Buttery, melt in your mouth almond flavored crescent shaped cookies rolled in powdered sugar.
This cookie always has a spot on any Christmas cookie platter and for good reason. Not only is the half-moon shape eye catching, but this thick shortbread type of cookie is perfect with a cup of coffee, tea, or milk.
Most people don’t know the history of this traditional Christmas cookie. These little crescent shaped cookies are also known as vanillekipferl and were created in Vienna in Austria. The classic crescent shape was created to mimic the Turkish crescent moon. It is said they symbolize the celebration of the victory over the Turkish in 1683. In addition, many other regions have adapted these cookies to their culture. They are also called Swedish Heirloom Cookies, and they are also celebrated in Germany.
How to Make Almond Crescent Cookies
- Cream butter and sugars together.
- Beat in vanilla, almond extract, and salt.
- Gradually mix in flour.
- Mix in ground almonds.
- Chill dough slightly.
- Roll one tablespoon of cookie dough into a crescent shape.
- Bake in 325°F oven for 20 minutes.
- Cool cookies completely.
- Coat in powdered sugar.
Variations for Crescent Cookies
Nuts: I make these cookies with almonds, but pecans, pistachios, walnuts, hazelnuts or no nuts are all great options to consider.
Flavors: Add some lemon, orange, or lime zest to the dough. A little goes a long way. In addition, flavored extracts such as raspberry, strawberry, peppermint, mint, maple, anise, coconut, lemon, cherry, cream cheese, or any other flavorful extra you can get your hands on can instantly change the flavor of these cookies. Make a single or double batch and split up the dough and experiment with different extract flavors in each dough.
Icing: Top with a drizzle of white chocolate, or semi-sweet chocolate. Dunk one end in melted chocolate and top with festive sprinkles and the other end in powdered sugar or icing made with powdered sugar and water. These cookies can also be frosted with buttercream.
Candy: Use mini chocolate chips, mint chocolate chips, Christmas or holiday sprinkles, peppermint bark, or other baking candies in place of nuts.
Coloring: Use any food coloring or color gel to change the look of these crescent cookies. Green, red, yellow, or white during the holidays.
Ingredients in Crescent Cookies
Butter: Use a good quality butter to make the cookies. The butter should be at room temperature. A slight indent into the butter is the right temperature at room temperature. It’s too soft if an indent leaves a larger imprint in the butter.
Sugar: I like to use both powdered sugar and granulated sugar in the cookies. The powdered sugar melts into the butter perfectly, while the granulated sugar adds additional sweetness. Traditionally, crescent cookies are coated or rolled in powdered sugar. I like to double coat my cookies. They appear much cleaner in appearance. If your powdered sugar is lumpy, be sure to sift it first. This will make a huge difference in the topping. Other takes on this cookie include no coating, one coating, or making an icing using powdered sugar and water.
Flavor: Vanilla extract is the perfect compliment to these cookies. I like to use Mexican vanilla extract in these cookies because it really adds a delicate vanilla flavor to the dessert dough. While freshly ground almonds add plenty of almond flavor, I like to use almond extract to give it an extra concentrated flavor profile kick.
Almonds: I buy sliced almonds or slivered almonds and grind them in my small food processor. I prefer them finely ground. Pecans, walnuts or no nuts may be substituted for almonds. Using no nuts will result in less cookie servings. This recipe uses two cups sliced almonds which yields roughly 1 cup ground almonds. Use as much or as little as preferred. The nuts may need to be worked into the dough. To incorporate the nuts fully, I sort of mush the dough into the nuts leftover on the bottom on the mixer bowl then flip the dough, knead it, and push the remaining nuts into the dough. Do this until they are all incorporated.
Flour: All-purpose flour works well in this recipe. I have not tested using almond flour in place of or in combination with all-purpose flour.
Tips and Reader Questions for Almond Crescent Cookies
Don’t over mix the dough. If you start out in a blender, finish mixing by hand once you get a crumbly texture. The dough will be thick. Mixing from start to finish in the blender can make the dough dry and tough.
Chill the dough. One of the best tips for making this cookie is to chill the dough before shaping it into crescent shape. This keeps the dough from spreading during baking and helps retain the crescent shape. Once the dough is done mixing, it may be too soft to shape into crescents. Chilling the dough for 30 minutes to one hour seems to work the best.
Uses a food processor to achieve ground nuts. Do not grind into a powder, but do grind them into small pieces or finely ground. You can also chop them or place the almonds in a plastic bag and crush them with a rolling pin.
Divide dough into tablespoon size balls before refrigerating. Doing so can make it more manageable.
Making a smooth crescent shape. Since the cookie dough is very thick with butter being the only wet ingredient, the cookie cookie is very delicate. After the dough comes out of the refrigerator, I like to scoop out 1 tablespoon cookie dough with a metal scoop and roll and soft of soften the dough the dough between my hands. Roll the dough into a smooth ball then roll it into a log, much like the shape of a sausage link. Bend the ends slightly into a half moon shape. Use fingers to smooth and bind together any splitting.
Don’t let these cookies brown all the way. They are meant to be a pale color with only the bottoms a golden brown color.
Waiting for the cookies to cool. Do wait for the cookies to cool at least slightly before before coating them in powdered sugar. If they are warm, the powdered sugar coating will melt into the cookies. This is where I like to do a second coat after they have cooled.
Storing the cookies: Store in an airtight container or ziplock bag. The cookies will keep for several weeks.
How can I freeze these cookies? The cookies can be frozen a few ways. First, the cookie dough can be made ahead of time and stored in the freezer for several months until it’s ready to use. Simply move it to the refrigerator a day or two in advance to defrost the dough. I like to also set it on the countertop 30 minutes prior to making them. Another option is to freeze the cookies once they are out of the oven and chilled. Typically, I like to dust them in powdered sugar when I’m ready to serve them, however, they can be stored in the freezer even after coating.
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- 15 Christmas Cookie Recipes
Almond Crescent Cookies
- 1 cup unsalted butter room temperature (2 sticks)
- ½ cup powdered sugar
- ⅓ cup granulated sugar
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- ½ tsp almond extract optional
- 2¼ cup all-purpose flour
- 1 cup finely ground almonds about 2 cups sliced almonds
- 1½ cups powdered sugar for dusting
- Preheat oven to 325°F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Cream butter, granulated sugar, and powdered sugar until light and fluffy; about 5-7 minutes.
- Beat in vanilla extract, almond extract, and salt.
- Gradually mix in flour just until combined. Wipe down the sides of the bowl with a spatula and incorporate again.
- Mix in ground almonds until combined.
- Scrape down the sides and the bottom of the mixing bowl with a spatula. If almonds at the bottom are not mixed in, smush them into the dough until they stick. Turn the mixer on and mix once more until combined.
- Chill dough in refrigerator for 30 minutes.
- Scoop 1 tablespoon of dough. Roll into a smooth ball. Roll dough into a 4-inch log between the hands. Bend the dough into a crescent shape.
- Space 1½-inches apart on prepared cookie sheet.
- Bake in oven for 18-20 minutes.
- Allow cookies to cool slightly. Transfer to a cooling rack.
- For best results, sift 1½ cups powdered sugar into a bowl.
- Once cookies are completely cool, dunk cookies in powdered sugar and cover completely. Tip: I repeat this step twice.
Nutritional information is only an estimate and it’s accuracy is not guaranteed to be exact.
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