Czech Crescent Cookies (Vanilkové Rohlíčky)

These vanilla-walnut-butter crescent cookies are perhaps my childhood favorite. Every Christmas our family would get to work in the kitchen, making these and at least four other types of traditional Czech cookies. Generous amounts of butter and a healthy coating of powdered sugar result in a melt-in-your-mouth treat.

This recipe was my grandmother’s. It is translated here.

A few tips I can share:

  • Take care when rolling these out; you don’t want to overwork them due to the amount of butter. You have to get the shape right the first time; if you work them more than once they will become almost too soft to handle.
  • Keep extra dough in the fridge while you shape portions of the dough into cookies.
  • Watch the cookies closely when baking – they can burn easily due to the butter content!
  • They are also extraordinarily delicate after they are baked. You will lose a few to broken pieces while tossing them in powdered sugar. There is no way around it. But don’t fret – it’s a good excuse to sample as you go!

Ingredients

  • 100 g walnuts, grated
  • 70 g superfine (caster) sugar
  • 200 g flour
  • 210 g butter from the fridge
  • zest from 1 lemon
  • powdered sugar for dusting

Directions

  1. Measure out the walnuts, and grate in a nut grinder.
  2. Add all the ingredients to a bowl, stir and combine by hand. It will take some time to break up the butter and blend enough for the dough to come together. It should be cohesive, but not very sticky.
  3. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator overnight.
  4. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Prepare a baking sheet with parchment, or coat with butter and flour.
  5. Remove the dough from the fridge, cut a portion of dough away, and return the remainder to the fridge to keep cool. Roll a chunk of dough (about a handful) by hand into a long, slender log. Cut the log into cookie-sized bits. Take one section, and with a few quick rolls again by hand, form each into a crescent. Place on a prepared baking sheet.
  6. Bake at 350F for 13-15 minutes depending on your oven. Watch closely and pay attention to the smell in your kitchen, making sure they don’t burn. They should only start to look very subtly toasted.
  7. Remove from the oven and let cool about 10 minutes. Gently toss each cookie in a bowl filled with confectioners sugar.
Cookies before the toss in powdered sugar

Store in an airtight container. They won’t last very long!

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