Thursday, December 2, 2010

Holiday Crescent Cookies

I was first introduced to these cookies as a child when we'd visit relatives on Christmas Eve every year. These powdery delights were my favorite, and when I got old enough to be interested, I asked my aunt for the recipe. I was crushed when I found out they were bakery cookies, but eventually I found a recipe that was similar.

Then I found a lot of recipes, with a lot of names. These could be Mexican Wedding Cookies or they could be Snowballs, but when the winter holidays roll around, these become Crescent Cookies at my house.

It's easier to make a round ball and be done with it, but the familiar crescent shape reminds me of those long-ago holidays when the most pressing question was whether Santa made it to our house while we were out, or if he was working the late shift and would be stopping by after we were all asleep.

One trick to these cookies is rolling them in the powdered sugar at just the right time. If you do it when the cookies are warm, the sugar will melt and it will be a mess. Wait until the cookies are stone cold, and the sugar won't stick nearly as well. And we all know that the powdered sugar clinging to them is a critical part of the fun as it sprinkles down when you eat them.

Walnuts or pecans are my favorites in these cookies, but you could use any nut you like. Chop them finely, but don't let them turn completely into dust - you want some small bits and pieces in these cookies.

Holiday Crescent Cookies

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

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 degrees 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 them 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 degrees 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.


Anonymous said...

we always had these for christmas also - but they were handmade by an old family friend. however, her recipe which has now been lost called for melted butter rather than soft. so i was wondering if in your searching you came across any recipes that used melted butter? thanks.

Donna Currie said...

Wow, that's interesting. Melted butter would create a whole different texture. If it was warm, it might even melt the sugar. I've never run across a recipe like that, but I'd bet that she simply took one of the existing billion variations and one day melted the butter by accident and like the way it worked and just kept doing that. I'm thinking it might be a little too wet, so she might have then added a bit more flour. It's an interesting idea. I'll play around with that and see if I can make it work. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

I bake mine with hazelnuts. They are a staple since my childhood.

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