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These easy Almond Crescent Cookies are crumbly, tender cookies flavored with vanilla and a hint of cardamom. I’ve coated these traditional Italian Christmas cookies in a vanilla bean powdered sugar for extra flavor.
These crescent cookies are one of the first cookies we learned how to make in pastry school. Our instructor was Austrian and he had very strong opinions about how they should be shaped. I’ll teach you how to make flavorful, delicate, and perfectly shaped crescents.
These almond crescent cookies have that crumbly, tender texture that you’d expect from an Italian cookie and a delightfully unexpected coating of vanilla bean powdered sugar. Would it even be Christmas without a gentle but comprehensive dusting of powdered sugar all over your favorite Christmas sweater? I think not.
For more Christmas cookies coated in powdered sugar try these chocolate crinkle cookies or their cousins, Christmas crinkle cookies! You also can’t go wrong with snowball cookies, pfeffernüsse or these easy no bake gingersnap brandy balls. Let it snow!
Table of Contents
Why You Will Love the Almond Crescent Cookies
- Tender, delicate cookies. These cookies have a similar texture to Scottish shortbread and Mexican wedding cookies. They are crumbly, buttery and almost melt in your mouth.
- Cardamom adds a unique twist. The cardamom is optional but it combines with the almond and vanilla for an exceptional flavor! If you don’t enjoy cardamom, simply omit it!
- These crescents won’t spread or open up. This is a professional recipe that makes fat, well-shaped crescent moon cookies. I’ll show you the proper technique for rolling and shaping so your cookies look better than store-bought!
- Flavor improves over time. Don’t you love a good make-ahead cookie that actually improves as it sits! These cookies get better on day 2! The flavors meld, they soften slightly and the texture is even more delicate!
Professional Tips for Making Crescent Cookies
- Chill the dough for cookies that don’t spread. For the best shape, you must chill the dough. I either refrigerate the dough in a flattened disk or rolled into a rope for fast chilling that is easy to portion.
- Shape into balls first. The proper way to shape crescents so they stay fat with little curved tails, is to roll them into balls first. Then slightly taper the ends with your hands, rolling like you would a rolling pin.
- Use the cut-in method of mixing. Using the cut-in method of mixing is not only easy but also produces a nice shortbread-like texture with a generous amount of butter!
- All Purpose Flour: Plain all-purpose flour has just enough gluten to help these cookies stay fat and tall when baked without being tough.
- Unsalted Butter: You can also use salted butter and omit the kosher salt below.
- Almond Flour: I use almond flour (sometimes called almond meal) for easy but you could also finely chop whole almonds.
- Cardamom: I love the flavor of freshly ground cardamom seeds, but you could also use store-bought ground cardamom. Simply omit if you don’t love the flavor. If you do, then you must try these cardamom walnut snowballs, ice box cookies or these chewy browned butter cardamom snickerdoodles. They are AMAZING!
- Powdered Sugar: Powdered sugar or confectioner’s sugar makes for a super tender and crumbly cookie. It is also used for coating the cookies, which adds welcome sweetness. The cookies themselves are not very sweet.
- Kosher Salt
- Vanilla Extract
- Vanilla Bean: I flavor the coating powdered sugar with a spent vanilla bean pod. This is optional but a nice way to use the pod left over from a recipe that only calls for the seeds like vanilla bean marshmallows or orange financiers.
See the recipe card for full information on ingredients and quantities.
Variations & Substitutions
- Nuts: There are so many things you can do with these versatile cookies! Try hazelnut flour instead of almond flour, like in my Flourless Chocolate Torte. Finely chop whole, toasted nuts for more texture and a different flavor.
- Cinnamon spice & everything nice: Try adding a variety of spices to change the flavor. Pumpkin spice mix, apple pie spice, cinnamon or even a grate of fresh ginger could be fun. Zest in a little orange or lemon zest before mixing.
- Chocolate dipped: Dip half the cookies in melted chocolate for a delicious chocolate dipped almond crescent cookie! You could also dip them in a simple glaze made from milk and icing sugar.
- Gluten free: You can make this recipe using 100% almond flour and omit the all-purpose flour. They will spread more but will still taste lovely. I haven’t tried with a gluten-free flour substitute but I believe they would work.
How to Make Almond Crescent Cookies
Further details, a video tutorial and measurements can be found in the recipe card below.
Make the dough:
Step 1: At least several hours ahead of time but up to several months, put the spent vanilla bean in a sealed container with the confectioner’s sugar. The longer it sits, the better! This is optional but adds a wonderful flavor.
Step 2: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine flour, butter, almond flour, ½ cup confectioner’s sugar, kosher salt and vanilla extract. Cut in on low speed until a dough forms.
Step 3: Flatten into a disk or roll into ropes approximately 1 inch in diameter. Wrap and chill 2 hours or until firm.
There is a lot of butter in this dough in proportion to the flour and sugar, which is what gives it that wonderful crumbly, yet tender texture, but that also means the butter needs to firm up or the cookies will spread unattractively.
Shape & bake:
Step 4: Divide into 20g pieces or approximately the size of a walnut. Roll into balls.
Step 5: Roll each piece into a rope approximately 2 inches long keeping the center fatter.
Step 6: Curl into a crescent shape and place 1 inch apart on a parchment lined sheet pan. Chill for another 10-30 minutes depending on how warm the dough got.
A shaping summary: Roll each piece into a ball, then a rope that is fat in the center, then simply curl the ends in towards each other for the perfect crescent shape.
Step 7: Preheat oven to 325°F convection or 350°F conventional while the dough refrigerates.
Step 8: Bake until center puffs and starts to crack, approximately 12 minutes. The ends will begin to turn golden brown.
Step 9: Allow to cool 10 minutes then toss in sugar mixture.
Chef Lindsey’s Recipe Tip
Dipping the cookies while still a little warm encourages the sugar to melt into the cookie, which adds a little sweetness. For the full coating, as pictured, you must dip them again once cool.
Frequently Asked Questions
Store in a sealed container at room temperature for two weeks or frozen for up to 3 months. If storing for longer than 3 days, consider tossing them in a fresh coat of powdered sugar before serving for a refreshed appearance.
Crescent cookies are excellent for shipping and gifting because they are not too fragile and they stay fresh for 2 weeks!
There is a high proportion of butter to flour in this recipe, which will cause the cookies to spread if not properly chilled prior to baking.
If you tried this recipe and loved it please leave a 🌟 star rating and let me know how it goes in the comments below. I love hearing from you; your comments make my day!
Almond Crescent Cookies
- At least several hours ahead of time but up to several months, put the spent vanilla bean in a sealed container with the confectioner’s sugar. The longer it sits, the better!
- Combine flour, butter, almond flour, ½ cup confectioner’s sugar, salt and vanilla extract. Cut in on low with the paddle until a dough forms. Chill 2 hours or until firm.
- Divide into 20g pieces or pieces approximately the size of a walnut. Roll into ball and then roll out into a rope approximately 2 inches long keeping the center fatter. Curl into a crescent shape and place 1 inch apart on a parchment lined sheet pan. Chill 10-30 minutes or until firm.
- Bake 325°F convection until center puffs and starts to crack. The ends will begin to turn golden brown. Allow to cool 10 minutes then toss in sugar mixture.
Before You Go
I hope you enjoyed this professional chef tested recipe. Check out more easy Christmas cookie recipes or peruse the 24 best Christmas cookies for your festivities this year! You could also continue the Italian cookie trend with pizzelle, pignoli cookies, or the best chocolate biscotti!