When I heard about the International Holiday Cookie Recipe Exchange hosted by Adrienne at Gastroanthropology and Lori at Fake Food Free, I jumped at the chance to take part. The two organized this event in which cookie recipes were shared by email among fellow food bloggers from around the world. The recipe I received was from Astheroshe of Accro. She explained that her mother always baked these cresecent cookies for Christmas, and they were one of her favorites. She noted that they can be made with any nuts, but her mother's version always included walnuts. The recipe looked very familiar to me because my grandmother used to bake a very similar cookie in a round shape rather than a crescent, and hers were always made with pecans. I've had my grandmother's recipe tucked away for years and had never gotten around to using it. So at last, thanks to Astheroshe and by way her mother's recipe, I finally made grandma's powdered sugar pecan cookies.
The recipe is a simple one starting with room temperature butter being creamed with confectioner's sugar before adding flour, salt, vanilla, a little bit of water, and finally chopped nuts. My grandma's recipe calls for twice as much sugar as Astheroshe's mother's recipe, so I split the difference. I also have a recipe for Mexican wedding cookies which are very similar, and that used even more sugar. For my taste one quarter to one half cup in the dough itself is enough. Clearly, the shape can be whatever you prefer. I followed Astheroshe's instructions to shape crescents by hand. I used a mounded tablespoon of cookie dough, rolled it into a cylinder between my hands, and then shaped that into a crescent with thinner ends and a thicker middle. The cookies have no baking soda or powder, so they don't rise or spread on the baking sheet. After they are baked and cooled, they are tossed in more confectioner's sugar for a snowy, festive look.
These were as good as grandma's cookies, and they're the kind of cookie that gets better after a day or two if you're lucky enough to keep some around that long. I suppose this means I've officially started my holiday cookie baking for this year. One cookie is done, and there are, at least, a few more to go.
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup confectioner's sugar (plus and additional 1/2 cup for coating cookies)
1 1/2 teaspoon water
2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup toasted pecans, chopped
-Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F.
-Cream butter until light, add confectioner's sugar and cream again. Add flour, water, and vanilla, and mix to combine. The dough will be dry. Fold in chopped nuts.
-To shape each cookie, roll a mounded tablespoon of dough between your hands to form a small cylinder. Bend cylinder and pinch ends thinner to create a crescent. Place cookies on a parchment- or silpat-lined baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes. Let cookies cool and then roll in the additional confectioner's sugar to coat.