I grew up enjoying walnut crescent cookies that my Mom made every Christmas. There is just something about these buttery, tender bites subtly flavored with toasted ground nuts and then dusted with powdered sugar that screams Christmas to me. These are my Mom’s favorite cookies, but at ninety-four years old and living in an assisted living facility, she isn’t able to bake them anymore, so I bake them for her. My Mom always used walnuts in her cookies, and I continued this tradition until just a few years ago when I started trying out different nuts. I found hazelnuts too heavy, but almonds, especially toasted almond, are delicious in these cookies, and almonds are now my preferred nut for these cookies.
The trick to getting the most flavor from these cookies is to really toast the almonds until they are a rich golden brown. You do not want to burn the almonds because they then become bitter, but a light golden brown is just perfect. Also, let the toasted almonds cool completely before you grind them because when hot the almonds release oil which can make grinding them finely tricky. Blanched, skinned almonds are the type of almonds I use for these cookies although you could use slivered almonds instead if you have them on hand. Strangely enough, I ran around checking every grocery store in our area and couldn’t find blanched almonds anywhere, so I had to order them online.
The cookies themselves do not contain much sugar, so dusting them well with powdered sugar is essential. I dust them once while they are still warm, and then again once they cool completely. These cookies will keep up to a week stored in an airtight container in a cool place, and I find that they freeze well also.
Deborah Mele 2018
- 2 Sticks Unsalted Butter, Softened
- 6 Tablespoons Powdered Sugar
- 1 Teaspoon Almond Extract
- 2 Cups All-purpose Flour
- Pinch of Salt
- 1 Cup Blanched Almonds
- Powdered Sugar
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- To prepare the almonds, scatter them on a baking sheet and bake for about 15 minutes until golden brown.
- Let the almonds cool, then grind finely in a food processor.
- In a medium bowl, cream the butter with the sugar using an electric hand mixer until light and fluffy.
- Add the extract and blend.
- Add the flour, salt, and nuts, and mix at low speed until just mixed.
- Dump the mixture onto a lightly floured surface, and bead briefly to create a smooth dough.
- Break off pieces of dough and roll into 1 1/2 inch balls.
- Shape the balls into crescents and place on parchment lined baking sheets.
- Continue to finish the rest of the dough in the same manner.
- Bake for about 10 minutes or until the cookies just begin to brown.
- Cool until just barely warm, then gently roll in powdered sugar.
- Allow to cool completely, then roll in powdered sugar once more.
- Store in an airtight container until needed.