½ pounds unsalted butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup sugar – ¼ teaspoon salt
2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1 ½ - 2 inches vanilla bean
1 ¼ cups ground unblanched almonds
1 ½ - 2 cups confectioners’ sugar
Cream the butter and sugar together by beating them against the sides of a bowl with a wooden spoon or with an electric mixer set at medium speed until light and fluffy. Beat in the flour ½ cup at a time, then add the almonds, vanilla extract and salt, continuing to beat until the mixture becomes a slightly stiff dough,. Shape the dough into a ball, wrap it in wax paper or plastic wrap and refrigerate it for about an hour. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly butter two 12-by15-inch baking sheets.
Pinch off walnut-sized pieces of the chilled dough and place them on a floured board; roll each one into a strip an inch wide and ½ inch thick. This will make it about 2 ½ inches long. Shape each piece into a crescent by bending it into a semicircle.
Arrange the crescents at least ½ inch apart in the baking sheets. Bake in the middle of the oven for 15 or 20 minutes, or until lightly colored.
While crescents are baking, combine confectioners’ sugar with vanilla bean.
Note: If vanilla bean is not available, use 2-3 tablespoons concentrated vanilla sugar combined with confectioners’ sugar.
Remove the sheets from the oven and leave the crescents on them to cool for about 5 minutes. When slightly cool, gently put several crescents in prepared sugar-vanilla mixture, cover them with it, and transfer to a plate. When completely cool, store crescents in an airtight container. If kept in a cool place, they will keep fresh for many weeks – if they last that long!
Makes 36 crescents.
Zimtsterne (Cinnamon Stars)
2 egg whites
¼ teaspoon salt
9 oz. sugar
1 ½ tablespoon ground cinnamon
½ tablespoon lemon juice
12.5 oz. ground almonds
5 oz. confectioners’ sugar
2-3 tablespoons water
Whip the egg whites together with salt until foamy. Add the sugar and whip until stiff. Add cinnamon, lemon juice, and almonds and combine the dough well. Roll out dough to ¼-inch thickness and cut cookies using a starshaped cutter. Place the individual cookies 2 inches apart on sheet pan. Place the individual cookies 2 inches apart on sheet pan. Bake in the middle of the preheated oven at 500°F. for approx. 3-5 minutes or until the cookies are brown in color.
While cookies are baking, stir together confectioners’ sugar and water for the glaze. Immediately remove cookies from the hot pan and set aside to cool down a little bit. While still warm, glaze them.
Makes 50 cookies, depending on size of cutter.
Kokosbusserl (Coconut Kisses)
5 egg whites
2 ½ cups coconut flakes
3 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
1 ½ cups confectioners’ sugar
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour.
Preheat oven to 360 degrees. Whip the egg whites until foamy. Add the sugar and whip until foamy. Add the sugar and whip until stiff but not dry. Fold in the confectioner’ sugar, coconut and lemon zest. Place in a double boiler or in a metal bowl over barely simmering water. Stir constantly until the mixture is hot. Stir in the flour.
Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Using heaping teaspoons full of the batter, spoon the cookies onto the baking sheets, placing them 2 inches apart. Bake until the cookies are golden brown, about 15 minutes.
Transfer to a rack to cool.
Makes 30 cookies.