These are the classic Christmas cookie that I grew up with and this is my great-grandmother’s recipe. The recipe itself could possibly go further back.
While many families get nostalgic about sugar cookies or their specific treats, these were the cookies that we prized the most in my family. My mother was the master at this, and always made them well in advance of her mother’s Christmas Eve party. It was difficult work hiding them from us, and I remember scouring cupboards, sewing tins, and the deep freezer in a vain attempt to find them. In truth, they symbolize a lot for me – the work my mother put in, my grandmother’s amazing Christmas Eve family party where our extended relatives rolled up in car after car. We were so happy to see each other and be around our cousins, aunts and uncles. This was a time when video cameras were not an economic reality for most. A few pictures exist, but what remains is mostly in my mind. I don’t remember a lot of the food that was served (although I am certain there was a massive amount), because I was focused only one thing – my utter excitement at seeing those cookies on the plate and finally being allowed to eat them. We never ran out, despite all of those people – no doubt due to my mother’s insanely good hiding skills.
Supposedly the crescent shape is to symbolize victory over the Turks, but who knows? What I do know is that I miss the bygone era of dressing your best, and celebrating your whole extended family without the distraction of phones and television. I didn’t know it at the time, but we were so very fortunate to have one another.
I’ve seen many iterations of this cookie, and even ones where you dip the ends in chocolate. I hope you pardon my insistence that the old way is the best way – at least for me. Sometimes simplicity is the best way, because it connects me to a time and place that lives only in my heart and memories. It’s also really delicious.
- 2 cups cake flour or soft flour (White Lily)
- 1 pinch salt
- 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
- 3/4 cup powdered sugar
- 3/4 cup almond flour
- 2 tsp vanilla extract or 1/2 vanilla pod, seeds scraped into the dough
- Cream butter and sugar together. Mix in the rest of ingredients util a crumbly dough forms. If the dough is too crumbly, add 1-2 tbs water
- Use your hands and press the dough together and wrap in plastic wrap.
- Chill the dough for an hour.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line 2 baking sheets with parchment or silpats.
- Break off the dough in to the size of a small walnut and roll into small cylinders and taper the ends into dull points. Each should be the length and thickness of your pinkie finger. Bend into a crescent shape and place on baking sheet about 1 inch apart.
- Bake for 14 -17 minutes until edges are golden. They should not brown. Dust with vanilla powdered sugar while slightly warm. When cool, dust again or roll them around in sugar.
*Pro tip -if you find it tricky to roll between your hands, cover a board with plastic wrap and roll the pieces against the plastic, using the heel of your hand
*Pro tip – Place two vanilla pods in your container for powdered sugar to infuse it with more flavor.