Saturday, December 13, 2008

O Christmas Cookie, O Christmas Cookie

There are about a million cookies you can make for Christmas every year and most years I think my mom tried to make them all. It was pretty great, especially for my sugar deprived sister and I. Yeah, we had one of those health conscious moms who try and convince you that carob and chocolate are TOTALLY the same thing. Other sugar restraints in our childhood included a ban on sugar cereals (anything more than 6g of sugar per serving), bubble gum ice cream and soda 99.6% of the time. Today, I appreciate mom's efforts to not turn us into obese children. But when your best friend has a Nutella sandwich on white bread for lunch every day and you have tuna, well... you get what I'm saying.

So the holidays were those rare times we knew we'd be getting some sugar in our lives. Every year we'd comb through the recipes and convince mom she should make some if not all of the following: gingerbread persons (mom is also a feminist), nutmeg logs, sugar cookies with flavored icing, candy cane cookies, lebchuken, rum balls and the cookies you find here today - Crescent Cookies.
These guys are fairly traditional. I've seen them on food blogs, food tv, in food magazines and in the recipe cards of several friends. They're sometimes called Russian Tea Cookies or Mexican Wedding Cookies, in their many variations. You'll often see them in a round shape, but mom always made them into crescents, hence the name. The recipe was passed down to her from my father's aunt and originated with my great grandmother. So these babies have history. So much so that they were included in the cookbook I made for family members as a Christmas gift last year.

They're quick, not super sweet and don't require a period of refrigeration. Perfect for all you busy bakers out there. And while they may not scream "Christmas!!!" the way gingerbread does, they'll quickly find a place in your holiday baking repetoire. I guarantee it.

Crescent Cookies
recipe from Great Grandmother Kucserka

1/2 lb butter (2 sticks)
2 tbsp. sugar
2 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. water
2 c. flour
1/2 tsp. salt
2 c. chopped pecans (I substituted walnuts because we had several bags of them in the freezer. You can also use almonds or hazelnuts. You can chop by hand or use a food processor.)

Cream the butter; blend in sugar, vanilla and water. Sift together flour and salt; stir into butter mixture. Add nuts and mix thoroughly. Use portions about the size of a walnut, roll into crescent shape. Bake at 325 degrees farenheit for about 20 minutes. While warm, roll in or sprinkle with powedered sugar.

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