Monday, December 8, 2008

Thanks, Joy (of Cooking)

By the time I received my Joy of Cooking cookbook, more than three decades ago, I'd already become well-acquainted with one recipe that my mother had always made for Christmas - Almond Crescents. After my husband and I married, I learned he had grown up with the same delicious holiday treat. They soon became a beloved recipe in our home too.

Fast forward 25 years. Today, I can't seem to use any recipe without giving it my own spin. Those of you who are regular readers of this blog also know I have a 'thing' about whole wheat pastry flour; I don't bake without it. We're crazy about cinnamon too and, although I do like almonds, I've switched to walnuts because we always keep them on hand.

So, with thanks to the Rombauer sisters (the authors), my mother, and my husband's mother, and a few adjustments, I give you:

Walnut Crescents
Makes 3-4 dozen

3/4 cup confectioners' sugar
3/4 cup butter, softened
1/4 canola oil (*the original recipe calls for all butter; oil makes a flakier, flatter & larger cookie)
2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
(the original calls for 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, but I reduced this because my flour is denser and previous cookies were too dry and crumbly)
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 teaspoon cinnamon (optional in original recipe)
1 cup ground walnuts

confectioner's sugar
cinnamon (there is no cinnamon in this part of the original recipe)

Cream together butter, oil and confectioner's sugar. Add vanilla, cinnamon and walnuts. Combine thoroughly and form a large ball. Cover completely and chill, about 20 to 30 minutes.

Form small crescent shapes with chilled dough - about 1 1/2 inches long - and place on greased cookie sheets. Bake in 350 degree pre-heated oven, about 15 minutes. Let cool just until easy to handle.

Stir together additional confectioner's sugar and cinnamon in increments of 1 cup sugar to 1 teaspoon cinnamon. Roll/cover each cookie in confectioner's sugar. Cool thoroughly before storing them in an air-tight container.

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