Every year, my mother would make walnut crescents as part of her annual Christmas baking repertoire - a formidable collection of recipes. She had her own recipe which I'm pretty sure she made up every year, but Mum likes to use this one now, which is from Nigella Lawson's book 'Feast'. I feel bad reproducing a recipe with only the slightest of tweaks, but they honestly taste identical to her original version. Everybody knows how much I love nuts and these are THE ULTIMATE - melt-in-your-mouth, impossibly delicate and moreish walnut crescents. Despite their Christmassy epithet, at a time like this, they’re a necessary and very welcome comfort. I can’t even stress how much everyone needs to try these! Especially if you need a little something with your morning coffee.
Makes 48 - double the original recipe. Because you should give some away to your neighbours! (but halve it if you don't want to make so many)
300g / 2½ cups shelled walnuts (as fresh as you can manage. I use these ones in the UK, which you can get from Sainsburys too)
60g / ⅔ cup icing sugar, plus more for dusting
250g soft, lightly-salted butter
180g / 1¾ cup plain flour
Preheat the oven to 170°C. First, lightly toast the walnuts in a dry frying pan over a medium heat for a few minutes - they should emit a nutty aroma but be careful that they don't catch and burn once they release their oils!
In a food processor, blitz the nuts until they're ground, but don't accidentally make walnut butter, like I once did! They should be slightly coarse. Remove the nuts from the food processor and set aside. Add the butter and icing sugar to the food processor and blitz until creamy, then add the flour and salt and process again. Finally, add the nuts and process to a soft dough. It will be sticky, so the next job is to pop it in clingfilm or a covered bowl and let it firm up a bit in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
Gather a small walnut-sized lump of dough and shape it in to a sausage, then bend it around a bit to form a crescent. Place it on a lined baking sheet and repeat! Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until pale gold on top. They'll be really soft, so cool them a bit before moving them to a cooling rack. Once you have, sift over a generous layer of icing sugar! I store these in containers with a sheet of baking paper in between layers. And they're lovely straight from the fridge, too!
I'm pretty sure these would work with almonds, pecans or hazelnuts, too!