I wasn’t sure if I should (or could) make these cookies. The prospect of small pastries filled with candied orange peel was just plain intimidating. Nevertheless, I went out and bought a new 3-inch round scalloped cookie cutter, just in case the urge struck.
Then I made a batch of macaroons. And as I was trying to think of a way to use the extra egg yolks, I saw the perfect opportunity. Turns out, this recipe worked wonderfully – for using up egg yolks and producing amazing best-I’ve-ever-made cookies.
I made this dough a week before I actually made the cookies, and popped it into the freezer. Then I let it defrost in the fridge for about 24 hours before finishing the cookie. I’m not going to lie – this cookie, in all its glory, took a long time. But I can’t think of a better way to spend a cold snowy Saturday.
The result is a beautiful pockets of rich buttery pastry wrapped around a candied orange-pistachio filling. They’re irresistible!
Oh, and for variety I filled a few with my favorite preserve, lingonberries. I think it would have worked, except that they’re a little too liquid. I’d love to try these again with a different fruit filling, although I think the orange and pistachio are hard to beat.
Orange Pistachio Crescent Cookies
From Gourmet, Dec. 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
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 ounces)
About 1 cup confectioners sugar
Equipment: a 3-inch fluted round cookie cutter
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 tablespoon 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.
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 tablespoon syrup. Stir together peel, reserved syrup, and pistachios. Cool to room temperature.
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.