Pecan Crescent Cookies

We make these pecan crescent cookies every year as a Christmas treat – the melt-in-the-mouth, nutty, crumbly treats will please any crowd. 

Pecan Crescent Cookies

You know a cookie is a classic when every person who tastes one says “Ermahgerd, gramma’s kerkies!” (translation: Oh my god, my grandmother used to make those cookies). Whether your grandmother was Italian, Jewish, Latin American, Scandinavian, or Asgardian, chances are, she made these cookies (Well, not my grandmother, who was a famously terrible cook).

Sometimes it’s just nostalgia that makes us swoon over a taste of the past but in this case, familiarity is unnecessary. These pecan crescent cookies are good. They have a melt-in-your-mouth shortbread-like texture and a lovely deep nuttiness.  It just doesn’t feel like Christmas without them.

Nerd Tips

  • Toast the pecans well, but don’t scorch them. I like to do them in a skillet (medium heat, tossing often, about 5-7 minutes until you can smell a nutty aroma). You can also do them in them oven on a baking sheet (325 degrees F, 10-15 minutes, turn them once).
  • Make sure the dough is fully chilled before shaping the crescents. Also chill them at least 20 minutes after shaping, since they’ll warm up considerably as you handle them.
  • They won’t really change color much in the baking process, but do make sure the very edges turn a light golden brown. 18 minutes might be enough, but don’t be afraid to leave in a few minutes longer if needed.
  • Don’t try to sugar the pecan crescent cookies until they’ve completely cooled (overnight is best) or the sugar will melt. Sometimes I sugar them twice to make them extra perty. If you’re serving to fancy people, you’ll probably want to arrange them using tongs, since fingers will very easily melt the sugar.

Pecan Crescent Cookies

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Hazelnut Praline Cheesecake

Hazelnut Cheesecake with Praline

Hazelnut cheesecake with praline crust is a crowd-pleasing dessert that will make your dinner guests love you until the end of time, or until the end of the cheesecake, whichever comes first. 

I’m pretty sure Matt moved from London to New York mostly for the cheesecake. It is by far his favorite dessert so of course, good wife that I am, I’ve learned to make them.

Actually, funny story, ahem … many years ago, when we were first living together, we tried to make a cheesecake and we totally mis-read the recipe. Instead of 3/4 of a cup of sugar we used 3 cups. 3 friggin’ cups of sugar in one cheesecakeNeither of us had done a lot of baking yet so we didn’t immediately realize how insane that amount is. Needless to say, it was disgustingly sweet and even worse, never even set, remaining a thick, sweet soup that seeped all over our refrigerator. It was truly disgusting (though Matt gave it a go anyway, being a trooper).

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Custard Tart with Pear and Ginger

Custard Tart with Pear and Ginger

We all have our culinary strengths and weaknesses and I freely admit that making pastry is a major weakness of mine. It’s frustrating because I’m really comfortable cooking pretty much anything, but pastry always trips me up. It’s like I see the combination of butter, flour and a rolling pin and I immediately begin to panic and look for the emergency exits.

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Seriously Lemony Lemon Bars

Seriously Lemony Lemon Bars

Would you like some bright tart lemon bars? Yes, I know we’re smack-dab in the middle of Fall and everybody’s hugging their sweaters, walking through crunching leaves and imbibing in pumpkin-spiced everything but this is exactly when I crave bright lemony flavors the most. Don’t get me wrong, I love fall. Halloween is my birthday, for chrissakes, but there’s only so much pumpkin, butternut squash and apple a girl can handle before she starts craving citrus.

As you can probably tell, I really like lemon. And when I eat something that claims to be “lemon”, I want to taste actual tartness, not just sugar that a lemon once sat next to in a grocery aisle. So to these lemon bars (or lemon squares, depending how you slice them).

Seriously Lemony Lemon Bars

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Easy scones

What ho, and all that, spiffing readers. I’m being especially upper-crust because I wanted to tell you about the scones I made a couple of weeks ago. Let’s take a gander at them first. Have a good look, there you go, feast your eyes.

Easy scones

 

Alright, that’s enough. Put your eyes away now.

On our spring trip to the UK, I wanted to take Emily out for a right old afternoon tea, with really nice sandwiches, scones, cream, jam, and all that. (You know, the sort of thing that Americans imagine that we Brits have every day, presumably as a break from striding around our castle grounds and whipping peasants.) We managed to find one at Huffkins in Burford (if you visit their site, do look for the amusing “About Our Employees” section) – all piled up on a proper tiered cake stand.

Anyway, I had picked up a jar of clotted cream at our local health food store last week (just let that sink in for a moment. Clotted cream. Health food store. Hm.) and decided on a whim to make scones. After some cursory research, and quickly realising I didn’t have any buttermilk (a requirement for many recipes) I settled on this version from Rachel Allen. I’ve adapted for US volumes and temperature. You can fuss with biscuit cutters and the like, but I like the country-style triangles simply cut from the dough with a knife.

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Zucchini Cake with Lemon Curd Filling

Zucchini Cake with Lemon Curd Filling

Ok, one more zucchini recipe. I’m not obsessed, I swear, we just have a lot of zucchini growing in the garden. Matt’s sister Hayli made this zucchini cake (AKA courgette cake) for us when we visited her in France (I know you’re feeling SO sorry for us right now) and it was fantastic. Very summery from the lemon curd and the zucchini keeps the cake extremely moist. I adapted it from Nigella Lawson’s How to be a Domestic Goddess. We usually make it with green zucchini which gives the cake delightful green flecks throughout, but we’re growing yellow zucchini so that’s what I’ve used.

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