Almond crescents

With the little one hankering for more of those Italian almond star cookies, I thought I'd give another type of almond cookie a try.  I'd never made almond crescents until now.
The cookie dough is super simple to make.  In fact, the recipe I started with seemed almost too easy.  It called for 4 ingredients - ground almonds, butter, flour, and some sugar - that you simply mixed together.  So I tinkered a bit, adding a pinch of salt, and some vanilla and almond extracts.  I also decided to add a little lemon zest to subtly brighten up the flavors.  In the spirit of embellishment for the holiday season, I dipped half the crescents in chocolate ganache.
Without any eggs in the recipe, I expected a challenge in shaping the cookies into their crescent shapes.  It did turn out to be a little tricky but do-able and not an issue if you're not overly concerned about some cracks at the bends. A great big dusting of powdered sugar would distract you from that imperfection if it's a concern.  The most important thing is they turned out really tasty!  I'm not sure why I was kind of surprised by how much I liked them.  
The texture is nice and sandy.  Around the holidays, I embrace these buttery, crispy, sandy-textured cookies and welcome them as cookies I don't eat often enough. They are excellent with a cup of tea or with your mug of hot chocolate.  
My son might not have devoured these crescents quite as greedily as he did the almond stars but they were still very appreciated.  I really enjoyed the ground almond texture and flavor, with the hint of lemon.  I am very thankful for the holidays for the gift of Christmas cookie variety!


As you can see from the recipe that follows, this cookie dough is very easily put together.  If you use almond meal like I did, it saves the step of grinding almonds yourself.  Once the dough is mixed together, cover it and let it sit at room temperature for a couple of hours. 
When it comes to shaping the cookies into their crescent shapes, I grabbed a ball of dough and rolled it and pressed it a bit in my palm to warm it up and smooth it out. Then I rolled it into about a 3-inch or so long log.  Bend it and give the ends a little pinch to mimic a crescent shape.  At least, that's my interpretation of it!
There will be cracks along the bend of some of the cookies.  I didn't want to over-handle the dough so I didn't try to mend it or re-roll it too much.  

They bake for about 25 minutes or so in a 325 degree oven until just lightly golden brown.  
To finish these cookies, a coating of powdered sugar is classic.  So is a roll in vanilla sugar.  I choose to dip my cookies in chocolate ganache.  In general, I think I prefer dipping most cookies in a thin layer of pure dark chocolate but when I have cream in the fridge, I tend to take advantage of it and make some ganache (tip: extra ganache is great for making hot chocolate).  Ganache makes for a thicker coating and takes longer to set but you get a nice shine and don't have to worry about the chocolate blooming (white/grey specks) like you would when dipping with untempered chocolate.   
For a few of the cookies, I placed some sliced almonds on top of the ganache. Sprinkles naturally come to mind, too.  And you don't need to give up on the powdered sugar altogether.  Take a piece of wax paper and hold it over the chocolate coated half of the cookie and dust powered sugar over the remaining/exposed half for contrast.
Making Christmas cookies is so much fun!

Recipe:

Almond Crescents
Adapted from Martha Stewart

- Makes approximately 2 dozen - 

1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest (optional)
10 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 cup almond meal (or whole blanched almonds, finely ground)
1 1/2 cups plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
Decorating suggestions: powdered sugar, vanilla sugar, chocolate ganache* or melted dark chocolate 

Place sugar into the bowl of a stand mixer.  Add lemon zest (if using) over top and lightly rub into the sugar until moistened.  Add butter, salt, vanilla and almond extracts.  Beat using the paddle attachment, on medium-speed, until mixture is fluffy. Add almond meal and flour, beating together until combined.  Cover cookie dough and let sit at room temperature for 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or silicon baking mats.  Take about a tablespoon or so of dough and roll it into about a 3-inch or so long log (I find it helps to press the dough together with the palm of my hand, then roll).  Bend the log into a crescent shape, pinching the ends a little.  You may have some cracks in the dough at the bend and you can try to pinch it together but I wouldn't stress over it.

Bake until light golden brown, about 25-30 minutes.  Let cool on trays for a few minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Suggested decorations: You can dip half the cookies in melted dark chocolate or in chocolate ganache like I did.  For the ganache, you will only need about 2 ounces of chocolate (or half this recipe) as the basis.  Alternatively, dust the cookies with powdered sugar.  If you have vanilla sugar, you can also roll the cookies - while they're still warm - in it. 





38 comments:

  1. Hi Monica, I am going to bake these beauties for my mother-in-law and send to her. Of coarse I am going to have to bake a batch for ourselves too. Love how you decorated them, they look like something right out of a bakery.

