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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.