My grandmother used to send Christmas cookies in several tins, most of them large, round and gently dented. However, there was often a slightly smaller tin tagging along. Nestled in the waxed paper of this tin would be these powdered-sugar coated crescents, rich with nuts and butter.

Theoretically, these cookies were packed on their own because they were a bit fragile and because the powdered sugar would otherwise have had its messy way with the other types of cookies. But really, they were packed alone so Dad could abscond with the tin. The look he’d get as he popped a whole sugary cookie into his mouth was pure guilty bliss.

The recipe below is lightly adapted from Grammy’s, which came from a slender book, “Holiday Cookies,” from Peter Pauper Press. (I wish Peter Pauper Press still published cookbooks: I’d go straight to them to publish the Baking Family dessert book. Beautiful typesetting and design, all in a neat little old-fashioned package.)

For finishing, I just pour about a half-cup of confectioners’ sugar into a cereal bowl and gently roll the cookies one by one in the bowl.

Almond Crescents

Makes 5-6 dozen cookies

  • 1 cup butter (2 sticks), softened
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2/3 cup blanched slivered almonds, finely chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1-2/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • Confectioners’ sugar

Cream butter and sugar together. Mix in chopped nuts and salt, then add flour gradually, mixing well after each addition. Refrigerate dough for at least one hour and as long as two days.

Preheat oven to 375°F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Remove dough from refrigerator. Pull off small pieces and work with hands until somewhat pliable. Roll into two-inch long pencil-thick strips and shape into small crescents.

Bake until set, not brown — about 14-15 minutes. Allow to cool for a few minutes on the cookie sheet, then remove to cooling rack or plate. When fully cool, roll in confectioners sugar.