Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Crescent Cookies

Every Christmas Eve, crescent cookies were part of my aunt's massive dessert extravaganza. I loved those cookies. They never appeared any other time of the year, or any other place.

When I got interested in such things, I asked my aunt for the recipe so I could make the cookies myself. I was heartbroken to find out that she bought the cookies at a nearby bakery.

Fast forward a few years, I found out that crescent cookies were pretty common and, in fact, a very similar recipe existed for something called Mexican Wedding Cookies. And then I realized that you could use just about any nut you like in the recipe.

While these taste the same no matter what shape you make them, the crescent shape reminds me of those long-ago Christmas Eves. And, if there were cookies left over, sometimes we got cookies to take home for the next day.

The most common nuts I see in these types of cookies are walnuts or pecans. Although I've seen pistachios as well. I decided to use a nut that I didn't know about when I was a kid - in fact, I was only introduced to them recently - Marcona almonds.

Crescent Cookies
by Donna

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup finely chopped Marcona almonds
Powdered sugar for sprinkling

Cream the butter and sugar. Add the vanilla and beat in. Add the flour and nuts and blend well.

Gather the dough and wrap it in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight.

When you're ready to bake, preheat the oven to 325°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Break off small balls of dough - about a Tablespoon or so - and form them into crescent shapes. Note: When the dough is right out of the refrigerator, it might be a bit too firm to form. It's fine to let it sit out for a short while to warm up.

Place the formed cookies on the baking sheet, leaving space between them. When you've used up all the dough (or the sheet is full) bake at 325°F for 20 minutes. The cookies will be lightly browned on the bottom and the edges, but otherwise still very pale.

Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for a minute or two to firm up (they're crumbly while warm) then transfer to a rack to cool. Sprinkle with powdered sugar.

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