December 12th, 2011

Cream Cheese Crescents, and an early Christmas present

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A woman I scarcely knew gave me this cookbook, Blue Ribbon Recipes, in the summer of 1975, an unsold item from her yard sale. She was getting rid of everything–moving out of the sultry South to an arid intentional community on a mesa near Santa Fe. I don’t recall much more about the circumstances, how I’d come to briefly meet her, or why she thought I should have the book.

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But I’d like to thank her.

We all know how cookbooks can be—intriguing to thumb through, eye-feasting at times, with the occasional wonderful recipe that you actually use. But not so with this Blue Ribbon. Throughout the years, it’s been one bearing numerous good recipes, ones that I use again and again, such as these Cream Cheese Crescents.

The smudged and splattered pages tell the story.

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Mary Ann Hill of Perry, Ohio, won a Blue Ribbon at the Lake County Fair for these flaky confections, sometime in the early Sixties. Her recipe is deceptively simple, but the combination of cream cheese and butter whipped with egg yolks into all purpose flour yields a remarkably light and supple dough that bakes into tangy layers.

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I first tried Mary Ann’s recipe around 1980. My sister and I had a kiosk in an old warehouse, “Goodies” where we sold sandwiches and baked goods, including the famous Marbled Cream Cheese Brownies. We were always on the lookout for something delicious and different. This recipe caught our attention.

We tweaked it slightly, and substituted almonds for walnuts.

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The dough is made in advance, and can be divided and frozen, even, if need be.
The recipe can also be easily cut in half–but for catering purposes, it made sense for us to leave it as it is. The complete batch makes up to 8 dozen filled crescents!

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We also valued the recipe for its versatile nature. You could enhance that seductive meringue filling with cocoa, espresso powder, different extracts, if you wanted another flavor profile. You could add pecans, pistachios, even dried fruit and jam.

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The pastry dough is not sweet at all, and only gets its sweetness from being rolled in the powdered sugar on the work board.

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Indeed, Mary Ann Hill deserved the Blue Ribbon for this recipe, and should be pleased, if she’s still on the planet, that it is inspiring cooks today. It is a delicious shaped cookie.
I’d like to thank her, too.

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An afternoon of rolling, filling, twisting and folding–this is why I love baking cookies.

A soothing rhythm that results in a roomful of treats–
Crescents for now, Crescents for later, Cresents to keep, Crescents to share.

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ALMOND CREAM CHEESE CRESCENT COOKIES adapted from Blue Ribbon Recipes

Pastry Dough:
1 lb. softened Butter
1 lb. Cream Cheese
4 cups All Purpose Flour
4 Egg Yolks

Confectioner’s Sugar—at least 2 cups

Filling:
4 Egg Whites
1/2 cup Sugar
1 t. Almond Extract
1/4 t. Vanilla
1 cup toasted, ground Almonds

Method:
Using a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and cream cheese together. Beat in egg yolks, then the flour. Separate dough into 4 balls. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate overnight. Take reserved egg whites and refrigerate overnight as well.

The next day:

Make Filling:
Beat egg whites into soft peaks. Beat in sugar, almond and vanilla extract. Filling will hold its shape without being too stiff.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees (325 degrees, if convection)

Sprinkle 1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar on the work counter, and roll out dough ball. Flip and roll on the other side, so that the sugar gets layered in.

Score dough into 2″ squares, and sprinkle with ground almonds. Place a dab of filling in the middle of each, and roll up–diamond corner to corner.

Place rolled crescents onto a parchment lined baking sheet. Dust with more ground almonds, if desired.

Bake for about 20 minutes, until puffed and golden brown.

Makes 7-8 dozen crescents.

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Here’s a happy Post Script.

Many of you were so kind when I posted about the passing of our sweet old cat, Cass, just three months ago. Last week, I awoke early to the sound of plaintive crying somewhere outside, near my home. I investigated, called out, and this young fellow bounded up onto my front porch, encircling my legs, positively beaming that he’d been heard.

