Viennese crescent cookies are a tradition in Austria. They’re made with hazelnuts, shaped like a half-moon, and dusted with confectioners’ sugar. One nibble and we think you’ll understand why they’re a classic.
*How to remove the skins from hazelnuts
You can often purchase hazelnuts with the papery skins already removed. However, if that’s not an option, we’ve got a couple ways to DIY. Those skins can be a little tricky and sticky to remove, but these approaches help rid your hazelnuts of almost all of that dark outer covering.
Rub the Hazelnuts
If your recipe calls for toasted hazelnuts and you don’t mind a few specks of skin still stuck to the nuts, simply dump the hazelnuts on a rimmed baking sheet and toast in a 350°F (180°C) oven for about 10 minutes until the hazelnuts are pale golden and barely fragrant. Watch them closely as they can quickly go from not quite done to scorched and bitter in a matter of seconds. Immediately dump the hazelnuts onto a clean kitchen towel, fold the ends over the hazelnuts, and let them rest for about 10 minutes. Then use your hands to vigorously rub the nuts, still inside the towel, against one another. This will take off most, but not all, of the skins.
Blanch the Hazelnuts
Alice Medrich shared this nifty trick with Julia Child years ago and it’s a keeper. You blanch, or quickly dunk in boiling water, the hazelnuts. But you want to add some baking soda to the water. Use 2 cups boiling water and 3 tablespoons baking soda. Toss in the hazelnuts and boil for 3 minutes. The water may turn dark. Don’t freak out. Pour the hazelnuts and their boiling water into a colander placed in the sink and rinse under cool running water. The skins should slip right off.
Viennese Crescent Cookies
- Quick Glance
- 45 M
- 4 H
- Makes 48 cookies
- For the vanilla confectioners' sugar (for coating)
- For the crescents
In an airtight container, combine the confectioners’ sugar and vanilla bean and let stand, covered, for at least 24 hours. Sift before using. (The vanilla sugar will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to several months.)
In a food processor or high-powered blender, pulse together the flour, 1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar, salt, and hazelnuts until the nuts are finely ground, about 30 seconds. Add the butter and pulse just until a dough forms. If the dough is crumbly, you may need to pulse it a little longer until it forms a dough. Turn the dough onto your work surface and and gently form it into a ball and then flatten it into a disk. Wrap it in plastic wrap or wax paper and refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to 24 hours.
Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). Adjust the oven rack to the center of the oven.
Roll level tablespoons of dough (about 18 grams) into balls. Then roll each ball on a smooth surface into a 3-inch log with slightly tapered ends. Bend each log to form crescents and arrange them about 1 inch apart on baking sheets.
Bake the cookies until the edges are pale golden, 12 to 15 minutes.
Transfer to a wire rack to cool slightly, about 2 minutes.
Sift enough vanilla confectioners’ sugar onto a rimmed baking sheet to cover the bottom.
Carefully transfer the slightly cooled baked crescent cookies to the sugared baking sheet and sprinkle with enough sugar to coat completely. Transfer the crescents to wire racks to cool completely. (The cookies keep, layered between sheets of wax or parchment paper, in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days.) Originally published October 1, 2006.
Recipe Testers' Reviews
These are very delicate cookies that are easy to make. They're buttery, light, and truly "melt in your mouth." I have made these before using other recipes but the vanilla sugar adds a flavor that cookies made from other recipes do not have. They are similar but not nearly this good.
These little Viennese vanilla crescents are the real thing. When I served them to my German friend, she said, "These bring me back to my childhood. These are just what my mother made. And they were served all over Germany and Austria and always made with hazelnuts."
This is a dry cookie, like a shortbread. Not too sweet but with the pleasant flavor of hazelnut permeating the cookie. I found the cold dough a bit hard to work with but once I let it warm a bit, it was much easier for me to roll into a log. However, it didn't work for me to roll it on a smooth surface, I needed to roll it between my hands.
I baked the cookies for 14 minutes, cooled for 2 minutes, then coated them with the vanilla infused confectioners' sugar. The cookies moistened as they sat. After a day, they needed to have more confectioners' sugar put on them. The taste of the hazelnuts became more pronounced as the cookies sat.
I was able to make 60 cookies.