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This nutty recipe for Almond Crescent Cookies is a nostalgic holiday recipe made with a healthy plant-based twist. These soft, crumbly cookies are made with almond flour and almond butter with a hint of fresh orange flavor. Enjoy this sweet treat as part of your holiday cookie lineup or as a tasty dessert with a warm cup of tea.
Crumbly And Soft Almond Crescent Cookies
There are so many reasons to get excited about the holiday season. One of my favorites is that I get to make endless batches of homemade cookies. I love making new cookies and traditional-style ones like these almond crescent cookies.
These cookies are incredibly easy to make. You will just need a bit of patience to shape them, as they can be a bit crumbly and can easily crack. But your effort will be rewarded by their goodness!
What is an almond crescent cookie?
These cookies have a permanent place in my Christmas cookie box. There are many different versions of this almond shortbread cookie, but this crescent-shaped pastry (Vanillekipferl) originated in Austria around 400 years ago and quickly became popular all over the world. Traditionally, the base is made up of flour, ground walnuts, sugar, and butter. The cookies are shaped into small crescent moons and coated in a layer of sweet vanilla sugar.
This recipe is a twist on the classic almond crescent cookies that contain 100% wholesome vegan ingredients. You won’t even need a butter substitute as almond butter helps bind the cookies together, making a buttery shortbread texture.
You can enjoy these crumbly cookies during the holiday season or whip up a batch to eat as a snack on a cold day with a warm mug of hot chocolate or tea!
Ingredients you’ll need
- Almond flour: Made with ground almonds, this flour is naturally gluten-free and a great substitute for regular all-purpose flour. It’s high in healthy fats and fiber.
- White almond butter: Gives the cookies their classic crumbly and buttery texture and nutty flavor with a dose of healthy fats while staying rich and creamy. You can also use cashew butter as a substitute.
- Maple syrup: Helps to sweeten these cookies naturally while adding a warm maple flavor that pairs well with almond flavor notes.
- Powdered sugar: You’ll need just a tiny bit of powdered sugar to give these cookies the typical sweet finish that ties everything together and makes them look like snowy half-moons.
- Vanilla powder: While in Austria and Germany you can buy vanilla sugar in shops, it’s hard to find in most parts of the world. So we are going to need some vanilla powder or vanilla beans to flavor our powdered sugar. We’ll also add some to the dough for extra flavor.
- Orange zest: A bit of a twist on these classic Christmas cookies. The zest of one orange is used to create a fresh flavor contrast between the sweet flavors in the cookie. Orange adds a bit of acidity and bright citrus flavor. Make sure to use an unwaxed orange.
How to make homemade almond crescent cookies
- Prepare for baking: Preheat the oven to 320F (160C). Grab a baking sheet and line it with parchment paper to keep the cookies from sticking. Set aside.
- Make the cookie dough: In a large bowl, add the almond flour, almond butter, maple syrup, vanilla, and orange zest. Mix with your hands or a spoon to fully incorporate the ingredients to make a compact ball. You can also use a food processor or a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, but I prefer to go the traditional way.
- Shape the cookies: Remove the almond dough from the bowl, and divide it into 14 pieces. Using your hands, roll each cookie into a small cylinder with tapered ends.
Then gently bend each cylinder to give it a crescent shape. The dough can be a bit crumbly, so be gentle when shaping each cookie. Warming well the dough between your hands helps avoid cracks. And if you do get some cracks, don’t worry too much: the cookies will still be delicious!
Place the cookies on the prepared cookie tray. These cookies do not spread, so you can put them close to each other.
- Bake the cookies: Add the cookie sheet to the oven and bake for 10-12 minutes or until the ends begin to become golden brown. Once ready, remove the baked cookies from the oven and let them cool for 5 minutes.
- Add the sugar coating: While the cookies are still warm, mix the powder sugar and vanilla in a small bowl, then gently roll each cookie in the vanilla sugar until lightly coated. Place on a wire rack to finish cooling before serving.
How to store almond crescent cookies
Once the cookies are completely cooled, you can store them in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week. If you leave these cookies for a few days on the counter, the icing sugar can be absorbed a bit by the cookies. You can sprinkle some extra icing sugar on top to freshen them up after a few days.