I’ve checked around the neighborhood, posted on the area list serv. No one has claimed him. I took him to the vet for a check-up. No micro chip in him. But the poor guy, neutered and declawed, had been somebody’s cat—and he had been out in the world for a while. Dirty, dehydrated, anemic, hungry, a terrible mouth infection….but he’s coming around nicely.

My vet says that sometimes that Cat Angels take over—send someone new to replace the one who died. Bill says that our previous cats sprayed the word “Suckers” all around our house, so that any in need would immediately know that ours was a cat-friendly place.

In any case, Sid is safe with us, in a good home. An early Christmas present!
We’re crazy about him already.

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Sid, the Christmas Cat, aka Sid-Not-Vicious

Posted in Desserts, Recipes

41 Responses to “Cream Cheese Crescents, and an early Christmas present”
  1. Tracy Says:

    This post almost made me cry. Especially when I saw Sid. Oh my goodness. Give Sid a huge hug for me. His markings are beautiful. And the recipe, I’m so glad it gave you a happy holiday rhythm in the kitchen.

  2. goodfoodmatters Says:

    Thank you, Tracy! You understand that rhythm and flow so well!

  3. Nic@diningwithastud Says:

    Nawww Sid is too cute :) love the crescents! Delish!

  4. heather Says:

    Wow, wonderful, just in time for our chirstmas baking. Thank you!

  5. ladonna Says:

    Lovely post. I suspect my kitchen will be a powdery sweet mess in the near future. I can’t wait to try these. :)

  6. Maggie Says:

    Beautiful post, Nance! Both the recipe and Sid – circles of love!!!

  7. gigi Says:

    love him !!!!

  8. Nancy Says:

    Nance, I have fond memories of all those wonderful goodies you sold at Goodies Warehouse! Think I’ll have to try this recipe. Congrats on being found by Sid. He’s a lucky cat.

  9. Teresa/foodonfifth.com Says:

    First I love Sid…not-so-vicious who could read the cat-spray “sucker” which no doubt Bill is right about! But give me a sucker any day over a callous oaf! Now your home circle is complete again for the Holidays.
    Those lovely little cookies I remember from the Goodie Warehouse days as well. Wonderful little bites of flakey goodness. How time flies but some good thing linger…like furry friends and flakey goodness.

  10. Wendy Says:

    Sid, originally named Lilly, [until the vet's examination] is truly a sweetheart—

  11. Michele | Cooking At Home Says:

    Those old well-used regional cookbooks are the best, and I have a collection of them myself. Those cookies look fabulous just the way they are. Cat Angels, indeed.

  12. Alli Says:

    Wow that cookbook seems like a treasure.

  13. rhonda Says:

    oh, what a handsome cat. he was very lucky to survive without his claws…..then to find you guys, he hit the jackpot! i like the almond and extract substitution in the crescents but sid would probably like some tuna crescents! congrats on your new family member.

  14. Barbara Says:

    Gee, somehow I missed the days that you prepared these lovely cookies–yummy! And I am happy you and Bill have Sid. It looks like he has plumped right up in a very short amount of time. I look forward to meeting him.

  15. Nancy Says:

    OH MY!!!! Sid is precious!!!! Such a sad story with such a blessed ending!!! So glad Sid found y’all. I know he is so happy.
    We are going to try the cresents! Can’t wait.
    Nancy “M” of Maryville TN

  16. Cathy Says:

    Nancy, I would love a funny old cookbook like this, too. Thanks for sharing one of its treasures. And welcome, Sid! His marking are great–as if he’d been sampling some frosting!

  17. Caroline Says:

    What a wonderful cookbook! So much history there. These crescents sound divine. I’m a sucker for cream cheese. ;)

  18. Words Of Deliciousness Says:

    I love the cream cheese crescents. Also love the cookbook, I have a couple of old cookbooks like that, there ones that my mother gave me, there the best. Also love Sid, he is a beauty.

  19. Christy Says:

    Oooooh, that’s such a nice present!:) I love books as presents, they just make my day!;)
    Love the crescents too, they just add to the whole festive mood :D

  20. Kath Says:

    I love this post (again). Sid and the cat angel, and of course the bit about suckers sprayed all over your house, bought a tear to my eye. Lucky Sid!
    The cookbook sounds wonderful and maybe that barely known lady was a cookbook angel. I am going to try this pastry it sounds delicious.

