Saturday, December 10, 2016

Vanilla Walnut Crescents

From all the cookies I have tried making, these are among the best from a variety of perspectives: they are loved by everyone, the favorite of many, and relatively easy to make. The recipe is based on one that I found in a Romanian cookbook by Silvia Jurcovan, Carte de Bucate (Bucuresti: Editura Tehnica, 1983, p.437).

The quantities and temperatures given must be followed precisely - they are not "more or less." For that reason (and not just because the metric system is more widely used) I will give the quantities in grams. 

250g All-purpose flour
200g unsalted butter
100g finely-ground walnuts
 70g powdered sugar 
   1 packet vanilla sugar
Plus roughly another 100-150g of powdered sugar to coat the cookies in after they are baked.

Vanilla sugar is not widely used in the United States, but most international stores sell it. If you don't have it, you can substitute by adding 1 teaspoon of vanilla essence in the dough. 

In a large bowl combine the butter, 70g sugar, and vanilla sugar together until the mixture is fluffy. Then add the flour and walnuts and mix them by hand until the dough sticks together.

Place the bowl with the resulting ball of dough in the refrigerator, covered with a sheet of wax paper. It should stay in the fridge for half an hour or until it is hardened. Then remove the dough from the fridge. Break off pieces and shape them into golf ball sized balls. Then put most of them back in the fridge to stay cold, taking just a couple at a time to work with.

On the wax paper, roll each ball with your hands until they are lengthened into long sticks.

Cut the sticks into pieces 2" in length.

Curve the pieces into crescent shapes and place them on a baking tray (in most cases you will need to lightly grease the baking tray with butter).

Preheat the oven to 350° F (180° C). Place one baking tray with the crescents in the oven for 10-12 minutes. They should be lightly brown, as seen in the picture below.

After removing them from the oven, do not let them cool for more than 2-3 minutes. Then move them gently with your finger to ensure they do not stick to the baking tray. They are very fragile while warm! 

Roll each cookie through powdered sugar until it is evenly coated and place it on a serving tray.

They taste better after they have cooled, but once you know how good they are, it can be hard to be patient!

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