In 1960, my oldest daughter was in the first grade at old St. Rose school in the East End of Cincinnati.  The three or four block area where we lived was like a small town with little shops, the water works, the gas works, St. Rose church and school and great ethnic diversity.  There were a lot of German, Hungarian and Austrian folks in the neighborhood – hard working with meticulously clean houses and in every one of those homes, there were tins and tins of baked cookies stashed away for the holidays.

At our December PTA meeting, held in a very chilly basement of the church, the ladies brought in tins of cookies for a treat – each tin different according to the woman’s background.  Each lady passed her open tin among the other guests and took great pride in her baking and decorating.

There were so many delicious varieties – Spritz, butter cookies, gingerbread –  but the Austrian Crescent cookie was my favorite.

Those little morsels were buttery, full of ground walnuts, and coated with powdered sugar – heaven.

In later years, they became my oldest son’s favorite as well, so I make sure I have some every year for him to take home and enjoy.

AUSTRIAN CRESCENTS

  • Servings: 2-1/2 to 3 doz. cookies, depending on size
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  • 1/2 cup butter (not margarine)
  • 6 Tblsp. granulated sugar
  • 1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup ground walnuts
  • Dash of salt
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • Powdered/confectioners’ sugar for coating

Preheat oven to 325 degrees

Cream butter and sugar.  Mix in flour, walnuts, salt and vanilla.  Roll into balls about 1″ in diameter and then form the balls into crescents (about 1/4″ thick).  Place on an ungreased cookie sheet, allowing 1″ of space between each cookie.

Bake at 325 degrees F for 8-10 minutes.  My son likes them crispy brown, so I bake his a few minutes longer.  Cool slightly on a rack and placing the rack over a baking pan, use a sieve/strainer to sprinkle powdered sugar over the cookies while they are still warm.

Yield:  2-1/2 to 3 dozen cookies, depending on size. 

I like to serve the cookies on plates purchased on a trip to Austria in December of 1990.  I don’t know that these cookies are as good as those made almost 50 years ago by a lovely Austrian housewife, but they come close.