While researching Pecan Crescent cookies, I found that Russian Tea Cake and Mexican Wedding Cake cookie recipes are virtually identical to Pecan Crescent cookies. The Greeks also have a very similar cookie they make during the Holidays, called Kourabiedes.
This recipe was handed down in our family from my Great Aunt Maxine. It may have actually come from her mother, my great-grandma Chapin; that is where most of the family’s recipes drifted down from. But when Grandma wrote it down for me, she attributed this recipe to her sister Maxine.
If you enlarge grandma’s handwritten recipe I dropped in here, you will see it is a double recipe. My recipe below is half that. But if you want to make a lot of these cookies, go for it. They do freeze well!
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Where Did The Crescent Shape For Pecan Crescent Cookies Come From?
The crescent shape is a unique take on the cookie. This type of cookie is usually round. The shape of the cookie led me to articles for Vanillekipferl Biscuits. This is an Austrian cookie made for the holidays and dates back to the late 1600s and the Austrian-Hungarian Empire.
The Kipferl has origins in Vienna as many fine pastries do. The Viennese recipe uses walnuts and adds eggs for leavening. According to legend, the crescent shape represents the victory of the Hapsburgs over the Osman Empire. The crescent shape is representative of the crescent moon on the Turkish flag.
The basic cookie recipe stayed the same as it moved around the world. But each country the cookie settled down in used the nuts they had on hand. In Italy, the version of this cookie is made with almonds. Hazelnuts are popular in the Czech Republic and Hungary. Another way each country makes the cookie it’s own is to add flavors unique to their home. The Greeks add rose water; the Italians add lemon juice.
Tips for Baking Pecan Crescent Cookies
- Use a mini food processor for chopping the nuts. You want the nuts finely chopped so they distribute well throughout the cookie but don’t cause breaks
- Let the cookie dough rest in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes before you shape the cookies.
- Do not grease the cookie sheet. Use a silicone baking sheet to ensure easy removal of the cookies.
- Dust the cookies with powdered sugar while still warm; more sugar will stick to the cookies.
- It can be hard to get the cookies to form a crescent. If you want the taste but not the work, just roll your cookies into cute little balls!
Pecan Crescents AKA: Russian Tea Cakes, Mexican Wedding Cakes, and Greek Kourabiedes! One cookie so good many countries claim it as their own!
- 1 cup butter (at room temperature)
- 1/2 cup powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 2 cups flour
- 1 1/2 cups pecans chopped finely
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Additional powdered sugar for rolling cookies in after baking
- Pre-heat oven to 350 F
- Cream the butter until fluffy
- Add the powdered sugar, vanilla, and salt to the butter and mix well.
- Slowly work the flour into the butter mixture.
- Add chopped pecans combine thoroughly.
- Place dough in the refrigerator for around 30 minutes before baking.
- Roll dough into a long thin (thick pencil sized) strand, cut strand into 2-inch sections
- Alternately take a small amount of dough and roll into a 2-inch tube.
- Place 2-inch section on an ungreased cookie sheet and pull end together to form a crescent.
- Bake for 12 to 15 minutes until delicately brown
- Cool on a wire rack, then dust with powdered sugar.
If you are making Russian Tea Cakes, Mexican Wedding Cakes, or Greek Kourabiedes, you roll the dough into a round ball for baking.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 124Total Fat: 9gSaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 14mgSodium: 102mgCarbohydrates: 11gFiber: 1gSugar: 5gProtein: 1g
Nutritional Information is an estimate and will vary depending on the specific ingredients used