Tita Owre writes that her mother's apricot buttons were more than just a Christmas cookie — they were an essential part of every family celebration. Whirl the walnuts in a food processor until very finely ground, or chop very finely with a knife. The buttons are also great filled with raspberry jam.
About 1 cup (1/2 lb.) butter or margarine, at room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
2 large eggs, separated
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups finely ground walnuts (see note)
1/2 cup apricot jam
How to Make It
In a large bowl, with a mixer on medium speed, beat 1 cup butter and the sugar until smooth. Add egg yolks and vanilla and beat until well blended. Stir in flour and salt and beat just until dough comes together.
In a small bowl, beat egg whites to blend. Place walnuts in another small bowl. Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Dip each in egg whites, turning to coat completely, then roll in walnuts to coat. Place about 1 inch apart on buttered 12- by 15-inch baking sheets. Press your thumb gently into the center of each cookie to make an imprint.
Bake cookies in a 325° regular or convection oven until lightly browned, 18 to 20 minutes; if baking two sheets at once in one oven, switch their positions halfway through baking. Let cookies cool on sheets for 5 minutes, then use a wide spatula to transfer to racks to cool completely.
Spoon about 1/2 teaspoon jam into the center of each cool cookie.