This is a recipe that my Nana made for me every year around the holidays. A few years ago, I was lucky enough to find the recipe written out in her handwriting on an index card.
After doing a little digging, I discovered that this beloved recipe actually came from the Fannie Farmer Cookbook, that treasure trove of classic American favorites. To adapt the recipe to my adult taste, I made it gluten free and added some spices, and thus a new classic was born.
These cookies are light and crumbly, and full of rich flavor from the butter, nuts, and spices. You make them just as you would the standard recipe, but the flour is replaced with chickpea flour.
The classic version of the recipe doesn’t call for any spices, but I’m a spice lover, so I added a teaspoon each of cardamom and cinnamon to this version, as well as half a teaspoon salt to bump up the intensity of the flavor.
Other spices that could work well in these cookies include cocoa powder, nutmeg, and allspice.
Easy to assemble, these cookies require some simple shaping before they go into the oven. Take a tablespoon of the dough and roll it into a ball. You can stop here if you like, and you’ll have what’s called Mexican Wedding Cookies!
Or, keep going and roll the cookies out into a crescent. It’s up to you.
Once the cookies are assembled, I recommend chilling them in the refrigerator for about half an hour to prevent them from spreading when they bake.
The trick to giving the cookies an even coat of powdered sugar is to coat them in it twice.
The first time is after they come out of the oven: as soon as they are cool enough to handle, they should be rolled and coated in the sugar. Then, after the cookies are completely cool, they get a second, “sealer” coat. The extra work is worth it, because they’ll look really pretty.
Viennese Crescent Cookies
Makes about 32 cookies
3 cups confectioner’s sugar
2 cups chickpea (garbanzo bean) flour
1 cup ground almonds or nuts
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. cardamom
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 cup butter
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1. Grease a baking sheet and line it with parchment paper. Place the confectioner’s sugar in a large, shallow bowl. In another large bowl, whisk together the flour, ground almonds, spices, and salt.
2. In a separate bowl, cream together the butter, granulated sugar, and vanilla. Add the flour mixture in two or three batches and mix well.
3. Take a tablespoonful of the dough and shape it into a ball. Roll the ball out to a length of about two inches, then delicately bend it into a crescent. Place the cookies on the prepared baking sheet.
4. Place the trays of cookies in the refrigerator, and chill the dough for 30 minutes. While the cookies are chilling, preheat the over to 300 F.
5. Bake the cookies for 25 to 35 minutes, or when they are golden on the bottom. As soon as they’re cool enough to handle, roll the cookies in the confectioner’s sugar.
6. Cool completely, then roll the cookies in the sugar a second time. Store in an airtight container for up to one week.
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