Czech Vanilla Crescents
There are a few things I am obsessed with - make up, biking, Harry Potter and... Christmas. And I know, I know, it's a very commercial holiday, nothing to do with the religious background (good thing I am not religious I guess) but for me, Christmas represent the coziness, warmth, hominess. It's the one time of the year when I allow myself to just relax and watch TV, it's the time when I enjoy baking even more - there are so many different Christmas cookies to pick from! And Czech culture is really rich in these, we have so many different types and sorts and this one, the Vanilla Crescents, is my absolute favorite.
When it comes to Christmas cookies, I can start making them as early as mid November. Just to make sure that I put myself in the right Christmasy mood (listening to Michael Bublé while making them is a must). I love how the apartment smells when you make them and if, by that time when you bake them, you already have the Christmas tree, it would just all smell soooooo much better. I would usually make around 6 different types but the typical Czech grandma would have at least around 15 of them. And when you come over to a Czech family during holidays, there would always be some on the table. I know I am sharing the recipe mid-December already but they don't take that much time to make and if you make one or two different sorts (yes, there's another recipe coming soon), you will have at leat a little touch of Czech Christmas at your home. And if you don't celebrate Christmas, I am sure I will enjoy them nonetheless with a cup of tea or hot chocolate.
You will need:
70g icing sugar
200g plant-based butter
1 tsp vanilla extract (true, non artificial)
Fraisage is a fancy word coming from French and it's a technique to work the dough helping the fats to marry with the flour and other ingredients. To fraisage, you would take small chunks of the dough and with the bottom of your palm push it over the working board. To better visualize it, you can check this video I found or pretty much any other that you can google online. I learned it from a Czech friend who has her amazing (non vegan though) Instagram and blog. This recipe is actually my take and reworked one that she shared on her blog. I slightly adjusted it to work better with the plant-based butter.
First make the dough, it will need to rest over night. Sift sugar with flour on the kitchen work board. Add finely grinded walnuts (I use a food processor), vanilla extract and butter diced in cubes. It's easier to work with the butter when it's in smaller chunks rather than a huge 200g brick added to the flour. Work all ingredients together with your fingers, at first, it will look like a crumble. Once it gets to this texture, try to work it all in a ball. Then fraisage the sh*t out of the dough. Wrap the dough in a foil and put it in the fridge overnight.
The day after...
Preheat your over to 370F.
Put some Michael Bublé on, you can go for my favorite "Cold December night" and then take it from there.
Take the dough out of the fridge. It will be rather cold which is perfect - as it gets warmer, it's much more difficult to work with. Always take a chunk of it and roll it with your hands into a long snake or worm like noodle. Then cut it with a knife into smaller ones (I take one as an example to measure the rest to keep them of a similar lenght). Turn them into the "U" shape and put on a baking tray with a baking paper and bake for around 10-12min. They should be getting slightly rose golden as you get them out of the oven. Let them cool down and then roll them in some icing sugar mixed with vanilla seeds (optional).