q: Can I make smaller rolls instead of two large ones? A: Yes, you can divide the dough into smaller portions and make individual-sized rolls if desired. Adjust the baking time accordingly.

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In conclusion, Heirloom Italian Nut Rolls are a labor of love that pays homage to the rich culinary heritage of Italy. With their tender dough, sweet walnut filling, and golden crust, these nut rolls are a testament to tradition and craftsmanship. Whether enjoyed as a breakfast treat, afternoon snack, or after-dinner delight, they are sure to evoke feelings of warmth and nostalgia with every bite. So, gather your ingredients, roll up your sleeves, and embark on a journey of flavor and tradition with these irresistible nut rolls. Buon appetito!

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