Biscuits de Noël aux amandes

Who invented almond and butter crescents, the sugar-dusted treats served at Christmas in many parts of the world? Some say the biscuits were invented by a Viennese baker who adopted the shape of the crescent moon of the Ottoman flag to celebrate the victory over the Turks in the 17th century. But I'm not so sure, as crescent almond cookies exist far beyond Vienna. In North Africa, for example, they are called gazelle horns…

Christmas Almond Cookies / Crescents of butter and almonds

Also French are almond and butter crescents, which are served in Alsace from Advent to Christmas. In the United States they were a specialty of my Jewish mother, and even more so of her mother Hilda, who had roots in Vienna. Luckily they both passed the recipe down to me – I have a handwritten copy from each of them – and I wanted to share it with you today. It seems appropriate, at this delicate moment in world history, to celebrate a holiday dedicated to peace on earth with a cookie enjoyed by Christians, Muslims and Jews.

Butter and almond crescents, known in the German-speaking world as vanilla chickenthey are almond shortcrust biscuits flavored with vanilla and dusted with icing sugar, also called icing sugar, icing sugar or powdered sugar. Making them is easy and fun. Butter, flour, sugar and vanilla are mixed together to form a dough. The dough is chilled before being formed into a crescent shape, baked briefly, then dipped in icing sugar.

The dough can take other shapes, for example discs topped with a candied cherry or a piece of candied lemon, orange or lime peel. This makes for a colorful display when you take the cookies out during the holidays. But be warned: Once the cookies come out of the oven, it can be difficult to keep them long enough to have some by Christmas. This happened this year. I made the cookies in advance so I could write this post. I was planning to save them all until Christmas Eve, but my daughter had another idea…

The remaining almond butter cookies were placed in the freezer along with another of my mother's specialties, bourbon balls. I haven't posted that recipe yet, but it's similar to the chocolate truffle recipe if you want to create a mixed platter of delicious treats. I also made bourbon balls earlier this year so I could send both types of cookies to my brother and sister-in-law in California. Happy Holidays, Ben and Mary!

With Christmas just ten days away, this is a good time to take a look The everyday French chefHoliday Menus, with ideas for festive meals with a French twist for omnivores, vegetarians and vegans. I wish you happy holidays. And good cooking!

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