Burgenland Crescent Cookies are an old, traditional recipe from my mother-in-law’s family. She’s from the Austrian province of Burgenland, the easternmost sliver of Austria bordering Hungary. Burgenland is famous for its pastries and cookies, many of which my mother-in-law grew up baking.
I must confess to never having baked Burgenland Crescent Cookies myself. My husband bakes them every year for Christmas and he does such a good job, why would I take over? His other specialty is Vanilla Crescent Cookies. But you don’t have to wait until Christmas to enjoy Burgenland Crescents – The relatives in Burgenland bake them all year round, for weddings and when family from Graz comes to visit. 🙂
Burgenland Crescent Cookies are an exceptional pastry but aren’t complicated to make. The cold, yeasted cookie dough is rolled out and spread with meringue, topped with finely chopped walnuts then rolled into a strudel, which is cut into crescent-shaped cookies (half-moons) using a round cookie cutter or drinking glass. While these little pastries are simply sublime in taste and texture – tender and melt-in-your-mouth – they are not the prettiest cookies on the platter. (Sorry, Honey!) The meringue filling oozes out when you cut the strudel into cookies but that’s how they’re supposed to be and that’s what makes them delicious.
Burgenland Crescent Cookies (Burgenländer Kipferl)
- 2 ¾ cup (400 g) flour
- 8.8 ounces (250 g) cold butter
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 3 egg yolks
- 1 packet dry yeast
- 4 tablespoons milk
- 3 egg whites
- 2 ½ cups (250 g) powdered sugar
- 1 cup (150 g) walnuts ground (finely chopped)
Preheat oven to 320°F (160°C). Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
Cut the butter into small cubes and rub it into the flour and salt (or use a pastry cutter). Dissolve the yeast in the milk and stir in the egg yolks and 2 teaspoons of the powdered sugar then add to the flour and butter and knead everything together until a smooth dough forms. Beat the egg whites with the remaining powdered sugar until stiff.
Divide the dough into three pieces and roll out each of these on a well-floured surface into 1/8 inch (3 mm) thick rectangles. Spread rectangles with the meringue then sprinkle with the nuts. Roll the rectangles lengthwise into a strudel (like a Swiss cake roll). Using a round cookie/doughnut cutter or a drinking glass, cut crescents (half-moons) from the dough rolls and place these on the prepared baking sheets.
Bake for 15-20 minutes until lightly browned. Cool completely and dust with powdered sugar if desired. Cookies keep well stored in an airtight container or cookie tin.