To freeze, add the cooled cookies to a freezer-safe bag or airtight container with as much air removed as possible. Freeze for up to 1 month. Once ready to eat, let them thaw on the countertop in a dry area until they reach room temperature.
My top tips
Crackly dough: When you try to bend the cookie into a crescent moon shape, the dough can become a bit crackly. Warm up the dough between your hands before shaping the cookies to help keep them together. For the same reason, it’s better not to let this dough rest. You want to make sure the oil contained in the almond butter is nice and warm. And don’t worry if the dough it’s a bit oily. It’s pretty normal, as the natural oil in the almond butter and almond flour will come out when you work the dough.
Pale cookies: Once the cookies come out of the oven, they will be a bit pale in color. This is how they are supposed to look before getting dressed up in vanilla sugar.
Don’t overbake: These cookies are supposed to be slightly chewy on the outside and soft and crumbly on the inside. Perfecting the baking time is essential to make buttery, soft cookies. Make sure you keep an eye on them as they bake and remove them just after they set and their tips become golden. If you keep them in the oven for too long, they can become too hard.
Variations & substitutions
Swap out the maple syrup: If you don’t have maple syrup, try using an alternative liquid sweetener such as agave nectar.
Add some crunch: To give these cookies a bit of extra crunchy nutty flavor, add chopped pecans, walnuts, or almonds to the dough. And if you love chocolate, try adding some chocolate chips.
Change up the citrus flavor: We used orange zest in this recipe, but feel free to use freshly grated lemon zest or lime.
Drizzle with chocolate: To make these almond crescent cookies extra decadent, drizzle or dip them in melted chocolate once cooled.
What is white almond butter?
This special blend of almond butter is made with blanched almonds and a unique grinding process that makes it extra smooth and creamy with vibrant white color. I used white almond butter to keep the cookies light in color. If you only have standard almond butter available, you can use that, but the cookies will be slightly darker in color (but still delicious!).
Can I use coconut flour instead of almond flour?
I’m afraid not. Coconut flour has a different consistency than almond flour and cannot be substituted in a 1:1 ratio.
Can I change the shape of the cookies?
Absolutely! Although the traditional shape is a crescent moon, you can also roll them into balls like Mexican wedding cookies. Just make sure you keep an eye on the bake time as you may need more or less time depending on the shape.
Why I love these almond crescent cookies
- Soft, nutty, crumbly, and delicious!
- Traditional Christmas cookies with a plant-based twist!
- Perfect for making for the holidays and giving as a gift.
- Made with only 6 ingredients.
- They bring back holiday nostalgia in one bite.
More cookie recipes to try
- Almond Thumbprint Cookies
- Hazelnut Gingerbread Man Sandwich Cookies
- Healthy Breakfast Cookies
- Chocolate Hazlenut Cookies (No Sugar)
- Vegan Chocolate Amaretti Cookies
- Chocolate Bounty Balls
If you make this healthy almond crescent cookies recipe, please leave a comment and a rating and let me know how much you liked it!
Almond Crescent Cookies (Healthy)
- 4-5 tablespoons powdered sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla powder
- Preheat the oven to 320F (160C).
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Mix the almond flour, almond butter, maple syrup, vanilla, and orange zest in a small bowl and make a soft dough.
- Divide the dough into 14 equal-sized pieces. Roll each piece into a small cylinder with tapered ends, and then shape into a crescent shape (note: the dough can be a bit crumbly and can crack a bit - make sure to warm it up well between your hands before giving it the crescent shape - see note 1). Arrange the cookies on the baking sheet. They won't spread in the oven, so don't worry about keeping too much distance between them.
- Bake the cookies for 10-12 minutes or until the edges are beginning to turn golden. The cookies themselves will still be quite pale in color (see note 2).
- Remove from the oven and let the cookies cool for about 5 minutes. While the cookies are still warm, place 4-5 tablespoons of powdered sugar and vanilla powder in a small bowl and mix well. Roll each cookie into the vanilla sugar until coated.
- Once the cookies are completely cooled, you can store them in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week. You can also freeze them for up to a month.
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