Grandma Tess’ Pecan Crescents

Pecan crescent cookies
Pecan Crescents, aka Tiny Rainbows of Happiness, still warm.


These are the cookies we make for holidays, mostly because they’re kind of a pain in the butt to roll and shape. But ooooohhh – they’re *so worth the work. Also affectionately known as “Tiny rainbows of happiness,” these cookies demand taking time to savor and busting out the good coffee. Even though you will totally grab a handful of them every time you walk past wherever you’re keeping them. (Don’t say I didn’t warn you.) These are a contender for best coffee cookie ever, along with our Thumbprint Cookies.


  • 1/2 pound sweet butter (or, like I always do, substitute with 8 ounces of Earth Balance, in the tub, not the sticks)
  • 2 cups of flour
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 cup diced or minced pecans (If they aren’t fresh the cookies will taste stale, so don’t use anything you might have left from previous holidays, which seems to be the only time people really use pecans. 😉 )
  • 5 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon water (tap water, please)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • confectioner’s sugar



  1. Use a mixer to cream the butter, sugar, vanilla and water (tap, please) together
  2. Sift flour and salt together and stir – by hand – into the mixture
  3. Add pecans and mix in – again, by hand. These cookies are delicate so you don’t want to overdo it with mixers.
  4. Roll even-sized chunks of dough into round balls. Like tiny meatballs. Then slightly flatten them between your palms, and elongate them into a rolling-pin shape. Then, bend those slightly into crescent shapes. (This is the time-consuming, pain-in-the-butt step.) Try to make them all about the same size so they cook evenly. You’ll end up with large size baking sheets of 5 or 6 rows of about 20 cookies each.
  5. Place them on a baking sheet (parchment paper is really good for these) and bake at 325 degrees for 20 minutes. (Trivia: A low heat is sometimes called a “slow oven.”)
  6. While they’re warm, sprinkle them with confectioner’s sugar. If you don’t have a pro shaker, you might instead use a tea infuser to shake the sugar on them. Of course, the sugar is optional, but seriously, if you leave it off, just know Tess would not approve.
tea diffuser turned sugar shaker
tea diffuser turned sugar shaker

If you’re making multiple batches and not using parchment paper, you’ll want to wash and dry the baking sheets between every batch. Also, I have a coworker who decided to forego the rolling/shaping part and just rolled out the dough and used a cookie cutter to make them more like a sugar cookie shape. She said they were great. I tried it and failed (they baked unevenly, etc.) It just felt wrong to me, as well. But I have a history with these cookies, too. So, you can try it either way. We won’t tell Tess. 😉