Swiss Walnut Crescents {ModBak}

For some reason, I had a mental block when it came to making this recipe for the Modern Baker Challenge. I’d decide to make it, then decide I didn’t want to, then change my mind again. On and on it went over the course of several weeks. I must have moved the puff pastry from the freezer to the fridge and back again half a dozen times. I even jumped ahead and made Danish Cheese Pockets while trying to motivate myself to finally get to this recipe.

It wasn’t until I started putting the recipe together that I finally realized why. Even though he calls these “Swiss” pastries and describes both their Swiss German and Viennese heritage, these crescents reminded me of kifli (or “keeflee”), a Hungarian pastry that my aunt makes every year around the holidays.

Now, don’t get me wrong (especially you, Aunt Dar, if you’re reading this); I don’t dislike keeflees. They’re fine. Sweet, nutty, and perfect with a cup of tea. But a few of them go a long way for me. And, like most treats that are only made once a year, no one ever makes only a few of them. No matter whose house you stop by over the holidays, there are plates of them everywhere, and they are offered to you all day long. So, even though I enjoy them well enough, by the middle of December, I would swear I never want to see another keeflee as long as I live.

Nonetheless, this was the next recipe in the Challenge, so I would make it, like it or not. The recipe wasn’t difficult, and the ingredients and method were interesting. I began by making a paste of sorts out of ground walnuts, bread crumbs (I used crumbs from the less-than-stellar maple walnut scones recipe I had recently made), milk, sugar, butter, and spices.

After cooking the nut paste, I spread it out on a plate to cool while I prepared the pastry dough.

For the pastries, I rolled the puff pastry dough out to a large rectangle, then cut it into triangles. I plopped a spoonful of nut filling on the end of each pastry, rolled them up crescent-style, then put them on a baking sheet. I chilled the dough for a few hours, then baked the crescents at 375°F for about half an hour, until the pastry was puffed and golden.

The recipe called for an egg wash before baking the crescents, but I forgot that part. After tasting a few of them and realizing that they really were a lot like keeflees, only better (sorry Aunt Dar), I decided to finish them keeflee-style by shaking them in a bag with powdered sugar.

Like keeflee, these crescents beg to be enjoyed with a cup of tea or coffee. They are sweet, nutty, buttery, and just a tiny bit crunchy. The powdered sugar was great with the puff pastry, although J thought it distracted a bit from the buttery flavor.

In the end, I was glad I overcame my keeflee-block and finally got around to making these crescents. I made a full recipe, and they were gone within a few days. And while I can’t say for sure that I’ll make these again, I may change my mind when keeflee season arrives.