This recipe comes to me from my great grandmother, who doubtless learned it from her mother or her mother's mother back in the old country (Austria, I think?). We're lucky to have the recipe written down, as it was published in a cookbook put together by the Westchester Ladies Auxiliary of the Hebrew Home for the Aged back in the 1930's. My own grandmother makes them for big family holiday gatherings, and she taught me her "secret" modifications to the formula as written: a few extra almonds in the 1/4 pound, a special technique flour measurement. They go great with a cup of coffee or tea and a few family stories. —summersavory
Cream butter, add sugar and blend well. Add the vanilla and mix. Grate or coarsely grind the almonds (a food processor works well; a blender will also do. Just be careful not to make almond butter). Add the almonds gradually to the butter mixture, mix them in. For the flour, measure by gently scooping cupfuls and leveling off with a butter knife; use the knife tip to take a tiny bit out of the second cupful. Sift the flour into the butter mixture and work it in to finish the dough. Scrape the dough out onto plastic wrap and wrap it up; pat it out into a thick disk and chill for at least an hour or until you're ready to bake.
To form the cookies, cut a piece of dough off the disk and roll it into a ball about the size of a walnut between your palms. Roll the ball into a finger shape, and gently bend the finger shape into a crescent.
Bake the cookies on ungreased cookie sheets in a 375-400 F oven until the bottoms are lightly golden brown (about 10 minutes-if they're cooking too fast, turn the oven down, and if they're not browning, turn the oven up). Let them cool for a few minutes on the trays-they're very delicate when they come out of the oven-and then carefully transfer them to waxed paper (on a countertop or table, NOT on a rack) to cool a bit more. When they're almost all the way cool (but still slightly warm), dip each one gently in a bowl of granulated sugar to coat. Tradition has it that the baker gets to eat the few that inevitably break in the dipping process :) When completely cool. the cookies can be stored between layers of waxed paper in tins.