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German Almond Crescent Cookies

Mandelsichel, traditional German almond cookies, are simple shortbread cookies enriched with almond meal and shaped into a crescent, like many classic baked goods in Europe, which are said to emulate the Ottoman half-moon and celebrate the empire’s greatness when the bakes were first developed. These cookies are a delightful treat at tea time and beautiful addition to any Plätzchenteller (cookie platter) during Advent and all through the Christmas and holiday season. Sometimes made on Christmas Eve, these cookies are left as a special treat for Santa Claus.

The key flavor in these cookies is from the almond meal. You can buy almond meal or flour at your local natural foods store or well-stocked grocery or make your own. Optional almond extract enhances the flavor, and the cinnamon adds a nice complementary warming spice to the nutty almonds. Make bigger batches to give as gifts or store in an airtight container for up to three weeks.

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar

  • 1 cup butter, softened, room temperature

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract, optional

  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon, optional

  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

  • cup blanched almonds, ground (or 1 cup almond meal)

  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

  • Powdered sugar (or granulated vanilla sugar), for dusting, garnish

    Steps to Make It

    1. Gather the ingredients. Preheat the oven to 350 F.

      German Almond Crescent Cookies ingredients
    2. In a medium bowl, with the help of a hand whisk or standing mixer, cream the powdered sugar and butter until the mixture is fluffy.

      In a medium bowl cream the powdered sugar and butter
    3. Add the vanilla, and the almond extract and cinnamon if using. Mix well.

      Add the vanilla, the almond extract and cinnamon to the butter mixture
    4. Add the salt. Combine thoroughly.

      add salt to the butter mixture
    5. With the help of a spatula, mix in the almond meal and flour.

      mix the almond meal and flour into the butter mixture
    6. Using your hands, knead the mixture, which should be stiff and hard to work with.

      knead the dough mixture
    7. On a lightly floured board or other work surface and with a well-floured rolling pin, roll out the dough to about 1/2-inch thick

      roll out dough on a floured surface
    8. Cut a circle with a biscuit cutter or round glass.

      Cut a circle with a glass
    9. Move the glass or cutter over about 1 inch or more and cut another circle, which will result in two crescent shapes and an oval shape in the middle.

      Move the glass or cutter over about 1 inch or more and cut another circle
    10. Reuse the oval scraps, knead them, and roll out the dough again to cut more crescents or bake the ovals as they are if you’d prefer. Repeat the process until you’ve used all of the dough.

      combine the leftover dough and roll it out
    11. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

      Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper
    12. Place the crescents on the prepared baking sheet and bake for about 15 minutes. The edges of the cookies should just be golden; keep an eye on the cookies as they brown fast and what you want is a pale and just-baked consistency through.

      cookies on parchment paper
    13. Remove the cookies from the oven and, while still warm, dust them with powdered sugar or vanilla sugar and place on a rack to cool completely. As they cool the consistency and bite will change.

      German Almond Crescent Cookies on a cooling rack

 

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