‘Tis the season! So, I have a whole bunch of baked goodies planned for the next three weeks, starting with Lemon Crescent Cookies.
Popular around Christmas time, these traditional, sweet, crescent-shaped cookies originated in Austria. That’s why they are also called Viennese Crescent Cookies or Vanillekipferl.
If you are a beginner in the cookie baking world, this recipe is the best place to start. There is no fuss. They are no fancy ingredients, and in less than 45 minutes, you have delicate, snow-dusted, buttery cookies ready to melt in your mouth.
How to make lemon crescent cookies from scratch?
The texture of crescent cookies is like shortbread – gorgeously crumbly – and the taste is as delicious as their appearance. The nutty almond and the zing of lemon creates a perfect fusion of flavors. So, dive in without a worry.
- Start with beating icing sugar and butter till they are creamy and smooth.
- Add in all-purpose flour, finely chopped almonds, and lemon zest. Throw in a pinch of nutmeg and cinnamon. The aromatics intensify the flavor.
- Mix till all the ingredients form a soft dough. You may need to add a splash of milk if the dough seems a bit dry-ish.
If your dough is too soft or melting, I advise popping it in the fridge for some time. This is a crucial step. It’ll firm up the dough and make it more manageable. It’s chilly and nippy where I live, so I didn’t need to cool the dough.
Baking the lemon crescent cookies
Once your dough is firm enough to handle:
- Divide it into equal portions.
- Then working with each portion, shape it into a crescent using your hands.
- Roll the dough into a short rope and then curve the ends slightly to get that half-moon shape.
- Slide the shaped dough in the oven and bake for 12 to 14 minutes.
For me, 12 minutes did the trick because I like my cookies lightly golden and with a softer bite. If you prefer crispier cookies, bake for a couple of minutes more. Although, do keep in mind that cookies firm up as they cool.
After you take the cookies out of the oven, let them cool a bit. When they are still slightly warm, dust them with icing sugar. The heat will allow the sugar to stick.
Variations of the lemon crescent cookies
This is the fastest and easiest cookie recipe ever, which is why they’re not much variations you can try.
How to make gluten-free crescent cookies?
Switch the all-purpose flour with buckwheat flour to make gluten-free cookies. Also, increase the amount of butter if you use buckwheat.
What to use instead of lemon zest?
If you don’t have lemon zest, pure lemon extract will work wonders. The amount of extract you add should always be lesser than the zest.
You can forgo both lemon zest and extract. Try almond extract to make the cookies nuttier and more almondy.
Zest of an orange too will be so wonderful here.
Can I use a different nut?
Yes, of course.
Replace almonds with walnuts. But make sure they’re finely chopped too. You want a slight texture from the nuts, not big chunks in the mouth.
How to make vegan crescent cookies?
Since the recipe is eggless, all you have to do is substitute the butter with chilled coconut oil or any plant-based butter to make vegan cookies.
Serving the lemon crescent cookies
The crescent cookies make for the prettiest petit fours. You can also enjoy them with a cup of tea or hot chocolate; just let them cool off completely before you dig in.
Lemon crescent cookies keep really well, look elegant, and pack a triple punch of flavors – bright lemon coated in nutty almond, enveloping the winter cinnamon-nutmeg combo. I recommend packing them in a tin and giving them as an edible Christmas gift.
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Lemon Crescent Cookies
- 3/4 cup ( 150 gms) Butter softened
- 1/2 cup ( 50 gms) Icing sugar
- 2 cups ( 250 gms) All-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup Almonds, finely chopped
- 1 tsp Cinnamon powder
- 1/4 tsp Nutmeg powder
- 1 tsp Lemon zest
- 2-3 tbsp Milk, optional
- 2-3 tbsp Icing sugar
- Preheat your oven to 180C. Line your baking tray with parchment paper or Silpat.
- In a large bowl, beat the softened butter and icing sugar until light and fluffy.
- Stir in the flour, chopped almonds, cinnamon powder, nutmeg, and lemon zest. Use your hands to bring it together into a dough.
- You may need to add some milk, if the dough seems too dry.
- If your dough feels too soft at this point, pop it in the refrigerator for a few minutes, until it firms up.
- Divide the dough into equal portions.
- Working with each portion, shape it into a crescent using your hands – Roll the dough into a short rope and then curve the ends slightly to get that half-moon shape.
- Place on the prepared baking tray and bake for 12-14 minutes. For me, 12 minutes worked well. If you want a crispier cookie, bake for another 2-3 minutes.
- Cool the cookies slightly, then roll the warm cookies in icing sugar. Let cool completely on a wire rack. Enjoy with a cup of coffee, tea, or hot cocoa!