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    1. Thank you so much, Cheri. I hope you make some for yourself and your family and enjoy them. I saw a beautiful version of these cookies at G Bakes yesterday and hers are perfectly shaped. Her recipe uses egg yolks and I've seen a few recipes that do include eggs and I imagine those would be easier to shape. Might need to try that one day and compare... : )

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  2. These are gorgeous- almond cookies are so dainty! Love the decorating with the sliced almonds :) Pinning!

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    1. Feels so special when someone says they're pinning something from your blog. Thank you, Medha.

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  3. I like your tinkerings! It does sound very easy and versatile too. These are so pretty and sparkly Monica! :D

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    1. Thanks, Lorraine. It's fun to tinker with recipes, just a little... ; )

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  4. I've never made almond crescents before either. They look so pretty and delicious! I love all the holiday cookies this time of year - it's so hard to choose which ones to make. Dipping these in chocolate is such a great idea!

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    1. I think these are very similar to the snowball cookies and such...and in the shortbread kind of family. There are just a million spins on every type of cookie - and I'm very happy about it since it'll keep us busy for years to come. ; )

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  5. I have never made almond crescents before! I absolutely love that you added the almond extract ... I totally sniff the bottle whenever I use it! haha These sound delicious!

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    1. Oh yes...the almond extract perfume needs to come to fruition one day! ; )

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  6. I agree completely Monica - I adore Christmas baking and especially enjoy new recipes so thanks for these gorgeous cookies! Love the chocolate dipped - because I do love chocolate. I'm getting out the almond extract again this weekend - just can't get enough! Have a wonderful weekend.

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    1. Thank you, Tricia! The almond and peppermint extracts are working overtime during the holidays! As is everything else...I'm using up pounds of chocolate and butter this month! : )

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  7. They are a must during the Xmas season over here. I need to bake a huge batch soon.

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    1. Sounds great! Does your recipe include eggs or egg yolks?

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  8. Yummy and crunchy! And very addictive! :)

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    1. They do go down so easy, as you're drinking your hot cup of tea or whatnot! : )

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    2. I grew up eating these so this post brought back so many memories! I need to make these this year!

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    3. Happy food memories are the best, Ashley. Hope you make a batch real soon.

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  9. What a great idea to add the lemon zest! These cookies look very pretty, especially the ones with chocolate and powdered sugar. Love the black and white look! Fun for the holidays. Enjoy the weekend!

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    1. Yes, you can taste it and we liked it. Citrus zest just works so well with everything. Nowadays, I always zest and freeze so as not to waste because I always have a use for it. : ) You have a great weekend, too!

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  10. Those look delicious, especially the ones dipped in chocolate! I'll have to try making almond crescents sometime, they're such a classic cookie :)

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    1. I see them year after year and I'm glad I finally made them. : )

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  11. These looks so good, and being dipped in chocolate makes them all the better!

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    1. I agree; let's dip everything edible in chocolate right now!

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  12. These crescents look adorable and I love that you dip in chocolate and add a hint of lemon to brighten things up (:

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    1. Thanks, Monica. Glad you like them.

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  13. Oh, these reminds me so much of a cookie my grandma used to make. What a trip down memory-lane, they look incredible :)

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    1. I'm sure your grandma's were amazing! Thanks, Petra.

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  14. I want to steal every single one with that chocolate and powdered sugar on! :)

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    1. I like the combo of chocolate and powdered sugar, too. Thanks, Pamela.

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  15. These are just beautiful, and so festive...I love cookie doughs that don't contain eggs, and I adore almond in all forms, so these are right up my alley!

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    1. Thank you, Sue. Christmastime always make me re-appreciate all these buttery, sandy, textured cookies. Enjoy the season! : )

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  16. These are such classic and delicious cookies, but I've never made them. I should definitely add them to my holiday baking list. Yours look so pretty!

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    1. Same here - classics I'd never made before til now. I can understand why these cookies are classics.

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  17. Almond-flavored cookies are my very favorite cookies! Love how you dipped them in chocolate. So beautiful!

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    1. We do share a love of nuts and almonds are just magical!

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  18. Christmas baking is the best. I've never made these almond crescents before Monica, love them. It's a lovely looking butter cookie and dipped in chocolate makes it even more decadent. So pretty and they would be beautiful on the cookie tray.
    Happy Baking my friend and have a wonderful weekend.
    xx

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    1. I wish I could somehow manage my timing better to bake up all the varieties at the same time to have a massive cookie tray! I usually freeze what I can and we have a little cookie fest on Christmas day with a few different ones...these were a small batch that disappeared quick but I'll have to remember to stow more cookies away.

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