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Viennese Crescents

You’ll want to decorate your holiday table with this sweet Christmas treat from Austria.

Cookie recipes: Viennese Crescents

Buttery almond cookies in the shape of crescents are traditional Christmastime treats in Austria. They’re known as Vanillekipferl for the vanilla sugar that is used in the dough and as a delectable coating.

Ingredients

Cookies:

1¼ cups (about 6 1/2 ounces) whole blanched almonds

½ cup Vanilla Sugar (see recipe below), plus another ½ cup for coating the cookies

16 tablespoons (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened

2¼ cups all-purpose flour

¼ teaspoon salt

Vanilla Sugar:

2 cups granulated sugar

1 vanilla bean

Preparation

Cookies:

1. Combine the almonds and ½ cup of vanilla sugar in a food processor. Process until the nuts are finely ground.

2.Using an electric mixer, beat the butter in a large bowl until creamy. Add the ground almond-sugar mixture and beat until well blended. With the beaters on low speed, mix in the flour and salt just until thoroughly combined.

3. Using your hands, work the dough into a ball. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour or until firm. (If refrigerated for a longer time, the dough will become very hard, so just let it sit at room temperature for about one hour to soften before shaping.)

4.Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line 1 or 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper.

5. Break off clumps of dough a little larger than 1 inch in diameter and squeeze or roll them into little logs about 2½ inches long. Place them on the prepared sheet(s) and, with your fingers, shape the dough into crescents with tapered ends. Arrange them about 2 inches apart on the prepared sheet(s).

6. Bake the cookies for about 15 minutes or until light golden. (If using 2 cookie sheets, rotate them from top to bottom and front to back halfway through baking.) Let the cookies sit on the sheets for about 2 minutes, then carefully transfer them to a rack.

7. Place the remaining ½ cup vanilla sugar in a shallow bowl. While the crescents are still warm, gently roll them in the sugar to coat. (Handle the cookies carefully because they’re fragile.) Set them on a wire rack to cool completely.

8. Store layered between sheets of wax paper, in an airtight container for up to 10 days; or freeze for up to 2 months.

Makes about 45 Cookies

Vanilla Sugar:

1. Combine 2 cups of granulated sugar and ½ to 1 vanilla bean, cut into ¾-inch lengths, in a food processor.

2. Process until only tiny bits of the bean are visible, 1 to 2 minutes. (Pick out and discard any bits larger than the size of chocolate sprinkles.)

3. Store leftover vanilla sugar in a covered jar.

Photo credit: Corinne Planche

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