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Turkish Crescent Cookies with Spiced Walnut Filling
1½ hours (1 hour active), plus cooling
During a recent trip to Istanbul, we tasted ay çöreği, generously sized moon-shaped pastry-like cookies with an aromatic nut and spice filling. Rustic yet refined, the crescents were a perfect not-too-sweet treat with a cup of tea or coffee. The otherwise basic dough includes a little yeast. The leavener does not provide airiness as it would in a yeasted bread, but it does make the crumb a bit lighter and more tender. To make the filling, Turkish bakeries are said to use cake scraps, mixing them with nuts, dried fruits and sometimes cocoa. We use fluffy, coarse panko breadcrumbs, plus walnuts, raisins, spices, sugar and lemon zest to brighten the flavors. The baked crescents keep well; after cooling, store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to five days. Dust with powdered sugar just before serving.
For the dough:
½cup whole milk