Memories of my Mother – Anneliese’s Almond Crescents
The holidays can be bittersweet when you’ve lost family, but mystery author Judy Penz Sheluk shares one way to remember them with joy!
In my recent release, Skeletons in the Attic: A Marketville Mystery, my protagonist, Calamity (Callie) Barnstable, is searching for clues that might help her find out more about her mother—a woman who disappeared thirty years earlier, when Callie was just six-years-old. As Callie digs through a box of her mother’s belongings, she finds a peanut butter cookie recipe that bears a striking resemblance to the recipe my mom used to bake.
But this is Christmas time, and it seemed only fitting to share a holiday cookie recipe. For that, I went to The Hanged Man’s Noose: A Glass Dolphin Mystery, where Glass Dolphin antiques shop owner Arabella Carpenter is known for her love of Scottish shortbread. I also love shortbread, though my particular passion is for Almond Crescents.
My passion for cookies probably stems back to my childhood. My mom wasn’t much of a cook (a trait I have sadly inherited), and in truth, she wasn’t much of a baker (isn’t that what bakeries are for?) but every Christmas, she would bake a huge batch of shortbread cookies called Almond Crescents. She would let me twist the dough into crescent shapes, and if I was really, really good, she’d let me sprinkle powered sugar over them after they were freshly baked.
This will be my first Christmas without my mom. An avid reader, she was my greatest supporter and biggest fan: she actually gave out my bookmarks to the nurses and doctors in the hospital! I take comfort in the fact that Skeletons in the Attic was the last book she read, and I know she’d be proud to share her recipe with you.
PS: if you really want the Peanut Butter Cookie recipe, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll send you the PDF.
Anneliese’s Almond Crescents – Makes 45 cookies
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (the real deal, not the artificial kind)
2 teaspoons almond extract
2 1⁄3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup ground almonds (bulk food stores are a good place to find these)
1 cup powdered sugar (put in a sifter for best results)
Preheat oven to 350° and grease cookie sheets (enough for 45 cookies).
Mix together butter with sugar and beat with a mixed until light and fluffy. Add vanilla extract and almond extract and continue to beat until incorporated. Stir in the flour and almonds. Work flour mixture into a firm dough
Working with 1 tablespoon of dough at a time, shape into logs. The log should be slightly thicker in the middle than at both ends. Bend into a crescent shape.
Place on greased cookie sheets. Bake 12-15 minutes or until light brown. While the cookies are still warm, sift crescents with powdered sugar. Cool on racks.
Judy Penz Sheluk’s debut mystery novel, The Hanged Man’s Noose (Barking Rain Press), was published in July 2015. Skeletons in the Attic (Imajin Books), the first book in her Marketville Mystery Series, was published in August 2016.
Judy’s short crime fiction appears in World Enough and Crime, The Whole She-Bang 2, The Whole She-Bang 3, Flash and Bang and Live Free or Tri. She is a member of Sisters in Crime, Crime Writers of Canada, International Thriller Writers, and the Short Mystery Fiction Society.