Published November 1, 1998.
Superfine sugar and a combination of finely chopped and ground nuts yield tender, delicate, nutty cookies.
Nut crescents do not get the respect they deserve. Often the first to be tossed out in a pile of leftover Christmas cookies, they appear stale, dry, floury, and flavorless, except perhaps for a pasty layer of melting confectioners' sugar.
When these cookies are well made, they can be delicious: buttery, nutty, slightly crisp, slightly crumbly, with a melt-in-your mouth quality. We wanted to develop a recipe that would put them back in their proper place, as the perfect accompaniment to a cup of coffee or tea.
The ratio of butter to flour in almost all of the recipes we looked at was the same: 1 cup to 2 cups, and this is what worked for us, too. We tried three kinds of sugar in the batter: granulated, confectioners', and superfine. The last resulted in just what we wanted: cookies that melted in our mouths. In determining the amount (a modest 1/3 cup), we had to remember that the cookies would be sweetened once more by their traditional roll in confectioners' sugar. While some recipes argue in favor of coating the cookies while they're still warm from the oven, we found that this created exactly the pasty coating that we wanted to avoid. We recommend letting the cookies cool to room temperature before finishing them off with confectioners' sugar.list of recipes