I’ve been plowing through many a cookie recipe this past week to bring you only the best of the best, dear readers. I’ve made oatmeal-toffee cookies, white-chocolate, raspberry and walnut cookies, and—one of my new favorites—a classic South American sandwich cookie called an alfajore (recipe to come).
They all went pretty quickly, but these buttery bites seemed to really strike a cord with family and friends. They’re incredibly simple, but their flaky texture, buttery bite and hazelnut crunch make this cookie an all-time classic. And, of course, everyone loves stuff rolled in powdered sugar.
And this isn’t just any powdered sugar. It’s vanilla-bean powdered sugar, which gives the cookies not only a beautiful white color but a lovely vanilla aroma as well. If you’re feeling lazy, or you don’t happen to have vanilla beans lying around the house, you can
just call my cousin Kelly who has 2 pounds of them skip the addition of the vanilla bean to the sugar altogether.
Unlike many cookie recipes, eggs do not make an appearance in this one. Instead, butter alone is what holds these cookies together, and a short rest in the fridge means the butter in the dough will still be nice and cold when you put the cookies in the oven. Because the butter in the dough is cold, the butter melts slowly when the cookies are baked, leaving you with a firm but flaky cookie.
Another change I made is to leave the hazelnuts somewhat intact instead of grinding them finely. This way there’s a nice crunch to the cookies when you bite into them—and it’s what makes these cookies so addictive, especially with a tall glass of milk. These Hazelnut Crescent Cookies have definitely earned themselves a place in my Christmas cookie repertoire.
One Year Ago: Party Perfect: Sweet Basil Cheesecake
Hazelnut Crescent Cookies with Vanilla-Bean Sugar
Instead of just plain powdered sugar, these cookies are rolled in confectioner’s sugar that’s spiked with vanilla beans. This recipe is adapted from one on Allrecipes.com. Click here to download a printable copy of this recipe.
1 c. whole skinned hazelnuts
1 c. (2 sticks) unsalted butter
½ cup white sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/8 tsp. fine salt
2 c. sifted confectioners’ sugar
1 vanilla bean
Grind the hazelnuts. In a food processor, pulse the hazelnuts until they’re almost ground, but there are still small bits of hazelnut. These little hazelnut bites are what give this cookie crunch.
Make the dough. In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream together the butter and white sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the vanilla. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour and the salt. Add the flour mixture and hazelnuts to the butter mixture and beat just until the dough comes together. Shape dough into a ball. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.
Make the vanilla sugar. Meanwhile, place sifted powdered sugar in a bowl or small container. With sharp chef’s knife, split the vanilla bean lengthwise. Scrape out the seeds and mix them into the sugar. Cut pod into 2 inch pieces and mix into sugar.
Form cookies. Preheat oven to 375˚F (190˚C). Remove dough from refrigerator and form into 1-inch balls. Roll each ball into a small roll, 3 inches long. Place rolls 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheet, and bend each one to make a crescent shape.
Bake cookies. Bake 10 to 12 minutes in the preheated oven, or until set but not brown. Let stand 1 minute, then remove from cookie sheets onto a wire rack to cool. Once cookies are completely cool, sprinkle with prepared sugar mixture. Turn gently to coat on both sides. Store cookies in an airtight container at room temperature. Just before serving, coat with more vanilla sugar, if desired.