  21. Barbara Says:

    The dough is very much like rugelach dough….this filling is slightly different, although I love to change the fillings in rugelach.

    What a lovely Christmas surprise to find Sid….for both of you!

  22. Madeleine Says:

    He is so cute! I see he already has cat svengali powers– those eyes have me transfixed already! I can’t wait to meet him.

  23. Kitchen Belleicious Says:

    awesome present and I kid you not- these little babies are going on my christmas day appetizer and dessert menu this year! They look incredible!

  24. Faith Says:

    All my favorite cookbooks seem to be from the 60’s or 70’s — I bet once I started looking through this one I wouldn’t be able to put it down! The cream cheese crescents look wonderful! The dough reminds me of a Christmas cookie my mom makes called Schnecken (sp?), except she uses sour cream instead of cream cheese. I’m going to share this recipe with her, since I think she’d really enjoy these cookies!

    Sid is adorable — I’m happy now he has a good home!

  25. Emily Malloy @Cleanliness Says:

    These are GORGEOUS

  26. Juliana Says:

    Nancy, what a fabulous cookie recipe…love the idea of cream cheese in the pastry…and filled with almond, yummie! Like the idea that this recipe was retrieved from such a nice cookbook.
    Hope you are having a wonderful week and thank you for this delicious recipe :-)

  27. goodfoodmatters Says:

    Hi Friends, Hope the season is treating you well–and thanks for all the nice sentiments about our boy Sid, who continues to improve every day. Suddenly, it’s like he’s always been here.

    Nancy

  28. Mary Says:

    These look beautiful and they sound delicious. I love finding truly wonderful cookbooks like that!

  29. Beth Says:

    Your cookies look wonderful. And so does Sid!

  30. Jay Says:

    wow…sounds scrumptiously tasty..
    first time here..love your space..
    excellent posts with nice presentation..
    Am your happy follower now..:)
    do stop by mine sometime..
    Tasty Appetite

  31. Tammy Says:

    This is a delightful post Nancy. Your Christmas rhythm rings through the writing. And you have the same philosophy about cats that I do. One will come. Now if only I’d listened to myself this summer while my boys were working the cat shelter!

  32. blackbookkitchendiaries Says:

    I really like the sound of this…they look really pretty! thank you for sharing this.

  33. Christine @ Fresh Local and Best Says:

    Nancy, I had no idea that your cat had died, I am so sorry and apologize that this condolence is arriving late. What a gift Sid is, and clearly he chose the right house to live in.

    These cream cheese crescents would make a magnificent appetizer for the holiday season.

  34. goodfoodmatters Says:

    Tammy–I have to laugh at your comment!

    Christine–Thank you. There’s no need to apologize–it happened while you were in the midst of moving and resettling. Sid has been a real gift!

  35. FOODESSA Says:

    Way back then…your ‘Foodie’ aura must have been shining…hence, you deserving of such a cherished compilation of recipes.
    Love this post and the crescents are being fed to my repertoire as I write ;o)

    …Dear Nancy,
    Just briefly passing by to wish you and your loved ones the finest of Holiday seasons.
    I’m very much looking forward to hopefully soon joining my Foodies again ;o) Until then, all the very best towards a desirable New Year.

    Flavourful wishes,
    Claudia

  36. goodfoodmatters Says:

    Thank you Claudia–all flavorful wishes to you—we’ll catch up in the new year!

  37. Chris and Amy Says:

    Don’t you just love those old recipes? So very good! More importantly, though, congrats on Sid. Glad the cat-angels paid you a Christmas visit!!!

  38. Simply Life Says:

    oh those are too cute!

  39. Joyti Says:

    Hello Nancy. The cookies look delicious.
    And Sid…he’s adorable!
    Hope you had a magical and very Merry Christmas :)

  40. aarthi Says:

    First time here..Glad I reached here..Following you right away…This looks delicious.…Totally yummy..Thanks for sharing it dear…Should try it soon…If you have time do check my blog too…

    Aarthi
    http://yummytummy-aarthi.blogspot.com/



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