Cardamom Walnut Crescent Cookies ~ these classic Swedish Christmas cookies are made with a buttery shortbread dough jam packed with walnuts and a hint of warm cardamom ~ every holiday cookie assortment needs a few!
I’m expanding my holiday cookie lineup today with these cardamom walnut crescent cookies. The recipe comes to us via one of my readers, Elaine, from Melbourne Florida. As a loyal follower Elaine knows I adore cardamom, so she sent me a magazine clipping with the recipe for these delicious crescents. I was really excited to try them because I’ve never made anything like them before. These are classic cookies that somehow never made it into our family’s recipe box, so they’re a new discovery for me, even though they’ve been around for generations. Thanks Elaine!
Like so many classic holiday cookies these are a breeze to make. Everything comes together with just a few pulses of a food processor, beginning with the walnuts, cardamom, and sugar, followed by chunks of cold butter, and finally the flour. The dough is beautifully soft and fragrant.
Most Swedish style crescent cookie recipes are very similar when it comes to the ingredients, but each one seems to have a different method for forming the little crescents. This one is easy and logical ~ the first step is to divide the dough into 3 parts and then roll each one into a long skinny log.
After chilling, you simply slice the log into 1 inch segments and form into crescents.
TIP: Elaine’s recipe specified freezing the crescents before baking, but I found it didn’t make much of a difference so I skipped that step. I always like to experiment with a cookie or two to see if certain recipe steps are essential. You can save yourself a lot of trouble if you find they aren’t.
Finally these crescents get their all-important powdered sugar coating. Once again, every recipe has a different rule, some specify coating the cookies warm, others insist they must be completely cooled. I did some experimenting and found it works both ways, so your choice!
How to grind your own cardamom ~
Cardamom is a unique and gorgeously aromatic spice that doesn’t get much play in American recipes. You can find it ground in your supermarket, but, like all spices, it comes in a whole form, too, and when you grind it yourself you take the experience to a whole new level.
- Buy whole (green) cardamom pods, you’ll find them in better grocery stores, gourmet and health food stores, and online.
- Crush them open by rolling over them with a rolling pin to release the little black seeds inside.
- Collect the seeds and discard the pods. Grind the seeds in a spice grinder or coffee grinder. My trusty coffee grinder has been serving me well for decades. I love it.
- Grind as needed for the best, most intense flavor. While you won’t go to the trouble for every recipe, for a holiday cookie like this it’s worth it.
- Do a sniff test, the spoon on the left is bottled cardamom, and the one on the right is freshly ground. No comparison.
These cookies were a huge hit at our house, we especially loved them with coffee, in the morning, or after dinner!
*recipe slightly adapted from Good Housekeeping
Cardamom Walnut Crescent Cookies
- 1 cup walnuts
- 1 tsp ground cardamom
- 3/4 cup confectioner's sugar
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted cold butter, cut in pieces
- 2 tsp vanilla extract you can use 1 tsp almond extract instead if you like
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup confectioner's sugar sifted
- Put the walnuts, cardamom, and sugar in the bowl of a food processor and pulse to combine. Then process until the walnuts are finely ground.
- Add in the pieces of COLD butter and vanilla and pulse/process until the butter is fully incorporated.
- Add the flour and salt, and pulse to combine. Then process just long enough so that the dough comes together. I do a combination of pulsing and processing so everything gets thoroughly mixed, but not over mixed.
- Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and bring it together with floured hands. Divide it into 3 pieces. Roll each piece out into a 1 1/2 inch rope. Wrap in plastic wrap and twist the ends securely. Refrigerate for at least 1 1/2 hours. You can leave the dough logs refrigerated for up to a few days if you want to make them ahead. You can also freeze them.
- Preheat oven to 350F
- Working with one log at a time, (keeping the others refrigerated) cut it into 1 inch pieces, and then form those into crescents with your hands. The original recipe says to freeze the cookies for 20 minutes at this point. FYI ~ I found that didn't make much of a difference so I skipped it. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake for about 12 minutes until the cookies are set but not browned. They should just be beginning to show a little golden color around the edges, but that's it.
- Remove and let the cookies cool on the pan.
- Coat the cookies in powdered sugar after they've cooled. You can also coat them when they are still slightly warm, your choice.
- Cookies will keep for a week in an airtight container at room temperature.
Make it your own ~
- This cookie can be made with other ground nuts besides walnuts ~ try almonds, hazelnuts, or pecans.
- Use a good quality gluten free baking mix like Bob’s Red Mill for a gf version.
- Switch out the cardamom for another warm spices like cinnamon, chai, or pumpkin spice blend.
- Add the seeds of a vanilla bean to the dough.
Don’t forget to pin these Cardamom Walnut Crescent Cookies ~