Prep 2 hrs
Cook 24 hrs
These cookies are time consuming to make. My grandmother and mother have been making them for Christmas for years. Every year after I make them I swear I won't go through the trouble again but then everyone tells me they are their favorite and I feel guilty. Although these started out as Christmas cookies, in my family they have also become Ramadan cookies. First because everyone likes them and second because of their crescent shape.
- 1⁄4 cup milk, warm
- 1⁄2 teaspoon sugar
- 1 (1/4 ounce) envelope yeast
- 2 1⁄4 cups flour, plus
- 2 tablespoons flour, divided
- 1 cup butter
- 2 eggs, separated
- 1 3⁄4 cups sugar, divided
- 3⁄4 lb walnuts, finely ground
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- MAKE THE DOUGH - NIGHT BEFORE.
- Mix milk, sugar and yeast. Let stand until it rises and thickens.
- Cut butter into 2 1/4 cups flour with mixer or pastry blender.
- Make well and add egg yolks and yeast mixture.
- Mix well and knead on floured board until smooth and not sticky.
- Divide dough evenly into 6 balls. Place in floured 9 x 12 pan, cover and refrigerate overnight. They should increase slightly in size.
- MAKE THE NUT FILLING - NIGHT BEFORE.
- Beat the egg whites until stiff.
- Add the nuts, 3/4 cups sugar and lemon juice. Mix well.
- Press the nut filling into a square pan, cover and refrigerate overnight.
- GETTING READY - NEXT DAY.
- Take the dough balls out of the refrigerator at least 4 hours before you will begin rolling them out.
- Take the nut filling out just before rolling the dough out. Cut the nut filling into 48 portions (6 x 8 rows) like you are cutting up bar cookies.
- Mix together remaining 1 cup of sugar and 2 tablespoons flour.
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Sprinkle work surface liberally with sugar/flour mixture to prevent dough from sticking.
- Roll one dough out to 10 inch circle.
- Using pizza cutter or knife, cut each circle into 8 slices (like a pizza).
- Put one nut portion at the large end of a slice; roll from large end to point, tucking in sides, forming a crescent. Trt to keep them pinched close so the filling doesn't leak out during baking.
- Place on ungreased cookie sheet with point on bottom. You can probably fit at least 16 cookies per tray.
- Continue until all dough is rolled and filled using plenty of sugar/flour mixture to prevent sticking.
- Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or until dough is golden. Remove from oven and remove cookies from tray immediately to prevent sticking. Cool on wire rack.
I can vouch that this recipe is a lot of work, and well worth the effort, as this is exactly my mom's recipe! I don't just mean the ingredients, even the write-up is nearly the same as she wrote it for publication in our parish cookbook many years ago. Well, it's not hers per se, as the recipe came to us from my father's side of the family, who emigrated to Pennsylvania from the Banat over a century ago. And while his family is of Germanic decent, I suspect this recipe has a lot of Balkan influence. There is one final step that my family does, which is to dust the cookies liberally (or to taste) with powdered sugar (this step is unwritten in my mom's recipe as well, but it's always done). I dust them right in the cookie tin, one layer at a time, just be sure to let the cookies cool down enough that they are set and the powdered sugar doesn't melt. You don't necessarily need to remove the cookies off the tray to cool, but place the tray on a wire rack and move each cookie slightly on the tray with a spatula promptly after coming out of the oven, to prevent sticking. Also, the nut filling is ground very fine. At home, we ground the walnuts using an old Mouli Julienne hand grinder, using the fine disc. I use an attachment on a Kitchen Aid mixer using the fine cone, and of course the mixer also ably handles all the mixing / kneading / whipping chores. While this recipe is for 48 cookies, my mom's was written for 96, which means everything gets doubled (including the number of dough balls) - except the sugar/flour mix for rolling, where one cup of sugar plus the flour is still plenty - don't skimp or you'll have "rolling issues". Cookie16, not sure who you are, but there must be less than six degrees separating us! I am also thrilled to see it crossing cultures from a Christmas cookie to a Ramadan cookie.