Candied Orange and Pistachio Crescents

These elegant little gems are from this month’s Gourmet magazine. They are so perfect for a Christmas cookie plate! There were a zillion cookie recipes in this issue of the magazine, but for some reason none of them sounded that good to me. It was weird. Until I spied these. So elegant! Like little snow covered moons!

This dough was a revelation. So easy to work with and flaky and delicious. I have been thinking about filling these crescents with a variety of fillings. Some raspberry jam, some sort of almond deliciousness…the possibilities are endless. Well, maybe not endless, but you know what I mean. These were much better the next day, which is saying a lot because they were very good on the day I made them. But make them a day early if possible. Or just eat them everyday for a week if you are like me and don’t want to share them. They also are surprisingly resilient. They definitely can survive a trip in your backpack to a friend’s house.

Candied Orange and Pistachio Crescents (Gourmet, December 2008)

For sweet pastry dough

  • 2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 sticks cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons ice water

For filling

  • 1 large navel orange
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped pistachios (2 1/4 oz)
  • About 1 cup confectioners sugar

Make dough:

  • Whisk together flour, sugar, and salt in a large bowl (or pulse in a food processor). Blend in butter with your fingertips or a pastry blender (or pulse) until mixture resembles coarse meal with some roughly pea-size butter lumps. Beat together yolks and 3 tablespoons ice water with a fork and stir into flour (or pulse) until incorporated.
  • Gently squeeze a small handful of dough: If it doesn’t hold together, stir (or pulse) in 1 tablespoon more water. Do not overwork dough or pastry will be tough.
  • Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface and divide into 8 portions. With heel of your hand, smear each portion once in a forward motion to help distribute fat. Gather dough together and divide in half. Form each half into a 4-inch square. Wrap each in plastic wrap and chill until firm, at least 1 hour.

Make filling:

  • Cut off peel, including white pith, from orange with a sharp knife and finely chop. (Reserve fruit for another use.) Put peel in a 2-quart heavy saucepan, then fill with water. Add salt and bring to a boil, then boil, uncovered, 10 minutes. Drain in a fine-mesh sieve.
  • Bring granulated sugar and water (3/4 cup) to a boil in saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring until sugar has dissolved, then wash down any sugar crystals from side of pan with a pastry brush dipped in cold water. Add peel to syrup. Gently simmer, uncovered, until peel begins to turn translucent and syrup is reduced to about 2/3 cup, 20 to 30 minutes.
  • Drain peel in fine-mesh sieve set over a bowl, reserving 3 tablespoons syrup. Stir together peel, reserved syrup, and pistachios. Cool to room temperature.

Make cookies:

  • Preheat oven to 375°F with rack in middle. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • Roll out 1 piece of dough on a floured surface with a floured rolling pin into a 15- by 12-inch rectangle. Cut out 16 to 20 rounds with cookie cutter.
  • Put a scant teaspoon filling on each round, then brush edge lightly with water and fold pastry over filling to form a half-moon. Press edges to seal. Shape each into a crescent by pushing a finger against middle of flat side.
  • Bake 1 inch apart on baking sheet until golden, 15 to 20 minutes. Transfer cookies on parchment to a rack to cool 2 minutes. Toss warm cookies, a few at a time, in confectioners sugar to coat generously. Cool completely.
  • Repeat with remaining dough (cool baking sheet and line with fresh parchment). Reroll scraps once for extra cookies if desired.

***Dough can be chilled up to 1 day or frozen 2 weeks. Thaw in refrigerator.

***This made 24 cookies for me, without rerolling scraps. (I ran out of time!) If you reroll the scraps I think you could easily get 3 dozen cookies.

11 comments to “Candied Orange and Pistachio Crescents”

  1. These look delicious. I am already brainstorming possible fillings…hazelnuts and nutella perhaps? Beautiful Post!

  2. I can see why you fell for them! They look fantastic! Just added to my cookie list… right now. Thank you!

  3. Hayley- Thanks, Nutella would be really nice!
    Jesse- I think you’ll be glad you made them. I’m going to try another batch this weekend!

  4. i love that these are filled cookies! beautiful.

  5. Your pastry recipe’s instructions mentions yolks, but none are listed in the ingredients. How many should be used?

  6. Alan, Thanks so much for catching that. It is fixed now.

  7. These sound wonderful, and they look so delicate, it’s great that they’re pretty sturdy too! I’ve been meaning to try my hand at candying orange for a while now. Maybe this should be my excuse.

  8. Just found your blog (via smittenkitchen) and wanted to compliment you on it and also on your wisdom in choosing among the Gourmet cookie recipes. I opted for the chocolate hazelnut ones, but am wishing I’d made these instead.

  9. Thanks Amy! I was so excited when that Gourmet arrived in the mail and then sort of underwhelmed by the recipes I found. Although, these were amazing so I guess I shouldn’t complain. In any case, welcome and thanks!
    And Hanne- yes, use these as an excuse.

  10. why not adding some orange instead of(or additionally to) pell and syrup
    it can make these cookies more interesting, m?

  11. Hi Ira- I would not do that because it will add too much liquid to the filling, and also because cooked orange doesn’t taste very good to me.

What do you think?