Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Nana's Crescent Cookies

Today is my dad's birthday. I'm not sure he's ever read this blog, but I'll give him a shout-out anyway. Happy Birthday, Dad! Five or six years ago, I found out that his favorite cookies are these crescents that my grandmother used to make many years ago. So I got the recipe from my aunt and have made these cookies and mailed them to him for his birthday every year since. He's not one to ever want gifts, so this is a nice, somewhat sentimental way to let him know I'm thinking of him.

These cookies are very similar to what you might know as Mexican Wedding Cookies or Russian Tea Cakes or any number of other names, but in my family, they're simply called Nana's Crescent Cookies. Of course she had to be difficult and make the cookies into a crescent shape rather than a much easier ball/circle. Even after all these years, I still have not perfected the crescent shape all that well, but I don't think my dad minds too much!

The tricky part about these cookies is getting them at the right temperature before rolling them in the powdered sugar. If they're completely cool, the sugar doesn't always stick as well. If they're too warm, the sugar sort of melts into the cookie, almost disappearing and making them a bit sticky. This is nearly always the trap I fall into, and I find myself having to roll them in the sugar a second time, after they've cooled a little more, to coat them and cut down the stickiness. One of these years, I'll get it right. But until then, my dad's worth the extra work!

Nana's Crescent Cookies

2 sticks butter, softened
5 Tbsp sugar
2 tsp vanilla
1 Tbsp water
½ tsp salt
2 cups flour
2 cups pecans, finely chopped
Powdered sugar, for rolling (about 1/2 - 3/4 cup)

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

Cream the butter in a mixing bowl until fluffy and then add sugar and mix until combined. Add vanilla and water and mix well. On low speed, add salt and flour and mix until it's all incorporated. Stir in chopped pecan pieces.

Form into crescents (or balls if you don't have tradition standing in your way!) and bake for about 20 minutes until the bottoms and edges are starting to brown. I scooped about a one inch ball of dough to make each of my crescents and got almost 50 cookies out of the batch.

Allow cookies to cool a bit and while still slightly warm but easy to handle, roll in powdered sugar and move to a rack to finish cooling completely. If necessary, roll them in the powdered sugar again once totally cool.

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