Nigella Lawson’s walnut crescent cookies are delicate, traditional European Christmas cookies made with only a few ingredients–butter, sugar, flour, and walnuts. A sprinkling of icing sugar makes them perfectly sweet.
Come Christmas throughout central Europe, you’ll happen upon cookies shaped in the fashion of a crescent moon in practically every country. We’re still getting our facts aligned as to the significance of the shape, but while we do that, help yourself to this lovely, tender, delicate little classic.–Renee Schettler
Walnut Crescent Cookies FAQs
Before you even begin making the dough, make sure you’re using room temperature butter. Walnut crescent dough will be a little crumbly but it should hold together when you pinch it between your fingers. If it’s not sticking together, mix it a little longer using a stand mixer or a hand-held electric mixer. If that doesn’t help, you can add milk (or almond milk) by the tablespoon until the dough comes together as it should.
If the dough warms up too much, you’re going to have some trouble. Place it in the freezer until it cools down enough that you can handle it more easily. The easiest way to shape the crescents is with flour on your hands and just gently roll and shape. Don’t get too hung up on the shaping, they’re supposed to look rustic. You can also just roll into balls and flatten into rounds.
That’ll happen because the confectioner’s sugar is so fine. If that happens, you can just give them another little sprinkle of confectioner’s sugar before serving.
Every year, my mother would make walnut crescents as part of her annual Christmas baking repertoire – a formidable collection of recipes. These are the ultimate, melt-in-your-mouth, impossibly delicate, and moreish walnut crescents. Despite their Christmassy epithet, they’re a necessary and very welcome comfort at any time. Especially if you need a little something with your morning coffee.
Preheat the oven to 325°F (160°C).
Toast the walnuts in a dry skillet over medium-low heat just until they give off a nutty aroma, which ought to take no more than a few minutes. Dump the walnuts on a plate and let cool to room temperature.
Blitz the walnuts in a food processor until pulverized. Return the walnuts to the plate. Pour the sugar into the food processor and blitz just to break up any lumps. Now add the soft butter to the sugar and process again to combine. Then add the flour and salt and process yet again. Open the lid of the processor, scrape down the sides, then return the walnuts to the processor and pulse just until everything is combined.
Turn the dough onto your work surface. It will be sticky yet firm enough to mold with your hands. If it’s too mushy, wrap it in plastic wrap or place it in a resealable plastic bag and toss it in the fridge for about 20 minutes.
To shape the walnut crescent dough into half moons, flour your hands and take scant tablespoons of the dough. Roll them into sausages about 2 1/2 inches long, and then slightly flatten the sausage as you curl it gently to form a crescent. Place the crescents on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
Bake the crescent cookies for 15 to 20 minutes. When done, the cookies will still be quite soft but the tops will be firm and beginning to turn pale brown. Let the cookies rest on the baking sheet for a few minutes before you transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely. Be careful as the cookies will be very fragile.
Push some confectioners’s sugar through a fine sieve into a shallow bowl to remove any lumps. Dredge the cooled cookies in the confectioners’ sugar and turn to coat them thickly. We think you can take it from here.
Serving: 1cookieCalories: 105kcal (5%)Carbohydrates: 5g (2%)Protein: 2g (4%)Fat: 9g (14%)Saturated Fat: 3g (19%)Polyunsaturated Fat: 4gMonounsaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 11mg (4%)Sodium: 1mgPotassium: 38mg (1%)Fiber: 1g (4%)Sugar: 1g (1%)Vitamin A: 133IU (3%)Vitamin C: 1mg (1%)Calcium: 9mg (1%)Iron: 1mg (6%)
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Originally published December 20, 2019