Friday, 16 December 2011

Kipferl; Nut Crescents

I got this recipe from my great-aunt Hilda many years ago, but I could have gotten it anywhere, just about. This is a ubiquitous and much-loved Christmas cookie for many people. I've adjusted it a little; more nuts and flavouring but otherwise it's the same. I had my usual problem with shortbread type cookies here, in that my crescents were very much inclined to flatten out. Delicious, though. I like that you get most of the hit of sweetness from the icing sugar on the outside, leaving the buttery, nutty richness to shine through in the middle.

48 to 64 cookies
1 hour prep time

1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups soft unbleached flour
1 1/2 cups ground hazelnuts (OR almonds OR pecans)
1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 to 3/4 cup icing sugar

Line 2 large cookie trays with parchment paper.

Cream the butter and sugar, and mix in the extracts. Mix the flour, ground nuts, and salt. Mix the flour into the butter until well blended.

Divide the dough into 48 to 64 equal pieces. I find it best to divide the dough into 4 equal portions and work with one portion at a time. Keep the remainder of the dough in the fridge while you work. Cut each quarter into quarters again, and each small quarter (sixteenth of the original dough) into 3 or 4 equal pieces. Roll each little piece into a spindle shape; that is, a cylinder a little thinner at each end than in the middle. Lay the dough thus rolled on the prepared cookie tray, and arrange it in the form of a crescent.

When the first tray is formed, put it in the freezer until the second tray is formed. At this point, preheat the oven to 325°F. Continue forming the cookies for the second tray. Bake the first (cold) tray of cookies for 10 to 13 minutes, depending on their size, while the second tray goes into the freezer to chill. Let the first baked tray of cookies cool while the second tray bakes.

When the first tray of cookies has cooled for about 10 minutes, measure out the icing sugar and sift a little onto a plate. Gently place as many cookies on the sugar as will fit on the plate and sift some more sugar over them. Turn them to be sure they are completely coated, then return them to the tray. Continue sifting and coating the warm but not hot cookies in icing sugar until all are done. Store in an air-tight tin. Cookies are best after several days, and will keep for a couple of weeks if kept dry and cool.

Last year at this time I made Aunt Alethea's Famous Squares.

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