27 Dec2008

Crescents a la Sister

by Marketman


These cookies appear in Vienna in December; powdered sugar celebrates the first snow of winter. The crescent celebrates the victory over the Turks who were discovered tunneling towards Vienna by bakers working at night in basement bakeries.

1/2 lb. blanched almonds, pecans or walnuts
1/4 lb white sugar (2/3 cup)
1 tbsp. real vanilla extract
1 lb. unsalted butter
1 1/4 lb. all purpose flour (4 cups sifted)
1/2 lb. (1 cup) confectioners sugar for dusting/topping

Originally made with almonds but now I prefer the wonderful flavor of pecans. Grind the nuts with the sugar until you have very fine pieces, but not flour. Mix the butter with the nut/sugar mixture and vanilla. Stir in the flour. Can be mixed by hand. Chill dough in the refrigerator for 1 hour. Use 1″ inch scoop to portion dough. Quickly roll dough between your hands into a 3″ cigarette shape and place on a lined cookie sheet, curving the ends to form a crescent shape. Place cookies 2″ apart, they will puff up. Bake in a preheated 350F oven until the tips are lightly browned. Let cool 10 minutes before removing from the pans. Sift powdered sugar generously over the tops of the cookies. Match 2 cookies together and place in paper cups. Makes about 60, keeps well for two weeks.

Recipe by Sister. Photo by Nephew.



  1. pinoycontests says:

    Yum! I also love pecans, which have a more scrumptious flavor and texture compared to almonds. ;-)

    Dec 27, 2008 | 9:37 am


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  3. Mik says:

    The cookies look amazing, but I am also taken by the bowl. How beautiful! Sister really has exquisite stuff.

    Dec 27, 2008 | 12:43 pm

  4. NewYorker says:

    Merry Christmas MarketMan and family! Sister makes a beautiful and impressive assortment of cookies. How does she find the time and I wonder how long it took her to prepare all these different cookies?

    MarketMan, I have a semi-off topic question about cookies. Remember those NY Times Choc Chip Cookies? Do you know if that dough freezes well, and if so, how long will it keep in the freezer?


    Dec 27, 2008 | 1:55 pm

  5. sister says:

    Dear New Yorker,
    A tin of cookies from me is first and foremost, a gift of time.If shopping, mixing, shaping, decorating, baking, packing, and shipping or delivery is counted it works out to roughly about an hour per 2 dozen cookies or 200 per day. That’s why cookies are very expensive at Payard or Greenberg but well worth the money.It took me about 5 days to make the more than a thousand I gave away in 1 and 2 lb. boxes. I still have to bake more today to make it through the rest of the 12 days of Christmas. I prepare several of the cookie doughs and have them in the fridge ready for shaping and baking whenever I have several hours to do it. There is nary a cookie in the house as of last night.
    Most years I make about 300 lbs. fruitcake to give away as those can be made before Thanksgiving. This year I only made about 150 lbs. and made 50 lbs. of cookies which are more popular than fruitcake. One has to be obssessed with baking to do this. Next year I’ll avoid all that by going home to Manila!
    Best wishes for the New Year.

    Dec 27, 2008 | 7:10 pm

  6. Connie C says:

    Hi Sister,

    Your recipe calls for blanching the pecans. Does this mean pouring boiling water over them? for how long do they soak? Does that mean they will still be wet/damp when they are ground with the sugar ? or do I wait till they dry? do I grind them using a food processor? I don’t own a grinder.

    I am not afraid to ask if I don’t understand. It feels safe not to be called stupid, or if so, I know I am not one….at least I can make dough rise, judging from my ensaimada experience (first time, ha) tho I had to rescue my sleeping dough for a cold rise in the fridge which did not wake the quick rise yeast from its slumber….or maybe I should have used the regular yeast instead). I have some shelled raw pecans and was happy MM post a recipe so I can use my pecans another way. Not having a kitchen scale, how many cups you think would half a pound of pecans make?

    Happy New Year to you and thanks for your inspiration. I never dreamed I would be baking as much as I have done this holiday season, recipes inspired by this website from MM, you and Betty Q.

    Dec 27, 2008 | 9:03 pm

  7. sister says:

    Who said anything about blanching the pecans? Only the almonds have to be purchased blanched as opposed to with skins. Just use the pecans, shelled of course. You’re right, it’s better to ask. Half a lb. of pecans is about 1 2/3 c. Using a food processor is the easiest way of chopping them very finely with the sugar. If you do not have one just chop the nuts with a sharp, heavy knife on a board and add the sugar later. Ask Santa for an inexpensive kitchen scale, it’s the quickest and most efficient way to scale ingredients.
    Next time use regular yeast for ensaimada, quick rise yeast is not recommended.
    Thanks for trying out the recipes, practice will perfect them to your taste. Happy baking!

    Dec 27, 2008 | 9:26 pm

  8. maria says:

    i want to make this. looks really really yummmy

    Dec 27, 2008 | 9:41 pm

  9. Connie C says:

    Sorry Sister for the misinterpretation. Yes, the recipe said blanched almonds but I took it to apply to the rest of the nuts…. ( a knock on my head , my brain not catching up with my eyes)

    I’m glad we are not talking where to insert suppositories here,(sorry, hee, hee).

    And thanks for the clarification and useful tips.

    Dec 27, 2008 | 11:15 pm

  10. NewYorker says:

    Sister – you’re right, the cookies are a gift of time, and a labor of love, if I may add. The cookies you made are beautiful and look absolutely delicious.

    You must have holiday baking and preparation down to a science in order to churn out that massive amount of baked goods in a short period of time. Do you need an apprentice? :)

    Your fruitcake production brings me back to when my family and I lived in the Philippines. My Mom’s an avid baker, and every Christmas, fruitcake was the standard giveaway, together with butter pound cake. I recall the cakes being baked, and every few days, would be brushed with Fundador brandy, then after being aged appropriately, wrapped in its final packaging of foil, colored cellophane and ribbon. For a couple of years she and my aunt made a little business of it every Christmas and she would make somthing like 300 fruitcakes. Those were the days. Now her Chrismas baking is limited to several dozen batches of ensaymada, some plain, some with haleya.

    Happy New Year!

    Dec 28, 2008 | 11:25 am

  11. sister says:

    New Yorker, the fruit cake baking started with my grandmother and my mother, it was also the standard Christmas all-purpose gift. Now with ingredients at an all time high it is like giving away a brick of gold.

    Dec 28, 2008 | 12:01 pm

  12. corrine says:

    Connie C., better to ask than waste expensive ingredients. I have powdered almond on stock not whole ones. I just hope I can still find some in the supermarket.

    Sister, you inspire me to make cookies. What a labor of love! Lucky friends and relatives!

    Dec 28, 2008 | 4:09 pm

  13. Angela says:

    Sister, have you tried making Mexican Wedding cookies? The ingredients and measurements are very similar to the Crescents, but the Mexican cookies are a different shape (those are round). Your cookies look delicious.

    Dec 28, 2008 | 4:30 pm

  14. Angela says:

    Forgot to add this:

    I just found your fruitcake recipe, Sister, and am planning to do this for next year. One question: what are sultana raisins?

    Dec 28, 2008 | 5:21 pm

  15. sister says:

    Angela, you are absolutely right, Mexican wedding cakes have the same recipe using pecans but shaped into domes. I shape the domes for pecan dough and crescents for the almond dough. Another variation is to mix cinnamon with the confectioner’s sugar to give a spicy finish. Both shapes are wonderful.

    New Yorker, Yes, we used Fundador brandy in the Phil. For cakes going home I make them in mid-October, pack in tins for shipping in a Balikbayan box to arrive in time for Christmas!

    Sultanas are yellow raisens which have a less “winey” taste than dark raisens. If you cannot find them just use dark raisens or even pitted prunes which were in the original recipe. You can vary the fruit and the amount, some like less fruit and more cake. You might try making the fruitcake in early November so you have it mellowing in time for Christmas.
    I make the cookies later because I do not add a preservative and want them as fresh as possible.

    Dec 28, 2008 | 7:29 pm

  16. marissewalangkaparis says:

    Galing Sister!! Inspiring!!!

    Dec 29, 2008 | 2:34 pm

  17. k. ramos says:

    Sister, do you also make marzipan? Ma is making leche flan and I hate throwing the whites away, plus we have a lot of almonds and walnuts from Ma and Pa’s US trip last year. It’s one of the recipes that come to mind whenever I think of leftover egg whites and nuts. :D

    Dec 30, 2008 | 6:00 pm

  18. Ate says:

    17th century. And they were Turks, not Arabs.

    Jan 4, 2009 | 11:15 am

  19. Marketman says:

    Ate, thank you for that correction, original post has been revised…

    Jan 5, 2009 | 6:52 am

  20. sister says:

    k.ramos, I hope you stored your nuts in the freezer, they get rancid very quickly. I don’t make marzipan as it is readily available here but you might try a cookie made with eggwhites, sugar and ground almonds (several lbs) like a macaroon. Frankly, just close your eyes and chuck the eggwhites and use the nuts for something else.

    Jan 6, 2009 | 2:10 am


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